It's been three months since my last blog post. When you were last here, you were reading about my time over the winter, having captured incredible ice formations on Lake Michigan, and Snowy Owls, but now it's June. We're getting close to summer and I'm getting some time here and there to go out and enjoy all the fresh new greenery that has popped up on areas that were covered in a foot of snow just this April.
Recently, I've been giving myself several opportunities to explore the Susan's Creek Nature Preserve just north of Charlevoix. This nature preserve is 223 acres consisting of a bit over 2 miles of trails that feature landscapes that vary between calm ponds, to open fields, to lush wooded, heavily covered sections and even some excellent areas that pass through and beside a nicely filled creek and marsh. The trails here are not difficult and are well marked, so I highly recommend them for a way to spend a couple hours in the day one weekend.
Because I've spent so much time here, I'm essentially going to cover what I've been able to capture in this area since I've visited on a monthly basis since the end of Winter.
Firstly, lets talk about some changes that have occurred. For starters, I acquired a drone! I now have the dji Phantom 4 Pro at my disposal. I have taken it out on a number of occasions, made a couple videos with it, and have had a blast getting used to the controls and enjoying the new views of Northern Michigan. Here are a few shots I've taken since the snow melt and into the spring with this drone at a stop-off on between Charlevoix and Petoskey and at Fisherman's Island State Park.
When the leaves began to really fill in, I took the drone out to Susan's Creek a couple times and had some fun flying around there as well. The camera on this thing is killer too. It's such a blast to use and I can't wait to see what's in store for me having this at my side.
Aside from the drone, I've equipped myself with a new pair of Columbia waterproof hiking shoes - similar to a pair I ran into the groun for about 3 years and loved. I was using a very cheap pair of boots to get me by, and the comfort difference is enough to mention because I didn't even want to get outside with them; that's how much a good pair of shoes can motivate.
Since the end of winter, I've already taken a trip to the Upper Peninsula. I went out to Whitefish Point in search of some Piping Plovers (and some cool Lake Superior stones), but found a pair of Killdeer (still a type of plover) to photograph instead.
On top of that, I have been able to sneak a little bit of Astrophotography in, albeit not as much as I'd like with the Milky Way in such clear view this time of year. Here are a couple shots of the crescent moon falling behind the Charlevoix Lighthouse on two different occasions, with the addition of a Venus conjunction in the latter set. I have been paying closer attention to these astronomical events and am beginning to understand when rare occurrences are coming up so that if I do photograph them, I can help teach people about what they're seeing in the skies too. I do plan to tackle a good Milky Way session before summer really sets in, so look out for that on my Instagram and Facebook Pages.
Finally, and most recently, my ventures out to Susan's Creek last weekend proved fruitful yet again. I took hold of a block of time for myself and managed to walk a 2.7 miles loop of the trails for about three hours. I was armed with my Nikon D500, a tripod, and my 70-200 and 11-16mm lenses. I captured some of the new foliage, some insects, as well as a couple wide landscapes across the creek, but my most exciting capture was the opportunity to photograph a small fawn that had laid down just about a foot away from the trails. He laid so still that I didn't notice him until I was right next to him. I was close enough that I could see his body slowly rise and fall with his breathing. I did not assume he was injured or otherwise in danger, and I'm glad I didn't. I learned later that fawn can be left by their mothers anywhere from many hours to a couple of days in a location like this at a time. His behavior was very peaceful; he observed me carefully and I made sure not to get any closer with my huge camera and lens setup than I'd already accidentally come to. He let me take a series of photographs before we decided to part ways at the same time. I stood up slowly from being in a kneeling position and as I did, he did so as well and we left walking away in opposite directions. I can't think of much more inspiring moments for being at peace with nature and wildlife than this.