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2021 Shooting Day #10 – Walden Ponds

June 7, 2021
© Jim Miller – American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)

The month of May progressed quickly without any significant shooting. And by significant I mean the act of pulling my Canon 7D Mark II out of the bag. I’ve shot my share of images with my phone’s camera, but nothing really nature related. But not wanting to lose another month, I ventured out to Boulder early Saturday morning to visit Walden Ponds areas.

What I call Walden Ponds is really a combination of two nature areas. Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat, which is run by Boulder County. And Sawhill Ponds, which is run by the city of Boulder. To a relative outsider like me, the difference is effectively geography. There are fences that mark boundaries between the two areas. There are signs showing when you transition from one area to the others. But other than who pays the bills, as a hobbyist photographer who is there for the bugs and the birds there is no difference. But it is a favorite spot of mine which I have visited at least once each year that I’ve lived in Colorado.

There were two basic differences between this day out and the previous 9 I had experienced this year. First was it was a photo trip in Colorado that was actually going to yield something worth posting. And second, it was the first time this year that I was on a solo photo trip. My normal photo companion decided that the chance for snakes being out was more than she wanted to deal with. And truth be told, it was going to be hot (by Colorado standards) and hot weather shooting and hiking is not her favorite thing to do.

It was a good day of shooting, but I know I left some meat on the bone in terms of what I could have done photographically.

I started my walk running into another photographer who was doing primarily birds. He provided some great local knowledge about some places where I might find dragons and damsels, but then told me he hadn’t seen any, but he wasn’t really looking for them, either. As I walked a little further up the path and talked to another photographer, the first photographer walked by and said he just seen some damselflies. Always a good start.

As I started my walk up the path, I encountered a Tree Swallow perched on a nesting box. I got some good shots, but the meat I left on the bone was that while 420mm was good, having my 150-600mm would have been much better. Unfortunately, I haven’t invested in a tripod that can handle the gimbal head. And I won’t shoot the 150-600mm without the gimbal head.

Eventually I found a huge cache of damselflies and made quite a few shots. But I also figured out about 150 shots into the day that I had accidentally turned on about two-thirds of an f-stop worth of exposure compensation, effectively overexposing everything I had shot to that point. Not the first time I’ve done it, but I quickly set the compensation right and then locked the wheel that would cause that error. Again.

As I walked towards the south end of the property I found myself perplexed. The winds were light to non-existent. The clouds were fluffy and gorgeous. And the reflections off the ponds were landscape worthy. And the shortest lens I had was the equivalent of 420mm. I made some iPhone shots, but I had promised myself that I was going to buy a good, light, probably mirrorless camera specifically for such occasions but I had put it off because I didn’t want to spend the money. The same camera that would have come in handy last year at Rocky Mountain National Park. The same camera that would have come in handy when I found a great cactus patch in Cook’s Slough Nature Park down in Texas. Purchasing that camera just once again moved up the list.

The highlights of the day…

The Tree Swallow, in spite of not having enough lens, was a highlight. The last time I made a good image of a Tree Swallow was back in Ohio in maybe 2010. If memory serves, it was shot through the passenger side of my Ford Escape heading into one of Dayton’s MetroParks, shot with my Canon 30D and the same lens/extender combo I was shooting with at Walden Ponds.

The damselflies were also very good. Much work to do with them to get them how I want them.

The biggest bird of the day was a Great Blue Heron, perched in the top of a tree. Again, having the longer glass would have made things better. But at that point in the walk, I may not have had the energy to make a good image of him if I’d been carrying the longer lens and the heavier tripod/tripod head setup.

And last, but certainly not least, was the American Bullfrog that leads off this post. I would have missed him, had he not splashed in the water after catching a breakfast snack. I was able to get very close to him in two different poses before he finally tired of me and headed off for other pastures.

Great day of shooting. Followed by heading off to work on another project. And that other project is where my next blog post will (should) take us.

About the Image
American Bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus)
Boulder County, Colorado
Canon 7D Mark II, Canon 300mm f4 L w/1.4x teleconverter
ISO 400, 1/160 at f/11 – No Flash
Portfolio Image #1067
Image Size in Portfolio: 2691×3363

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