A Walk in the Park

I am not a city girl by any stretch, but one of the benefits of living close to the greater Toledo area is that they have an extensive and varied metroparks system.

My dad, who is 87 years old, has been very sick for the past couple of months. For almost two weeks he’s been in a rehab facility in Sylvania, OH. This morning I planned to go visit him and I took my camera along, thinking to spend a bit of time at one of the parks after our visit.

I chose Secor Park because it was in relatively close proximity to the rehab center and also because it boasts the National Center for Nature Photography. Imagine my disappointment when I drove into the park to see the Photography Center was closed.

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In my rush to get out of the door this morning while trying to remember my various errands and things I needed to take, I remembered my camera but forgot the insect repellent and/or my Off clip-on. This was a mistake I regretted almost as soon as I got out of the car.

I had parked at the Meadowview Area and contemplated my choice of hiking trails. I had a choice between the Trillium Trail and the Swamp Trail. I chose the Trillium Trail thinking A.) there would be more wildflowers and B.) Fewer mosquitoes. Unfortunately, neither one was the case.

Undeterred by the buzzing and biting mosquitoes, I started on my walk. I was determined to put into practice some of the things I have learned from the many photography books and newsletters I’ve been reading. With no beagles to pull me along, I tried to pay attention to things such as light and shadow, interesting forms and colors, all the while keeping my ears open for birds or other animals.

I thought the sun and shadow on these ferns made an interesting image, though it didn’t transfer to the photo as well as I had hoped.

Sunlit ferns

Sunlit ferns

Here is a very green and inviting back road through the park.

Inviting back road

Inviting back road

I would like to know how to get things in focus all the way to the edge of my photos.

I spied this cemetery through the trees but it was surrounded by a fence and no way to access it that I could see. Too bad, I love cemeteries! I think they are very interesting places!

Cemetery

Cemetery

I don’t think this is naturally occurring in the wild.

A different kind of art.

A different kind of art.

About the only wildlife I saw were fox squirrels. They were everywhere! Most of them looked very suspicious.  I saw so many that I finally stopped taking photos of them.

(Please click on any image to see a larger view.)

I finally came out into a meadow area – less mosquitoes! – where there was a proliferation of milk weed, all of them hosting some different type of insect.

The path then turned back into the woods and soon ran along this creek from whence the mosquitoes that were tormenting me originated, I assume.

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This was the only area I spied interesting avian life and unfortunately it was high up in the leaves and I could never get focused on it. I tried for quite some time but finally, fearing I was losing far too much blood to the mosquitoes, I gave up and moved along down the trail.

There were many interesting stumps of wood and fallen trees.

A log with a view.

A log with a view.

Artistic roots

Artistic roots

The best photo of the day — a chipmunk!

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The Trillium Trail was supposed to make a 1.3 mile loop, ending back at the Meadowview parking area. Somehow I must have missed a turn because soon I was seeing things that looked familiar. Leave it to me to get “lost” on a 1.3 mile loop trail! I turned around, went back to the road and from there I could see my vehicle just a short distance away.

I walked around the meadow trying to find something interesting to photograph. The only birds I saw in this area where a pair of chipping sparrows and they had no interest in sitting still for a photo op!

Hungry chipping sparrow searching for lunch.

Hungry chipping sparrow searching for lunch.

I only explored a very small portion of Secor Park.  There is certainly much more to be seen and many more trails that could be hiked.  Photography-wise, the trail I took probably wasn’t the best choice as it was in too much shade and the sun and clouds played peek-a-boo the entire time I was there, which meant the lighting would go from bright to dim in a matter of moments.  I realize from these photos that I still have  A LOT to learn.  I can’t say I’m terribly proud of any of these images.  But as I keep reading in all the books – practice makes perfect!  So, I’ll keep practicing.

Someday soon I hope to go to Oak Openings Preserve – also part of the Toledo Metroparks System – as I hear they have many different species of birds that I wouldn’t see in my own backyard.

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19 Responses to A Walk in the Park

  1. Bob Zeller says:

    A nice, eclectic collection of photos, Amy. The way to get sharpness from front to back completely is to use a smaller aperture, (Larger number). i.e. f16, f22, etc. That will give you more DOF, (depth of field). But, of course, the downside is that will give you in turn, a slower shutter speed. There is always a trade-off.
    Another solution is to use a wide-angle zoom, such as a 18-55mm for example. They will give you even better results, but then you won’t have the reach for the birds. Another trade-off. 🙂

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    • So far I have been using my camera in P (program) mode, and I haven’t figured out how to change the aperture manually in that mode. P only lets me set some functions to suit the conditions and it sets other things automatically. I guess I will have to start practicing with manual mode and put some of what I’ve been reading into practice! Thanks, Bob!!

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      • Bob Zeller says:

        You don’t need to go to manual. Go to AV mode. That is aperture priority mode, where you just choose the f-stop you want, say f16 or f22, etc. The camera does the rest, setting the proper shutter speed for the proper exposure.

        In reverse you go to shutter priority mode or TV, set the shutter speed, and the camera does the rest, selecting the proper f-stop

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    • Thanks! I will try that next! I am getting more comfortable and not as scared of the various settings as I was at first! I appreciate the help, Bob. I’ll report on the results soon!! 🙂

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  2. kathydoremus says:

    Yay – I got it! Nice post.

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  3. tootlepedal says:

    The secret of improved photography always seems to involve spending more money so I would stick to more practice. It is serving you very well at the moment.

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    • Mr. C certainly doesn’t want to hear about any more money, that’s for sure!! (Although I think he is already understanding that in a year or two I’m going to want a better ‘toy’.) Perhaps I’d better start pinching away my pennies when the school year starts up again.

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      • tootlepedal says:

        There is always something you need as a photographer. Mr C needs to watch how he talks about your camera when you are taking such good pictures with it. Toy indeed!

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    • I appreciate the vote of confidence! Mr. C has never been overly enthusiastic about my creative forays i.e. novel writing, scrapbooking, blogging, photography. I would classify him as “mildly tolerant”. 🙂 But I love him anyway.

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  4. avian101 says:

    The only way that you could get the different effects that you want is by changing from Auto mode to AV or TV. This way you gain control of what you want your pictures to look like. Try it! Your photo composition has improved tremendously, and I noticed that you are looking to apply your artistic point of view. You’re doing fine Amy. 🙂

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    • Thanks, H.J! I haven’t been using full auto. I do not like the full auto mode on this camera at all, so I’ve been using Program mode. I will try AV and TV now and see what my results are! I appreciate the advice and support!! I’m getting more confident and comfortable now, so I’m not as scared to start trying new things.

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  5. I liked the photos! You chose some tough subjects, and they came out good.

    Since your Powershot is a compact digital camera, you shouldn’t have to change the aperture to get greater depth of field, that’s one of the characteristics of a compact digital, incredible depth of field. You may want to try focusing on part of the scene closer to you, letting the focus lock, then composing the way that you want. I say that because it looks like you had the camera focus on the most distant part of the scene, which put the area closer to you out of focus. If you had focused on part of the scene closer to you, I think that you would have gotten everything in focus.

    One of the great things about photography is that there are usually multiple ways of accomplishing what you want the photo to look like. One of the frustrating things about photography is that there are usually multiple ways of accomplishing what you want the photo to look like, and the frustration comes from trying to remember all the ways of changing a scene. 😉

    I think that I should download the manual to your camera for times like this. 😉

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    • This is how I wish it worked – because I am a simplistic person and want things easy LOL – I wish the little rectangle in the middle of my viewfinder could just get bigger with what I wanted the camera to focus on. 😀 Hahaha That way I wouldn’t have to remember so much!

      I probably was focusing down the road farther, so next time I will try focusing on something closer. Like the cemetery – because I was in the deep shade and the cemetery was in the sun, the clear focus is the fence posts not the cemetery like I would have preferred. The cemetery looks washed out and grainy. But these are all learning experiences for me.

      I have been spending more time with my manual – when I have some downtime and things are quiet and I can focus – I’ve read portions individually instead of trying to read the whole thing. I sit with my camera and push the buttons and see what happens, so I’m getting more familiar and comfortable but there is SO MUCH my brain doesn’t retain! Oh, and here’s my biggest problem with the manual (besides all the hieroglyphics, which I’m starting to understand) is that it will tell me WHAT the camera will do, as far as the settings and effects – but it doesn’t tell me WHY I would use that setting. It will say this button will do such and such but I sit there and wonder ‘in what situation would I want to do such and such?’ Does that make sense??

      You’re a gem, Jerry, and I appreciate all your help!!

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      • The short answer is that the why comes as you learn. 😉

        I’ve had my camera for a year and a half, and I’m still reading sections of the manual trying to put the what and why together, and then remember it when the shooting situation requires it. There is too much to remember in one reading of the manual, or even if you read it once a month. The only hope that I can give you is that it becomes easier the more you use the camera. 😉

        And by the way, I started reading the manual for your camera last night, I gave up. I thought that the one for my camera was tough, it’s a piece of cake compared to the one for your camera. 😦

        You’re on the right track, but it’s a long journey.

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    • Well, I have to say it makes me feel tons better to know I’m not the only one who has trouble understanding that manual!! 🙂 I think my first time reading it I was thinking a lot of WT…. 😉 LOL

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  6. gladgardener says:

    Yours photos are fantastic for those of us who cannot venture into the woods and lakes to see those amazing sights. The blue indigo never comes to my backyard! Nor the kingfisher and Baltimore oriole. The loon! The trumpet swans! Beautiful! Also glad that you know the names of those wildflowers. Great new creative name (just like you, Miss Imagination) for the blog! Thank you for the adventures.

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  7. Pingback: Expected and Unexpected Adventures | 45 Degrees North

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