I was spending too much time in my home office this morning, shut off from fresh air, moderate temperatures, and sunshine. So I headed out, camera bag in tow, to lunch at Chipotle's and a mini-tour of nearby nature areas. First was the Strongsville Wildlife Area, a wetland with restricted access in the form of a permanent observation blind for public use. From there I watched an egret hunting and catching small fish. An elegant white swan floated nearby amongst a small crowd of raucous ducks. I used the telephoto to capture a few photos there and of bees collecting pollen and nectar from plants along the path. Then it was on to the Wallace Lake area of the Metroparks, seeking a great egret I frequently see there. That bird is particularly shy when I'm there with a camera but close to the path and road when I'm on a commuting trip. Today was no exception. I shot a few photos of the bridge to downtown Berea and the water fall (lens tests and "art"), a few of the distant egret, then off again towards home. Along the way I spied the sign I regularly pass: "Cleveland Metroparks System / Beyer's Pond." Never been there. Have time? Yes! So I did a three-point turn on the quiet road, pulled into the lot, and hiked down the soft mulch-covered path. Beyer's is a beautiful body of water –still and dark– with lily pads and flowers in the quiet ends and wood duck nest boxes staked here and there. I didn't see much in the way of wildlife but shot a few photos of the water, lilies, flowers, and bees. Finally off for home.
I'm preparing for a special public event tonight: Perseid Meteor Watch. The participating park system assigned us to a tiny county park. If we get a decent turnout, we'll be turning people away! Weather looks good. Must remember: telescope and all components (for looking at non-meteoric objects), camera, tripod, descriptive hand-outs, etc. The event runs from 9:30 to 11:30 PM so I'll probably be getting to be at about 1:30 AM tomorrow. I took today and tomorrow off.
As for the Canon Zoom Lens EF 17-40mm, f/4 L USM lens … well, let's just say I'm not thrilled with its performance now that it's back from a $100+ repair trip to New Jersey! My nature hike/test images today do not tell a happy story. The lens has significant chromatic aberration, does not seem to focus well across its field of view, and does not seem to consistently auto-focus. It works best in close quarters but not for panoramic landscapes. I've no choice but to use it tonight, hoping for a bright meteor streak or two but I'm not encouraged by what I'm seeing thus far.