Summer is finally here. A recent photography workshop with Jamie Hall Photography provided a first in terms of subjects for me in the form of Adders. Set against a beautiful background of flowering purple heather the steely eyed Female Adder provided a rather enchanting subject.
A very enjoyable day spent at Strumpshaw Fen concentrating on macro photography. Trying to get a nice backlit dragonfly shot proved somewhat tricky with ever changing light conditions and a gentle breeze that proved to be a nuisance. However managed to get a shot that I was fairly pleased with. Strumpshaw Fen is always a fond place of mine to visit as there is quite a variety of subjects to photograph and I normally end up seeing familiar faces for a chat.
Unfortunately this month was very difficult to get out and about with the camera for one reason or another so I spent some time polishing up my macro skills at home. It is amazing what little creatures you can find when you look. I found this little caterpillar in my cloakroom on the window ledge of all places. I found what I thought was a suitable fitting prop to photograph him on rather than a green leaf. I gently picked him up on some tissue paper and carefully let him crawl on to the apple where he explored his new surroundings giving me the chance to photograph him. Afterwards I returned him carefully to more suitable surroundings in a very sheltered spot in the garden. I am yet to identify what species he is so please feel free to contact me should you know.
Another visit to Strumpshaw Fen and I was delighted to see this little friendly Robin perching on a branch in wonderful winter afternoon sunshine. He appears to have some sort of wire caught around his head but despite this seemed to be very healthy. He is friendly enough so as to be able to photograph him with a 180mm Macro lens. I am happy to add that on a subsequent sightings he no longer had the wire caught around his neck and appeared to be in excellent condition. I guess his friendliness and condition is a reflection of being used to seeing people on a regular basis who are nature lovers and no threat to him and who might leave some bird seed out for him. It is quite remarkable how the Robin is very tolerant of humans in comparison to a lot of other birds. On a later visit whilst I was sitting on a bench he landed on the top of my flask next to me before stealing a morsel of my pastie which was on top of my camera bag, whilst I was picking my camera up to take a photo of him on my flask. The cheeky little fella certainly brought a wry smile to my face.
Follow up to the above photo of same Robin without the wire around his neck and looking very healthy
This Nuthatch was shot at Strumpshaw Fen in the woods where you can just about make out some traces of snow left on the tree stump that he is pausing on before making off with his precious cargo of a nut (rather aptly). You can see his tongue almost tasting the peanut.
Whilst trying to photograph an Otter I managed to get a very wet arm and leg photographing this female Mallard duck whilst trying to set up a low level water shot of the Otter which I had hoped would be so kind as to make an appearance whilst there was some rather lovely light. Alas the Otter decided not to cooperate however the duck made a rather pleasing subject non the less. I try to take photos of some of the more common species (which are often overlooked) in pleasing compositions or favourable light when the chance is there.
A noticeable gap in the last three months which is due to the birth of my first child and having very little opportunity to go out with the camera, but it's all good! I will add some of my favourite other shots in to fill the gap in though
First visit to Strumpshaw for some time and a little bit of a windy day. The weather has been rather disappointing so far in 2013. Managed to get a macro shot of this cardinal beetle with a pleasing background of nettles. My favourite part of macro photography is shooting in live view and zooming in 10x to manually focus and viewing bugs larger than life. They truly are amazing at higher magnification you get to see an amazing side to them. I have even seen a woodlouse with the tiniest little 'mite like' creature running around its shell.
A recent trip to Turkey provided a first for me in the form of a Squash Bug (not to be confused with 'the squashed bug' which is an unfortunate occurrence especially on car windshields). This subject was quite content to perch on the end of a twig on a wonderful purple flowering tree (hence the unusual background) which I am yet to find out the name of. The Squash Bug (Coreus marginatus) is closely related to the shield bug and I mistook it for a variety of shield bug at first until I cross referenced my photo more closely. That is one of the many beauties of taking photographs as it makes identifying species so much easier. The antennae are fairly long for the size of the bug and are very prone to getting broken at an early age, however this chap seemed to be in good order.
I was fortunate enough to spend a day in the company of Jonathan Lewis (a very talented Norfolk based wildlife photographer) in a hide next to a small stream in order to photograph Kingfishers. There was a pair on the go catching fish from a clearing in the reeds in front of us. This shot is of the female which you can identify by the orange underneath the lower beak. Such an amazing bird to watch in action from the skillful dive to the effective stunning of the sticklebacks by way of repeatedly hitting them against the branch they were perching on before flipping them around in their beaks in order to present them to their young head first. I assume this to be the safest way for the young to avoid the spines on the fishes back lodging in their throats.
A quick trip over to Strumpshaw Fen with the intention of doing some macro shots was very enjoyable as well as frustrating due to the breeze which seemed to pick up every time I set up my camera on an insect. As I was trying to keep the flash power to a minimum to avoid the background going too dark as is the case when using flash at close distances my shutter speeds where not as high as I would have liked. Although I could bump the ISO up to improve on my shutter speeds I like to try and keep the ISO below 800 for macro as I feel detail is critical and too much noise tends to detract from the detail of the subject. Especially when you add any noise reduction into the equation. However I managed to get this shot of a Hoverfly against a lovely yellow and green background which feels quite summer like to me.
I have been very busy this year and opportunities to go out with the camera have been few and far between, however this was a quick handheld grab shot of a Painted Lady butterfly in my garden whilst the subject paused momentarily on an old roof tile on top of a stack of old bricks almost seeming to be soaking up the last rays of the sun before fluttering away. I rather like the way the sun illuminates the subject from behind showing the patterns through the delicate wings.
Not really getting out with the camera anywhere near as much as I'd like but thats the way it is at the moment. This is a shot of a Red deer antler from a managed herd at Snettisham farm where I took my 'little un' on a day out. It was pretty good fun as you were able feed them from the back of a tractor (incidently the boy loves tractors which is always a bonus). I am not quite sure the shot is true wildlife, maybe bordering on slightly domestic but it did provide a rare oppurtunity to take a macro shot of this wonderfull young Red deer stags antler in its early stages where it is almost velvet like.
November 2013 through to May 2014
I had little or no chances to go out with the camera for various reasons, however I had a weeks trip to Skokholm bird observatory island planned with my friend James Yaxley in May to do nothing but photography :-)
The following pictures are a selection from the trip. I hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed being there taking them.