Monday 22 June 2009

Cornish insects in macro

The images in this post were taken at the weekend at Stithians and The Lizard. All were taken with a Sigma 1:1 ratio 105mm F2/8 lens. I took about 200 shots of at least eight species of dragonfly, half hand held, half on a tripod. The latter method easily outweighs handheld in terms of in-focus images. The drawback with a tripod is manoeuvering the tripod close enough to the insect without scaring it. However, my obvious preference is to use a tripod every time.

The image above is a Common Darter taken a distance of about three inches.

The image above is an Azure Damselfly resting on Sorrel.

Small Pearl Bordered Fritillary using a tripod at a distance of about six inches.

Common Blue resting on a young fir tree in dull light. This individual allowed close approach to about four inches. A tripod was used.
EXIF Detail: Aperture priority. Ap F/10. ISO 320. Shutter speed average 1/160s. Exposure 0.oEV.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

On a mission

I took this shot back in May at Walmsley Sanctuary - I was transferring some images to disc to clear the hard drive and had forgotten about this Sparrowhawk with intent in her eyes. A Sedge Warbler was singing on the blind side of the island in front of the hide. The Sparrowhawk flew into the foliage but appeared on my side without a kill. I took a burst of shots and this was the best one in focus just before the vegetation spoilt the view.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Sedge Warbler with an 81A warm filter

I bought an 81A warmer filter and tonight was my first opportunity to use it in suitable colour conditions. This bird might also just benefit from a bit of make-up !

As you can see, the general colour pallette has become a warm brownish orange and has blended the background vegetation. I quite liked it - any comments are welcome (polite ones of course).

The shots were taken again on Perranporth dunes near the Lost Church at about 7pm tonight.
EXIF Detail. Aperture F/8. ISO 125. WB Cloudy. Shutter 1/125s. Exposure -0.7 EV. Tripod mounted.

Cornish dunes have silver linings

Another fine evening with little wind and I was tempted to visit Perranporth dunes again. The lush green areas within the dunes attract Silver-studded Blues and they seemed to be everywhere. They were quite docile tonight as they soaked up the last hour of the day's warmth. Ideal. These males and females posed nicely. In addition, there were several Dark Green Fritillary, Small Heath and Large Skipper.

Monday 15 June 2009

Silver-studded Blue

These images were taken on Sunday evening at Perranporth Dunes. Silver-studded Blue can be exceptionally common in this area with hundreds recorded in some years.
I had a couple hours strong sunlight remaining at the end of the day, though it was breezy and conditions were far from ideal. I saw about 20 butterflies, all in a patch just out of the wind. (The image below is a Brown Argus feeding on Ragged Robin.)

The image below was one of the in-focus shots enabling some heavy cropping without losing too much detail. The low ISO of 200 also helps cropping without the image becoming too grainy.

EXIF Detail for all images: Aperture F/9. Shutter averaging 1/320s. ISO 200. Exposure -0.3 to -0.7 EV. Multi-pattern metering. WB: Cloudy. Focal length 500mm. Tripod mounted.

Emporer loses its' wings

This Hobby put on a delightful display hawking dragonflies with the Emporer seemingly the favourite. I managed to catch a brief burst of shots where it clearly shows one of the plucked dragonfly's wings falling to ground (below).

The image below shows the dragonfly looking more like a fish than insect.

Flying past the hide at Walmsley; this was the only decent, in focus close shot I managed.
EXIF Detail: Aperture F5.6. Shutter 1/1250s. ISO 250. Exposure 0.0 EV. Focal length 500mm. Hand held from hide.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Common Blue Damselflies

Both of these damselflies were photo'd at Perranporth yesterday. The mature male above can be identified by the black spot segment marker, just behind the base of the wings. The lower image is the female.

Grey Heron flight shots

These three flight shots were taken today from the small hide at Walmsley Sanctuary. For some unknown reason this individual kept flying around the pool in front of the hide, making it ideal to test my camera skills on flight shots.

The most tricky aspect is getting the auto focus onto the eye - with such huge wings the auto focus naturally locks on to the largest mass at the closest point. If you take enough shots, with a bit of luck one or two come good! The shot below is my favourite as the angle of the head is looking into the picture.

EXIF: Ap Priority, F/7.1 ISO 200. Shutter 1/250s, Exposure -0.3EV. Focal length 500mm. Hand held.

Thursday 11 June 2009

Painted Lady's everywhere

The last couple of weeks has witnessed a huge invasion of Painted Lady's. Even in the Truro city parks, they can be found in substantial numbers. On Hendra Hill, there was 25 feeding on the Red Valerian. The last major influx was in 1996 when millions entered the UK on a broad front from the Mediterranean and North Africa. These continental butterflies will breed in the UK and produce the first British brood which emerges in July or August. A second and even third brood is attempted. The progeny will join the survivors of the first brood and attempt to emigrate.
Of all the Painted Lady's I have seen, I found them to be very worn and tired looking, as shown in the images above.
EXIF Detail. Aperture priority. F/10. ISO 100. Shutter 1/80s. Exposure -0.7EV. Tripod mounted.

Sunday 7 June 2009

Hobby at Walmsley Sanctuary

We were treated this afternoon to a Hobby hawking dragonflies in front of the small hide. The sheer speed of this agile bird is awesome when seen close up and is extremely tricky to follow in through the lens. By chance it landed in the tree above us for a minute or so, trying to balance on the twig.

Variations in Black-eared Wheatears

All of these images here are the black-eared and black-throated forms of the eastern melanoleuca Black-eared Wheatear. All were taken in Cyprus this April. There is a debate on Scilly at the moment as to which form the male Black-eared Wheatear on St. Agnes belongs to. Hopefully the images below might help to assign the form.

Friday 5 June 2009

Beautiful Demoiselle

I spent about an hour with these stunningly bright little insects. Their colours in different lights are breathtaking. The position of the sun was not perfect and I was struggling with exposure. I eventually used Exposure Bracketing in bursts of five to seven shots. One of the burst will always be perfectly exposed but you have to hope that that image is also the one in focus! These three were the best of the crop. The upper picture is obviously heavily cropped about 50%.
This image is a favourite as the background is uncluttered and it shows the tiny prey being eaten.
EXIF Detail. All the images are Aperture Priority F/9. ISO 200. Shutter 1/100s. Exposure -0.7EV. Tripod mounted. FL 500mm.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Blues, Whites, Skippers and Hairstreaks

This post shows a selection of images taken last week in Turkey. If anyone can identify the blues, I would like to know. Also, the Small Skipper image at the bottom is relatively bright compared to the British Small Skipper, so the id could be open to debate!

Grecian Copper (above)

Blue-spot Hairstreak (above)

Bath White (above)

Ilex Hairstreak (above)

Blue sp.

Little Tiger Blue (above)

Oriental Marbled Skipper (above)

Small Skipper (probable above)