Tuesday 31 August 2010

Dragonflies in flight

The two flight shots below are a Common Hawker near Minions, Cornwall and a Black-tailed Skimmer at Breney Common.  The hawker was taken by Kate Jones last weekend and the skimmer shot was taken in July by myself.  To capture a dragonfly flight shot is difficult and mostly relies on a good deal of luck!

With some perserverance and a high shutter speed, it is possible to get some acceptable shots.  The above shot was auto focus and the skimmer was set to manual focus.  I simply waited for the insect to enter the focus area.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Waders at the Golden Lion, Stithians

I took these shots a few days ago at the northern cut-off at Stithians Reservoir, near the Golden Lion pub.  The light was appalling but the RAW software has pulled a bit of colour out of the final image.  The top image is Wood Sandpiper, then Greenshank and Little Ringed Plover.  All are first year birds.

Dragonflies in Gironde, France

Female Keeled Skimmer

These images are a selection of dragonflies and damselflies seen during my family summer holiday in France.  They were taken in the Gironde Departmente in early August.  We did find more species but sadly the photos were not good enough for the blog.  There were also thousands of damsels and demoiselles around the River Dordogne but I just could not risk taking the camera on a kayak!  My decision was justified as I did capsize, so no piccies of Banded Demoiselle.

Scarlet Darter

Black-tailed Skimmer

Ruddy Darter

Small Red Damselfly

White Featherleg

White-legged Damselfly or Blue Featherleg

Monday 23 August 2010

White-legged Damselfly close-up

Female White-legged Damselfly, also known as Blue Featherleg, was taken at a distance of six inches.  Damselflies are tricky to photograph as they usually manoeuvre away from the camera.  This female though, simply stared straight into the lens and didn't falter.  Annoyingly, there was a breeze which didn't help matters.  I have found that in macro mode, a breeze appears through the lens as a gale force wind.

Aperture was F/9, Shutter 1/800s. ISO 320. Exposure -0.7 EV.

Thursday 19 August 2010

Spotted Fritillary

These two Spotted Frillary images were taken near Libourne, France in late afternoon and dull light.  They are one of the brightest of the fritillary's and one the most impressive.  They are absent from the UK and northern Europe though fairly common in southern Europe and the Med. 

EXIF Detail: Aperture F/10.  Shutter 1/60s. ISO 400. Exposure 0.0EV. Handheld.

Monday 16 August 2010

Scarce Swallowtail in France

Butterflies in the sun's glare

These five images are of a Meadow Fritillary, Brown Argus and Small Copper looking directly into the sun's glare at about 10am.  I noticed some similar shots on the internet and decided to experiment when suitable light was available, ie not in the UK.  I took them last week in France.

I raised the exposure to between +0.3 and +1.0EV.  Failure to increase the exposure results in very dark images.  I also changed the metering to Centre Weighted, ie metered off the subject.

I was pleased with the results as the sun is shown bursting through the translucent whites though still retaining some colour within the insect and the flower (mint).

EXIF Detail: Aperture priority.  F/7.1 Shutter 1/320s. ISO 200. WB Cloudy. Lens 105mm Macro. Handheld.

Friday 13 August 2010

French fritillary's steal the show

This post is a summary of all the fritillary's that we saw over the last couple weeks here in the Dordogne / Bordeaux area of France.  The genus is easily the most common type of butterfly and to put it simply, they are everywhere.  They have dominated every day's sightings.  Glanville and Meadow Fritillary are the commonest.  The image above and below are Glanville's.

The majority of the shots were taken in farmland, near vineyards and virtually all beside the road in the numerous ditches and drains.  The French roads and highways are maintained differently to the UK.  Every road seems to have a drainage ditch which are left to nature.  The ditches are splashes of colourful flowers which in turn supports these stunning butterflies. 

Above:  Glanville Fritillary.  Below: Knapweed Fritillary

Meadow Fritillary above and lower three.

Small Pearl-bordered being shown some unwanted interest from a Silver-washed Fritillary.

Above and below: Spotted Fritillary.

Above and below: Silver-washed Fritillary.

All of the images were handheld.  Taken with the macro 105mm with VR constantly on.  Aperture used was F/10 or greater depending on available light.  Thanks to John Chapple for verifying the ID.  Any ID comments very welcome.

Thursday 12 August 2010

The long and short of it

I took these images yesterday no more than a couple hundred meters from each other.  They were taken near Le Teich, a Parc Ornithologique reserve which, according to the fatbirder website,  is supposed to be France's answer to the UK's Minsmere.  The reserve in fact held limited birdlife, no dragonflies or butterflies at all.  These shots were taken outside the reserve on the edge of the sandstone conifer forest.  It was just pure chance that we should find both Long-tailed Blue and Short-tailed Blue so close to each other.

EXIF Detail:  Aperture F/11.  ISO 500. Exposure -0.7EV. Shutter 1/200s. Matrix metering.  Lens: 105mm macro hand held.

Monday 9 August 2010

Short-tailed Blue in Bordeaux

This female Short-tailed Blue is a tick for me and a surprise one at that.  It was taken in the same clump as the damselfly in the previous post.  I was busy getting to grips with the damselfly and this little stunner appeared in front of me.  Luckily I had already taken some shots of the damselfly and could then concentrate on the blue.  You can just see the tail extension on the hind wing. 

White-legged Damselfly

I took this shot last week and after some verification, posted the image here.  I have been using the latest European Dragonfly Field Guide and initially id'd this as Blue Featherleg.  I was told it was a White-legged Damselfly but it seems that the fieldguide likes to use both names!  Anyway, it is a Platycnemis pennipes!

The image was taken near Perissac, Bordeaux using a 105mm macro lens. 

Friday 6 August 2010

Silver-washed Fritillary's going about their chores

Silver-washed Fritillary's seem to be common near woodland clearings here in south west France.  We saw about 15 in one area. Several couples were flirting and courting together and eventually I managed to photo these two completely oblivious to my presence.  We saw at least six other species of fritillary and images of these will appear later on this blog.  

Wednesday 4 August 2010

Large Copper

I took these shots yesterday in bright evening sunshine.  This is my first ever sighting of Large Copper and I was stunned at how bright this butterfly actually is.

EXIF Detail: Aperture F/9 Shutter speed 1/800s. Exposure -0.7EV.  Matrix metering.  ISO 250.  WB Cloudy. Lens 105mm Macro.  Handheld (in stinging nettles).

Southern White Admiral in Dordogne, France

These two images of two different individuals were taken yesterday.  The rain finally cleared and miraculously, scores of butterflies suddenly appeared.

EXIF detail.  Aperture priority.  F/13. ISO 250.  Shutter speed 1/200s.  EV 0.0.  White Balance set to cloudy. Centre weighted exposure. Spot focus. Tripod mounted. Nikon 105mm Micro Nikkor F/2.8 lens with Nikon D3x.