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Image of the Month

 

May 2013

 

 

Yellow Archangel 

 

 

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Dorset Wildflowers

In May 2013 I went with friends to Dorset to photograph wild flowers.  We had some expert help and guidance from Guy Edwardes, and started at Durlston Nature Reserve photographing Early Spider Orchids. 

Here's a slide show with a range of my favourite images from those few happy days. 

 

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I really didn't understand the Early Spider Orchid name at first but if you look closely at the centre of the flower, it does resemble the rather fat furry, brown body of some spiders.

The winds were blowing the plants and flowers around to the extent that flower photography was virtually impossible so taking to shelter we experimented with controlling the background and light source to photograph bracken fronds.  If you look carefully you can probably see that the green background is actually a large leaf! 

The section of yellow archangel also had a large green leaf for a background but this time, it was waved about during a long exposure in order to create a nice clean background without any leaf veins showing. Once the wind died down a bit, we went in search of cowslips. Hardington Moor was carpeted with cowslips and it was almost unbearable to walk through them and I was perpetually worried about squishing these beautiful flowers.  The challenge was to find specimens that were suitable photographic subjects.

I had a bit of fun photographing dandelions.  I experimented with different apertures in order to get a suitable depth of field (with the macro lens) for the dandelion clock head and then used a long lens for the whole plant.  The cowslips in the background of this image are rather distracting so the second image is a 'marmite' shot. What do you think? The Early Purple Orchids were found at Durlston Nature Reserve as far as I can remember!!  My notes, like me, are somewhat muddled!

The avenue of beech trees at Kingston Lacey is a favourite venue and I had a lot of fun experimenting with slow shutter speeds to try to capture some sense of the movement of the bright green leaves in the wind. When high winds stopped photography in the field, we moved back to a sheltered spot to experiment with a sycamore bud and a beech bud emerging into leaf.

The Common Twayblade (found at Hook Powerstock Common, I think!), was a revelation to me.  I would not have guessed that it was a species of orchid in a million years! I think that I've photographed a Green Winged Orchid but that somebody will correct me if I've got this wrong. I've also included an image of an Orange Cowslip.. who knew that there were orange variations?

Thank you Guy for your expert tuition, and Nigel, Cathy and Roger for your company.  Great teamwork!  Here's to the next time :-)

 

Adventures with Brett Lewis

I spent a couple of very happy days in the field with the legendary Brett Lewis http://500px.com/BrettLewis   Brett is a biologist/ecologist  based in Kent, UK.  He works with all manner of wildlife but has a particular interest in reptiles and amphibians. HIs work, under Euoropaen Protected Species licence, requires him to survey and monitor species such as reptiles and dormice. 

My silent shrieks of excitement nearly deafened me when I encountered my first dormice.  I didn't want to scare them or wake the torpid dormice.  They figure on the excitement scale at somewhere beyond stratospheric and are way beyond cute!  I was privileged to be able to assist Brett with his routine weighing, measuring and counting. 

I have to say that I was more than a wee bit nervous in the build up to my first encounter with adders.  During the monitoring of some of Brett's sites, I was extremely glad that I was wearing my wellies!  Brett's understanding and knowledge is extraordinary and once I had actually seen my first adder, I was completely relaxed. 

I love the image of the Common Slow Worm with the ant on his head... and was captivated by the Grass Snake playing dead (tonic immobility which I knew of in sharks but not in other species)

It was bluebell season and we spent some time taking 'drag' shots in the woods.  It's amazing how difficult it is to photograph bluebells and I still haven't captured the image that I see in my mind's eye. 

I love these images and can't wait to have another opportunity to spend time with Brett.  I learnt such a lot. 

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The Barn Owl Centre, Gloucester

Vince Jones from the Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester needs some help.  The Centre has the opportunity to buy the land that it is currently leasing from Gloucester Council but of course, funds are very tight with lots of hungry beaks to fill and lots of mistreated or homeless raptors and owls to house.  Kevin Treadwell from The Flash Centre, Birmingham worked with Vince to set up some amazing perches and sets that attempted to create natural settins for the birds who like to have their photos taken! 

We invited a small number of friends for a 'pro-photography day' and followed this with a private session in the surrounding, beautiful woodlands.  It was an extraordinary 2 days and we raised a lot of money for the Centre.  It's nice to give something back to nature and not just take.

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