Up at 5.30 am. Not a cloud in the sky. Worth bothering to go out?
6 am, slight hint of pink in the east. In the car.
Sun comes up, fog comes down.
Yellowhammer in my ear while I’m setting up this shot.
Home for breakfast.
Normally, today would be the shortest day. But this year it’s not (it’s complicated). In reality, around these parts the shortest day is determined not by the calendar but by the weather. On Saturday there was no dawn. In fact, it never really bothered to get light at all. But today, the sun dawned bright and clear at 08.14 sharp. Which is reason to celebrate.
Then it rained.
Nikon D5200 Tamron 17-50mm f4 17 mm 1/4000 ISO 100
This photography lark’s quite simple really. You just focus on the eyes.
27 times, then spend two hours focus stacking in Photoshop. Apologies to all the arachnophobes, but dare I suggest this one’s worth looking at LARGE?
Interesting beastie, Pholcus phalangioides. It’s what biologists call a “cosmopolitan” species, meaning not that it reads glossy magazines with articles titled How to satisfy your man (female spiders aren’t really into that – quick snack is more like it), but that it has spread around the world. Originally from warm climates and caves, they’ve found that centrally heated houses in colder regions are quite acceptable substitutes, so they’ve moved in, hence why they’ve become known as Cellar Spiders (or Daddy Longlegs Spider, if you must). Here they stretch out, bask in our waste heat, and tuck into our house spiders and silverfish. No, those aren’t cobwebs in your cupboards and under the sink, that’s an ecosystem.
Cellar Spider, Pholcus phalangioides. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm+68mm f8 1/250 ISO 100. 27 image focus stack.
We sat in the hide for three hours. No-one else came.
Kingy was beating up and down the channel all afternoon, skulking in the bushes. As the tide pushed up the marsh he took up residence on the posts along the channel. He looked to be doing OK but it was too far away to see what he was catching.
The people who built this new hide were clearly concerned about ventilation. Half inch gaps between the floorboards. The East wind was cold. After three hours my ass had frostbite and the lure of a home made pork pie in the pantry was too great. We went home.
Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis. Nikon D5200 Tamron 150-600mm f6.3 600mm 1/250 ISO 720
but photographing butterflies cheers me up.
So far this year I’ve only had time for one Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) trip, which means I’ve already missed the early part of the season. In fact, I haven’t seen any dragonflies so far, and all the damselflies I’ve recorded have been found while I was doing something else. I’d like to change that later in the season, but it was nice to stumble across a field full of Common Blue damselflies yesterday.
Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f13 1/90 ISO 400
A lovely spring day.
In other news, I fell in the pond.
Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f32.0 70mm +68mm 1/250 ISO 400
Did you know that the petals of the Hyacinth are stained with the tears of Apollo?
First macro shots with the new flash gun. I’m reasonably pleased with these shots but I think I can make further improvements.
You’d think taking a picture of an ice cube would be easy wouldn’t you? Well it’s not. At least, taking the picture isn’t hard – light up an ice cube with the LED torch (giving the nice blue colour), snap on the extension tubes and away you go. Ice doesn’t run away. Ice plays it cool.
But there’s a problem. I wanted a picture of some lovely clear ice. If you just take an ice cube out of the freezer you get this cloudy effect. You need to make special ice cubes with very pure water and boil it before freezing to remove the dissolved gasses. Sigh. Time for a drink.
Nikon D5200 Tamron 30-300mm f22 70mm +68mm 1/30 ISO 100
A family of mute swans – Mum, Dad and the three teenagers – were grazing peacefully, tucking into mid-morning snacks. But you know how teenagers are. Eventually one of them persuaded the other two to take off and cruise over to the other pool to see if there was any more action there. But first they flapped around for a few circuits – just because they could. If you had the novelty of wings as good as this, wouldn’t you keep playing with them? Mum and Dad sighed and eventually followed them across just to make sure they didn’t get into any more trouble.
Nikon D5200 Tamron 500mm f8 1/750 ISO 1000
This was the inside of the windscreen. And this was the only photo I took today, the rest of the day being taken up by an unavoidable expedition up the M6 in the freezing fog, consisting of a repeating cycle of dodgy drivers, achingly beautiful unattainable photo opportunities, and terror.
iPhone 5s ƒ2.2 4.2mm 1/805 ISO 32
Not a bad day, a bit breezy and the sun very low and harsh, so out for a wander in Aylestone Meadows. With a specific aim in mind – practicing using the motor drive with manual focusing to capture moving wildlife. 20 species of bird, but none terribly co-operative – especially the Fieldfares, which I still haven’t managed to capture this winter. A few interesting shots of ducks and swans, but you can’t beat a kingfisher, can you? My technique still needs practice though.
Nikon D5200 Tamron 500mm f8 1/500 ISO 800
We set off in darkness, and frankly, it was looking a bit grim. Then, after an hour’s drive, just as we arrived, we were blessed with the most spectacular light I have even seen (since the previous day!).
Stunning. So glad we did this trip in the winter. So lucky with the weather and the light.
Sony DSC-HX20V ƒ3.2 5mm 1/400 ISO 400