An unreliable memoir

Posts tagged “white

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone

The Wood Anemones are past their best here now. Spring marches on, but slowly this year – our annual butterflies (that don’t overwinter as adults) are a month late – no County records for Orange Tip or Holly Blue yet.

Anemone nemorosa.

Nikon D7200 Tokina 100mm f16 1/400 ISO 400

I prefer my snowdrops one at a time


That way they can’t gang up on you.

Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis.

Stocktaking the Snowdrops – 1, 2, 3…

Stocktaking the Snowdrops

Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis. 7 image panorama.

Spent a sunny Sunday morning stalking the snowdrop snappers. You may find them easier to count if you Go Large. Or you can count them one at a time:

Snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis



Feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f16 1/250 ISO 100

What sort of photographer are you?

Twig Parachute

A year ago if you’d asked me what sort of photographer I was I’d have said “Not a very good one”. That’s still true but I’ve realized that’s not the answer that people want. So if you ask me now, I’ll say, “Wildlife Photographer”, with cosy capital letters so that people can put me in a comfortable box. Obviously, that’s not true either, but when you try to be honest and say “aspiring wildlife photographer” or “not a very good wildlife photographer”, you’ve missed the point of the question – which box can I put you in?

The trouble is, as soon as you say Wildlife Photographer people immediately think of a middle aged man sitting in a Land Rover in East Africa taking pictures of cheetahs through a drainpipe. Even I do it. One of the reasons I’m not a very good wildlife photographer is because I don’t take the wildlife calendar images of cheetahs that people expect. The latest David Attenborough narrated TV series from the BBC is magnificently photographed, but it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds of a pride of lions deciding if they can be bothered to get off their fat arses and go and bite a buffalo before I’m asleep. My wildlife photography involves muddy knees and sneaking up on animals smaller than a fingernail. Don’t bother me with herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plains etc etc, give me a tiny miniature landscape like these Frosty Bonnets, only a centimetre high, representing the Acacia trees of the African veldt.

You should know however that my style of wildlife photography involves every bit as much jeopardy as the East African big game snappers. Apart from the aforementioned muddy knees, there’s the very real risk of dying of thirst when the flask runs dry, or someone else eating the last sandwich. To take this shot, I needed to cross a ditch to reach the fungi on the other side. Well, I say cross, but fall into is a more accurate description. Working in the field is all about minimizing unanticipated risks, and I’m afraid to say that my Risk Assessment for this assignment did not adequately cover the risk of my accomplice dying of laughter as I attempted to take this shot. That’s why it’s a bit fuzzy round the edges. At least, that’s the version for public consumption, rather than “not a very good wildlife photographer”.

Frosty Bonnet, Mycena adscendens. Sony DSC-HX20V f3.5 7.1mm 1/40 ISO 250

By Moth By Moonlight

Greater Butterfly Orchid
Greater Butterfly Orchid, Platanthera chlorantha. Nikon D5200 Tokina 100mm f16 1/180 ISO 100

Walk into any supermarket and you are greeted by ranks of orchids, mostly Phalaenopsis, the moth orchid. Moth orchids are called moth orchids because … well I’m sure you can figure it out. Their natural colour is white to attract moths by moonlight, not the garish pinks the supermarkets tend to favour. Browse a little further down the aisles and you’ll find the vanilla (another orchid product) in the baking section. Being stressed out recently we decided that the solution was an orchid foray. And we did quite well finding three species (although not the target species we had set out to look for). But the star of the show, hidden away deep in the wood, was a large colony of Greater Butterfly Orchids (Platanthera chlorantha). They shone out in the gloom, and I’d like to tell you that their air was full of their vanilla scent – but to be honest it was cold and very windy so not much to smell. The so-called Butterfly Orchids are the British moth orchids, although frustratingly, even after many years research the exact pollinators are still not completely known, so you’ll have to imagine those pollinaria (the yellow dots on either side of the flower) clamping onto an anonymous moth in the moonlight. I’m still having dreams about orchids in the moonlight and I think I’ll to have to go back soon on a warmer, calmer day just to sniff the flowers. Maybe in my next life I’ll come back as a moth.

Pear Blossom

Pear Blossom

Our old pear tree is an unreliable cropper, carrying a crop of delicious pears about one year in three, even though it has a fine show of blossom each spring. This is because we are really a bit far north for pears and because it suffers heavily from pear rust. For the past year however it has also been our main bird feeding station, bearing a nice crop of garden birds every day.
This is a two image stack for a little added d.o.f. And it made Flickr Explore, so at least one good thing has happened today.


Drosera capensis

Nikon D5200 Tamron 70-300mm f22 70mm +68mm 1/125 ISO 800

I have photographed this plant – Drosera capensis – before when I was first playing with my extension tubes. This time I was playing with lighting variations. I don’t normally let these plants flower as it takes so much energy out of them they normally die afterwards, but I let this inflorescence grow because the white flowers are a good subject for testing macro lighting without blowing out the highlights or too much harsh contrast. I’m quite pleased with the above shot, less pleased with the one below but part of the problem there was getting the post processing wrong:

Drosera capensis

Peak Snowdrop

Peak Snowdrop
A very pleasant short lunchtime walk. Long tailed tits, goldfinches, a yaffle. And very pleasant warm sunshine. It’s Peak Snowdrop – get out there and shoot them while they’re here.

iPhone 5S ƒ2.2 4.2mm 1/1642 ISO 40