Macro Practice

Wednesday 2nd March 2016

Or, most probably, more correctly, close-up practice. This morning I went over to Dad’s to help him go through paperwork and to sort out his new phone which wouldn’t work with his old phone lead. Then this afternoon I continued with the photography course I’m doing on Lynda.com. Currently I’ve working my way through Close Up and Macro Photography. It’s a course by Ben Long who I really enjoy watching. So having watched the start of the course I thought it was time to get out the tripod and the EOS 6D and practice a bit. My practice consisted of taking photos of two Bromiliads that Pat gave me a little while ago.

This is the first shot.

Bromiliad

And here’s the other flower.

Bromiliad

I seem to have got a bit better at focusing. What I find really interesting about those two photos, though, is that I was taking them in natural light on an overcast day and ended up with an ISO of 12800. In the old days of film I’d never have dreamed of going over ISO 400.

A year ago today

It was a beautiful sunny morning for a walk on Upton Heath.

Jez in the sun

Sunday morning in the garden

Sunday 16th August 2015

Rather than photos from our walk today (Upton Heath again, but I took video of Jezebel for her vet check-up on Tuesday) I took some photos in the garden today.

The first is of one of my nasturtium flowers.

Nasturtium

You may recall the Holly Blue butterfly from yesterday. Well it turns out they love runner bean flowers, so I was able to get some better photos. I really like this one.

Holly Blue butterfly on a runner bean flower

The colours seem to perfectly compliment each other.

And here’s another.

Holly Blue butterfly on a runner bean flower

We also had a Speckled Wood Butterfly in the garden.

Speckled Wood Butterfly

I was only reading a few days ago how they are dying out in many parts of the country. We get a lot of them around here though.

As I was coming indoors I spotted a squirrel running along the fence, and followed it up into the oak tree.

Squirrel in the oak tree

It looks as though it had been scavenging the bread someone had left out for the birds.

Someone's been stealking the bird's bread

Little tinker!

A year ago today

We went for a walk on Upton Heath. It looks as though it was a bit cloudy.

Cloudy skies

Upton Country Park and Things in the Garden

Thursday 23rd July 2015

I’m really sorry I’m so far behind, but I should be in a better position to catch up now. I had my cousin come to stay last week, so had preparation beforehand, and then spent all my time with her when she was here (rather than tip-tapping away at the PC). Plus I’ve upgraded to Windows 10, and whereas it may not be perfect, something has changed (possibly removing my 3rd party firewall) which means that I can once again upload photos from my laptop, rather than having to transfer them to a flash drive and wait until I can use Chris’ PC.

So, on with the story. On this particular Thursday Max and I went to Upton Country Park, as normal, before my pilates class. Here’s Max in the stream.

Cone boy

And I call this one “Under the Boardwalk”. It was taken at the boardwalk by the lake.

Under the boardwalk

Back in the garden in the afternoon sun I grabbed my camera and stuck the macro lens on. But before I got around to the visiting insects I spied this robin in the shrubs where it has been nesting.

Hidden in the bushes

I think this is an immature large red damselfly.

I'm guessing this is an immature Large Red Damselfly

And, as usual, I have loads of bees on my oregano.

Drinking the nectar

White tailed bee

There are also a couple more photos on my Flickr stream.

So, once again, sorry for the delays in posting.

A year ago today

I took the dogs to the River Stour in the morning, but I went out again with Chris when he took them to Delph Woods later in the afternoon. Here is Chris and Max by the lake.

Chris and Max at the lake

No walk for me today

Saturday 2nd August 2014

There was heavy rain for most of the morning, so I suggested to Chris that he skip the morning walk and take the dogs out in the afternoon instead of me. Meanwhile I got on with the cleaning, cooking, and generally preparing for my visitors. All of this means that there are no photos from our walk today. Instead I headed out into the garden armed with my camera.

First we have a bee.

Bee

Then we have a Silver-studded Blue Butterfly.

Silver-studdied Blue Butterfly

And finally we have a Comma Butterfly.

Comma Butterfly

A year ago today

We met our friends, Bella and Molly, with their Mum on Canford Heath.

Meeting Friends

Time for some Macro photography in the garden

Wednesday 30th July 2014

But first we had to go on our morning walk. As it was another fairly hot, sunny day we headed to the River Stour at Cowgrove. Jez seems to have got into the habit of coming on morning walks again, so she came along too.

This is a view along the river where we play.

River Stour at Cowgrove

And here is Jez in the water. The river has dropped about 3 inches since last week and Jez is struggling to find water deep enough to wet her back.

The river is so shallow now Jez can't find water deep enough to cover her shoulders

As we walked on round the path I spotted this lovely little wild orchid.

Wild Orchid

And then it was back to Eye Bridge and the car park. But not before I took this photo looking down river from Eye Bridge.

River Stour from Eye Bridge

When we got home I busied myself making some sausage rolls for lunch.

Making suasage rolls for lunch

And then in the afternoon I took the EOS 6D out into the garden with my 10mm lens fitted to try my hand at macro photography again. As usual the oregano was the best spot for visiting insects. There was this little Mint Month.

Mint Moth on Oregano

And this hoverfly (Eristalis tenax).

Hoverfly (Eristalis tenax) on Oregano

And, of course, the bees.

Bee feasting on Oregano

I had my biggest surprise over the other side of the garden, though, where I spotted a Banded Hoverfly. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before. They are the UK’s largest hoverfly at around 2cm long.

Belted Hoverfly

I was pleased with today’s results. I am still having problems with the focus, but my experiments a few months ago with depth of field seem to have paid off.

A year ago today

It was pretty wet. Max and I went to Upton Country Park.

A change in the weather

A relaxing morning and a very stressful afternoon

Sunday 23rd March 2014

I didn’t have any baking to do this morning: in fact I didn’t have any little jobs I needed to do at all apart from put some washing on. So this morning I did what I’d been meaning to do for a long time – spend time trying to get to grips with my 100mm macro lens. The problems I have are around focus and depth of field. I approached it scientifically by setting the camera up on the tripod in a fixed position and then moving the subject (an ornament) to various distances corresponding to the magnification provided by the lens. So, for example, at 30cm distance the magnification is 1:1, whilst at 39cm distance it is 1:2. Then I took a series of photos using varing apertures and studied the results. I’m pleased to say I learnt a lot from this which will hopefully benefit my macro photography in the future. For now, though, I’ll share a couple of the results with you. This is the ornament taken at 48cm distance (1:3).

Macro test at 48cm

And this is it taken at39cm distance.

Macro test at 39cm

Then came the stressful afternoon. I was getting ready to take the dogs for their walk. Jez had been snoozing all morning and had just got up. I let her out the patio doors, she took 3 strides and then her back legs seemed to give way and she keeled over. She got up but clearly could not stand properly. She was obviously in a lot of pain, and after 5 minutes of trying to help her and watching her wobble round the garden I phoned the emergency vet and arranged to take her there. He gave her a methadone injection and painkillers. It was all a bit of a nightmare, and she wasn’t able to settle or get comfortable for the rest of the day. She still can’t walk properly.

So after I got back from the vet I took Max out. We went for a walk over Canford Heath. Chris offered to take him again but I thought the walk would do me good.

So here’s Max in the pond, peering up at me.

Max in the pond

And here he is in the pond leaving a trail of air bubbles in his wake.

Max leaves a trail of air bubbles

A year ago today

We must have had a lot of wind over the week-end as there was a large, fallen tree on Upton Heath.

Fallen Tree on Upton Heath

The late afternoon sun brings out the insects

Monday 12th August 2013

It was a fairly grey morning, and being ‘bin day’ Jez, Max and I went over Upton Heath for our walk. It was pretty uneventful. There were still lots of Grayling butterflies around but that was about all. All except this one solitary fungus sitting in one of the new drainage ditches that have been dug over the summer. I’m afraid I haven’t been able to identify it though.

All on its own

Back home, and it took the late afternoon sun to draw me out into the garden with the camera where I found the bees on my oregano flowers were really nicely backlit.

I like the detail on this one…

Bee on my oregano flowers

Tattered wing…

White tailed bee on my oregano

And all lit up…

White tailed bee on my oregano

The hoverflies were out and about too. This was quite a small one.

Hoverfly

I like the colours in that photo, and the sunlight on it’s wings. I just hope these insect photos don’t put you off.

Flowers, Birds and Bees at Upton Country Park

Friday 19th July 2013

Max and I were back at the Country Park this morning. It is so much more pleasant a walk in this hot weather. I took the camera with the 100mm macro lens on it today. Of course, because I had the macro lens the first thing I saw needed the 300mm zoom, as there was a heron on the opposite bank of the pond. I’ve had to crop this heavily so that you can see it, but you get the general idea.

Heron

Not only that, but a little further on I spotted this young robin in the trees.

Young Robin

There are some nice wild flowers out at the moment, like this purple loosestrife.

Purple Loosestrife

At the stream we met another sort of flower: Daisy our little staffy friend.

Daisy

Moving on, honey bees were busy on the bramble flowers.

Yellow Honey Bee on a blackberry flower

And on the sea holly in the flower gardens.

Honey Bee on Sea Holly

The white tailed bees liked the sea holly too. I love this photo as you can see the little hooks on the ends of its legs.

White Tailed Bee on Sea Holly

If bees are that keen on sea holly I’d better think about getting some for the garden.

And now some flowers. First we have a couple of dahlias.

Yellow.

Dahlia

And pink.

Dahlia

But it was the poppies that really caught my eye.

There was a white one.

Poppy

But my favourite was this magenta one.

Poppy

In the afternoon I took Max back to the vet for a check up on his elbow. As his meds didn’t make any real difference to his limping the vet has concluded that he’s not in pain, which is really good news, so we’re taking him off them. We’ve just got to stick to the physio instead.

A night-time stroll

Friday 12th July 2013

It’s at the cooler end of the hot scale today again – around 22C. I put a t-shirt and thin cardigan on to take Max over Canford Heath in the morning, but once the sun came out I was too hot. It was quite hot for poor Max too, and even his stream has now almost disappeared. There is one fairly clean pool left on the hill leading from the red brick path to the pit road, so he went in there towards the end of our walk.

In the afternoon Dad and Pat came over and I took them round to the Currys megastore near us to buy a new TV & blu-ray player. That means I have to go over there and set it up for them in the next few days.

So come evening I didn’t have much in the way of photos (other than one of an almost non-existant stream) so I took the camera into the garden in the late afternoon. I was surprised to find a male stag beetle wandering round on the trunk of our oak tree. It had been in a sticky area where sap is leaking out (at least I assume that’s what it is) and had managed to gather up quite a lot of detritus on his pincers.

What on earth has this stag beetle been doing?

I don’t know whether it was deliberate or not.

Later in the evening I went out with Dorset Wildlife Trust to count glow worms on Upton Heath. We set off from the Beacon Hill centre at 9.30pm, and shortly after came across the cows, who were getting ready to settle down for the night.

The cows on Upton Heath

I took a couple of photos of the moon rising over the heath.

Moonrise over Upton Heath

Moonrise over Upton Heath

I tried to take a photo of a glow worm but sadly only ended up with fuzzy green blobs. We were surprised to not find many (only 9 on this walk) as in the same area last year we had found well over 20.

I got home just after 11.30pm to find that someone had put food out for the badgers (peanuts I think, unless it was dried dog/cat food), so I had a go at taking a few photos. They are shy, but the food made them overcome that provided I stood fairly still. This pair also look quite young. These shots are all handheld which was just about possible with a very high ISO speed and the presence of a nearby street lamp. They are in black and white to get rid of the colour cast from the sodium street lamp.

Coming out for a snack.

The badgers coming out for a snack

Weighing me up.

Weighing me up

Hello there!

Hello there!

I hope you’ve enjoyed the badgers as much as I did.

Summer is here!

Friday 6th July 2013

Much to Jez’s disgust – she can’t stand the heat. She did come to Upton Country Park with Max and I in the morning though. It was a good choice – virtually all of our walk is in the shade in the morning at this time of the year. She still went in the pond to cool down though. Max isn’t quite so sensible. If you don’t throw something for him then he just stands there.

Max won't go in the water unless you throw something for him

Back at the carpark, at the end of our walk, while Max stood in the sun and wanted me to throw things for him, Jez found a spot of shade.

Jez lying down in the shade of the car at the end of our walk.

That’s my feet you can see refelcted in the car, and you can just make out Max’s reflection in the top left of the photo.

After lunch I took Max for a swim in Creekmoor Ponds as I hope it will help his leg. He loves it and is always so excited to go.

Back in the garden I was taking macro shots again. The honey bees were busy on my geraniums:

Honey Bee on my geraniums

although I did manage to snap 3 blooms without any bees on them.

And in the front garden the white tailed bees favoured the lavender.

White tailed bee on lavender

Roll on the warmer weather over the week-end.