Wednesday 29 August 2012

Onwards and Upwards: 1st Birthday

Well, it's been almost exactly a year since I started this blog so time for a little reflection and a few statistics.

Since the blog was started I've added 80 posts (that's one every 4.5 days!) and there have been approximately 10,000 different visitors from all around the world, creating 20,000 page loads. I'm sure that some photographers' blogs are clocking up these sort of figures every month but, for a fairly niche macro blog, I am more than happy with this level of interest.

I've tried to provide a mix of techniques and new images and will generally continue in this manner, though if readers would ever like to see something different please do let me know. I have made a conscious decision to avoid posts on political or contentious topics (e.g. hunting), not because I don't have views on these topics - far from it - but because they inevitably attract those with extreme views and things can quickly turn unpleasant. So far, therefore, I have only posted on purely photographic topics. Whether I can resist the urge to vent steam on a contentious topic for another 12 months remains to be seen :-)

So, thanks for the interest and I hope to continue adding posts on a regular basis over the coming months and beyond.


A snail is probably not the best subject to illustrate the meteoric rise and general dynamism of this blog :-) but I couldn't find another image to capture the onwards and upwards theme :-D

Sunday 26 August 2012

Dew Covered Butterflies

On a Saturday morning in July I decided to have an early start at a local nature reserve having been encouraged by the forecast of cool temperatures and no breeze. I arrived on-site by around 5:30 AM and found the pools and reedbeds to be covered with a heavy, damp mist. At first I thought there was actually too much mist and was fearing foggy images lacking in contrast, but within only a few minutes the sun was starting to burn through. I quickly found a number of insects, all of which were completely covered in tiny water droplets.  This not only made them very attractive but also meant they were very cool and hence were happy to pose for me.


Here are a couple of images of a Small Skipper butterfly. The first was photographed with the sun behind me;

The second was photographed into the sun and hence backlit;

Finally, a Ringlet butterfly;

It's worth pointing out that sometimes you have to treat the presence of water droplets on an insect with a degree of scepticism as some photographers will on occasion spray droplets onto their subjects to give them a dew-covered look. I've even heard some photographers query whether you ever actually find naturally dew-covered insects. I hope these images illustrate that in the right conditions you can find insects naturally covered in fine water droplets.

Over the next week or two I will post some images of other insects that were even more heavily dew laden, including damselflies and a dragonfly. [EDIT: here are those images]

As an aside, I decided to repeat the exercise only a few days later and returned to the same site at a similar time but found that there was no dew at all. I'm no meteorologist but I assume the overnight temperatures were too high, combined with a slight breeze. My heart sank as I was greeted by the sight of Emerald Damselflies on the wing at 5:30 in the morning, something I have never seen before, signalling that my early start had been in vain.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Meet Your Neighbours: Damselflies 1

I've taken quite a few images of damselflies for the Meet Your Neighbours project this summer. I think damselflies are some of the most delicate and attractive insects and so my hope is that the Meet Your Neighbours style shows off their beauty without any distracting background elements.

Here's a small selection of damselflies with more to come in future posts.


First, an immature female Blue-Tailed damselfly of the rufescens form which has a distinctive pink thorax.

and a different view of the same individual:

The following image is of another female Blue-Tailed Damselfly:

Next, a male Banded Demoiselle damsefly:

and another view:

 and finally a female Banded Demoiselle damselfly:

In a future post I will include Emerald damselflies, Azure damselflies and maybe a close-up or two of damselflies' impressive 'faces'.

Monday 13 August 2012

Green Tortoise Beetle

I found this rather cute beetle in my garden last month. It's a Green Tortoise beetle (Cassida viridis) and you only have to observe it for a minute or two to see how it got its name.


When disturbed, this small beetle will retreat under its shell in much the same way as a tortoise does.

When it thinks the coast is clear, it tentatively peaks out from under its shell...

and then marches off, showing us its tortoise-like head.

and another view, this time on a contrasting backdrop;

This was the first time I had seen a Green Tortoise beetle and it's always nice to find something new in my garden. I'll be keeping an eye out for them in the future even though they're not the easiest insect to spot.

All images taken with a Canon 60D with MP-E 65mm macro lens and diffused MT-24EX flashgun.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Nursery Web Spider with Egg Sac

I recently found this Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis) and noticed it was carrying its egg sac in its jaws. I've found Nursery Web Spiders doing this in the past but the difference on this occasion was that she allowed me to get quite close to photograph her.

Female Nursery Web Spiders carry their egg sacs around like this until the eggs are about to hatch at which point they will build a protective 'nursery web' for them to hatch into. They will then protect the nursery from predators.

All images were taken with a Canon 60mm macro. My lens of choice would have been my Sigma 150mm macro but it was being repaired at the time.