Sunday 29 September 2013

Marbled White Butterflies

Earlier this summer I paid a visit to Ryton Woods in Warwickshire specifically to photograph the Marbled White butterflies. It was forecast to be a very warm day and hence an early start was necessary if I was to be able to photograph them before they became too active. I arrived on site around 6:00 AM and, although it was already quite warm, I did manage to find a few Marbled Whites that had yet to warm up.

The vivid blue sky meant that I was keen to take some wideangle images showing the butterflies in their grassy environment. The following image is probably my favourite from the session, taken with my Tokina 35mm macro lens.


I was also keen to take some backlit images and took the following against a dark backdrop of trees (taken with my Sigma 150mm lens).

and here's a more traditional portrait for good measure;

Monday 9 September 2013

Black Ants and Aphids

A previous post from a couple of years ago explained my interest in photographing the relationship between ants and aphids and described my technique for photographing them. Last year I had no opportunities to photograph this relationship but this year I was pleased to find some clusters of aphids on several foxgloves in my garden. As ever, the Black Ants (Lasius niger) were in attendance and feeding from the sugary honeydew secreted from the aphids.

It's worth pointing out that Black Ants are tiny, typically 3-5mm in length, and hence much smaller than the larger Wood Ant and many other types of ants found outside the UK. As a result of their size, Black Ants are very difficult to photograph, not helped by their reluctance to keep still. After a fair amount of perseverance I managed a few images, of which the following 2 are those I'm most happy with:


As I mentioned in the previous post, an image I've been trying to get for years is of an ant actually drinking a globule of honeydew. This has always proved very difficult as the globule is typically consumed by the ants the second it appears. The image below, which is far from perfect, is the best I managed this year.

Thursday 5 September 2013

'New' Jumping Spider

Jumping spiders are one of my favourites subjects for 'high magnification' macro. The most common jumping spiders in the UK are the Zebra Spider and a similar looking spider called Sitticus pubescens. These are both tiny spiders commonly seen on rocks, walls etc, particularly if the they are warmed by the sun. Like all jumping spiders, they have an impressive set of eyes which gives them real character when viewed through a macro lens.

Over the years I have photographed the 2 species above on many occasions. However, this summer I was lucky enough to stumble across another species of jumping spider that I had never seen before. I've since found out that it's likely to be Heliophanus flavipes, or possibly Heliophanus cupreus.


For comparison, here's a Zebra Jumping Spider:

and here's Sitticus pubescens: