Friday, 29 July 2011

Red-tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus lapidarius)

These images are not intended in any way to be a study of the bee itself. Rather, they are meant as a photographic essay on colour and composition. In the first shot, the majority of the flowers have been sent back to create drama in the foreground and there is, I hope, a sense of harmony between the yellows and greens. The detail in the lace of the bee's wing is a bonus. In the second – a flatter shot – the interest is in the contrast between the flowers and the dark background provided by more distant foliage.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/3,200 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/3,200 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Butterflies on the dog walk No2

These images were taken during the first hour of bright sunshine in North Norfolk after almost a week of northerly winds and leaden skies. Bumble the Labrador stayed out of the hedgerows for once and some decent shots were possible. The second image has been posted largely because, although blurred as it took flight, the Large White doesn't have the thistle head to itself. I have kept the Common Blue at the bottom relatively small in the frame because I enjoyed how its colour was at once in contrast and at home in its surroundings.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 400
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/640 sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/640 sec, f/9, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/800 sec, f/10, 400mm at ISO 400

Monday, 25 July 2011

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

I just enjoyed the way the duck's eyes seemed to be following the water droplets.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,300 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)

See previous post.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

Two simple enough shots, but I love the detail in the duck's feathers, the highlights of the water droplets, the unusual context provided by the vegetation and the scattering of green leaves against the bird's brown body.



Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

The Brown Rat is one of my favourite subjects, due to its furtive nature, endearing behaviour patterns and animated features. This one kept popping out from the undergrowth to enjoy a snack from a stash of titbits it had secreted somewhere under a clump of leaves. Photographically, the main challenge was focusing at distance on a relatively small subject (I have plenty of shots where I just missed!).

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)

Somewhat hidden from view hoping to shoot some brown rats (more of this later), I placed some peanuts on a fence post to see what might be attracted to them. I got lucky when this greedy Jackdaw turned up and proceeded to work his through every single nut – often, as can be seen here, taking away several at a time.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/8,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Greylag goose (Anser anser)

This Greylag had such attitude I just had to try to capture something of its air of indomitability.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Mallard chicks (Anas platyrhynchos)

This group of Mallard ducklings were being harried by Black-headed Gulls as they tried to feed and so took refuge of a sort on what appeared to be an old, partly submerged, iron drainpipe. Eventually it all became too much and they waddled off as fast as their webbed feet could carry them…
Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,300 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,600 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 500

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Mute Swan cygnet (Cygnus olor)

I was shooting wildlife on a creek near Cley in North Norfolk yesterday when a group of cygnets drifted into view, escorted by their devoted parents. Cygnets – like so many young birds – are incalculably cute and so many shots opened up of the group together on the water. I could have filled an entire memory card, but I held back because I was looking for something else. I wasn't sure what, but the colours cast by the grey sky overhead lent the scene a surprisingly cold and quiet ambience. So I lay down, almost in the water, and waited for this one shot – a solitary cygnet, head down and aligned with my lens in perfect symmetry. I would, of course, have preferred the water to have been dead calm, providing a mirror-like reflection, but I'm still pleased with the shot, which I think has a certain quiet serenity.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,300 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Butterflies on the dog walk

Another selection of butterfly images, these taken this morning before the rain set in. And what a pleasant hour or so it was: the sun was warm, the dogs were behaving themselves and three buzzards were wheeling overhead, filling the sky with their mewing. Glorious…






Monday, 18 July 2011

An English pasture

With rain all day here in North Norfolk, I thought I'd raid the archives and post these two commissioned landscapes from last summer. I think there's a quintessentially English feel to both; hope you agree.

























Sunday, 17 July 2011

Smudge versus the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

My dogs found this disturbed wasps' nest for me – and one of them rather wished he hadn't. I was walking the two of them this morning when Bumble my black Labrador dived into a grassy area in front of a hedgerow. I soon realised what he'd stumbled on and shouted for him to get away from it. He did, but not before Smudge, my wife's miniature Dachshund, had also decided to take a look at what the fuss was all about. The nest – about two feet across – had clearly been freshly dug up, most likely by a badger and, from the look of it, as recently as the night before. There were still scores of wasps in the nest and they were pretty angry. I grabbed Smudge and pulled him away from the nest, but half a dozen or so wasps came with him, on his back and face. I brushed them off, but for Smudge – who is not, dare I say it, the most the most robust of dogs (he stays home, for example, if it's raining) – got quite a fright and refused to go any further. I took the dogs home and went back to photograph the nest. This was the only decent shot I managed; the nest was about 18 inches into the earth and the wasps were in no mood to allow me to get very close.

PS: As you will see from the second image, Smudge survived and – after a bath – was very much himself again…

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 320



Bumblebee in flight

I love how this Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) is targeting its intended landing spot with its eyes and also how the thistles below bursting into seed are exploding like fireworks.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 320

Comma butterfly (Polygonia c-album)

The weather today in North Norfolk seemed to change every 30 minutes or so. I captured this Comma during one of the brief spells of bright sunshine.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,300 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 320

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 320

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/8, 400mm at ISO 320

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Just a humble fly

But still beautiful in its own way and I'm drawn to the way the pin-sharp needles of the host plant echo the spines on fly's lower abdomen.

Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/640 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Monday, 11 July 2011

Enter the dragon…

A selection from today's hour or so spent shooting what is fast becoming one of my favourite subjects. I will leave the identification to those who know far more than I.







Common Toad (Bufo bufo)

I saw this chap during an aborted session hunting for adders (too late in the day and too warm). I love the apparent smile.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Are wing tags really necessary?

This image isn't posted because it has any photographic merit. It doesn't – the pair of Marsh Harriers (Circus aeruginosus) were too far away for any meaningful shot. Rather, the shot is here to illustrate what I fear may be a somewhat controversial question. 


First, let me make it absolutely clear that I totally support the study of wild birds, indeed all animals, for the furtherance of our understanding of them. I studied zoology and ecology at university and am convinced that it is principally by learning more about our native flora and fauna that we will be best positioned to ensure their long-term wellbeing. The more we know, the better the chances the species being studied will flourish. 


My question, however, is this: does the tagging of some animals – including these harriers – have to be quite so obtrusive? There is a movement, I know, in the US against the excessive monitoring of some of that country's fauna, notably its population of wolves. Photographers, naturalists and even some conservationists argue that seemingly every other wolf wearing a collar and tracking device is not necessary, of little scientific benefit and – trivial as it may seem – spoiling the experience of those who seek to observe them in their natural habitat. 


If these North Norfolk harriers – pictured at Sculthorpe Moor – had drifted close enough to a point where a decent shot would have been possible, any such image would have been dominated by large bright green tags on each bird's wing. I am not, of course – for the reasons outlined earlier – arguing that the birds should not be closely monitored, but are such highly visible wing tags really necessary? 


One reason, of course, will be the various studies which rely on reported sightings, when observers will log the bird's location and its wing tag number. I remain unconvinced, however, that such an approach outweighs the enjoyment of seeing the (ringed) wild bird in its natural habitat without the spectacle being 'marred' by the intrusion of such highly visible tags. I happily wait to be shot down in flames…

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Spot the birdie!

This may not work very well at web resolution (if not, I apologise) but I was just struck by how well this Goldfinch (Cardeulis cardeulis) – despite that bold plumage – blended into its surroundings in this shot.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/320 sec, f/6.3, 400mm at ISO 200

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cythigerum)

Just because I like the composition, with the single horizontal leaf.

Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 24-70mm USM lens, 1/250 sec, f/5, 70mm at ISO 200