Monday, 2 December 2013

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

With poor light this morning and a heavy mist shrouding the landscape, this Grey Squirrel obliged by posing perfectly. Good job, too, because the long and heavy 400mm lens was hand-held at just 1/100th second. The absence of camera/motion blur is sheer luck.

Canon 1Ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM L-series lens, 1/100th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 640

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Robin

This image was shot through glass, so it's no keeper. I've posted it because I like the colours, especially the addition of the blue, caused by crates stacked up outside the farm shop next door.



Monday, 18 November 2013

Male Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

A simple but effective image made by the uncluttered composition and subtle lighting.

Canon 1Ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM L-series lens, 1/160th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Female Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

I'm thrilled with this shot because the overall feel of the image was not an accident. On a relatively bright day, I noticed one branch shrouded in shadows where the occasional avian visitor caught just a sliver of sunlight. I had to wait, but the end result has, I think, a painterly feel and a wonderful vibe.

Canon 1Ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM L-series lens, 1/320th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400


Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

One of my favourite subjects – I love the tapestry of colours not always obvious in the bird's livery – and I'm particularly pleased with the opening shot.

Canon 1Ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM L lens, 1/250th sec, f/5.6, 400mm at ISO 400


Monday, 4 November 2013

Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

A trio of shots taken for my next column in The English Home magazine (January issue), where the focus will be on how these enchanting – but much-maligned – creatures are now seen much more frequently in towns and cities. This one (photographed in a Norfolk garden) is in fine fettle: alert, well fed and boasting a fabulous coat. Sadly, however, in many cases the fox seen in more urban areas is a shadow of its more rural counterparts, its diet of scavenged leftovers frequently leading to a distressingly scrawny, mangey appearance.





Thursday, 12 September 2013

Garden Spider and prey

I wandered around the garden for an hour this afternoon and wasn't expecting to come across such a gory sight. There is something distinctly horror movie feel about these shots as the Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus) cocoons its prey in its web to consumer sometime later.

All shots Canon 1Ds Mk III, Canon 100mm prime L series macro lens + 35mm extension tubes





Thursday, 5 September 2013

Italian Wall Lizard

Hello again. I'm just back from a holiday in Italy and Switzerland, so my apologies for the absence of new posts. It's traditional in my family that whenever I go to Italy I have to get a decent shot of a Wall Lizard. Unsurprisingly, I saw none in Milan and none in Geneva, but once we got to Lake Maggiore there were plenty around. So, here are a couple – I particularly like the way the blue backdrop echoes the markings on the lizard's underbelly in the second shot.



Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Moth on the Buddleia

The 'butterfly bush' continues to be a huge draw for bees, butterflies and the odd moth. This one fed for more than an hour on the same flower. That should have meant the opportunity for some decent shots, but the strong breeze meant the subject was rarely still enough.




Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Bees on the wild chives








Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva)

A trio of images of the Soldier Beetle, including a couple of shots showing just how they set about increasing their numbers in our gardens! I am indebted to Roy Norris for putting me right on the identification of this tiny creature. Thanks Roy.

All images Canon 1Ds Mk III, Canon 100mm prime macro lens





Monday, 29 July 2013

Disney does damselfly

Quality-wise, this image is no keeper – in a blustery wind I struggled to get the macro focus to latch on to the subject – but I do love this cartoon-like, almost comical approach to photographing the Common Blue Damselfly.



Sunday, 28 July 2013

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

This shot was taken for my column in the October issue of The English Home magazine. Luckily, it has a distinctly autumnal feel.


Hoverfly

As something of an antidote to the wasp featured earlier, here's a harmless female Hoverfly which uses markings similar to those of the wasp to trick predators into mistakenly it is foul tasting and packs a powerful sting. Such a subterfuge is called Batesian mimicry after English naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates, who first described it in 1862. Hoverflies vary considerably in shape and colouration, but I reckon this example is Episyrphus balteatus. Happy to be corrected, as always.

Canon 1Ds Mk III, Canon 100mm prime macro lens, 1/100th sec, f/8, ISO 400

Wasp (Vespula vulgaris)

Not everyone's cup of tea, of course, but the markings are undeniably impressive and certainly work as a visual message that this is an insect not to be messed with. It should also be remembered when maligning the wasp that there is barely a single 'pest' insect species that isn't predated upon by this formidable hunter.

Canon 1Ds Mk III, Canon 100mm prime macro lens, 1/160th sec, f/6.3, ISO 400

Canon 1Ds Mk III, Canon 100mm prime macro lens, 1/640th sec, f/10, ISO 400

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Red Deer stag

I saw this shot while taking an hour out in London's Richmond Park. I got plenty of other shots of Red Deer stags and hinds, but was drawn to this one because of the quality of the light and the sense it gives of getting a glimpse into the private world of this most majestic beast. I also like the swarm of insects caught in the evening glow and the gentle highlights which reveal the presence of velvet on the still-growing antlers.

Canon 1Ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/80th sec, f/4.5, 210mm at ISO 500



Canon 1Ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm IS USM lens, 1/200th sec, f/5, 210mm at ISO 500

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Lunch on the go for this Pied Wagtail

Enjoying the sunshine in the garden for an hour at lunchtime yesterday, I noticed this Pied Wagtail returning to the same spot on the lawn time after time. When I investigated why this part of the garden was such a draw I found (brace yourself) that I had failed to completely clear up one of the 'dog eggs' left by my labrador, Bumble. I decided to leave it and – confident the wagtail would be unable to resist the feast of flies that had gathered – I was able to lie down on the grass within just a few metres and capture lunch on the go for this most endearing little bird, who was almost oblivious to my presence.

All shots: Canon 1ds MkIII, Canon 100-400mm L series lens at 400mm









Monday, 1 July 2013

More hedgehog shots

These are for Toffeeapple, who requested more shots of this little fellow...







Friday, 28 June 2013

Hedgehog

Here's my contribution to the campaign to elect the humble hedgehog as Britain's national species. Yes, I know this little bundle of 7,000 spines is established through much of Europe, but for me there is still something quintessentially British about this captivating creature, so very much a part of our literature and our folklore. Furthermore, the hedgehog desperately needs our help – its numbers have dropped catastrophically from 30 million in the 1950s to below 1 million today. To place that in context, it means the hedgehog's decline is on a par with the plight of the tiger. This specimen – a confident and very active male – was shot for my column in The English Home magazine, which in September looks at how householders can help stem the drastic fall in hedgehog numbers. Its release from the PACT animal sanctuary in Norfolk was postponed for a day so I could photograph it and the little wonder obliged by coming towards the click-click-click of my camera's shutter each time I took a shot. Such a rewarding couple of hours.


  


Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Miniature marvels

I'm slowly becoming more and more enchanted by the miniature world that lies at our feet and the myriad creatures that inhabit it. I thought, then, I'd put up these three images to illustrate just how abundant and diverse is the life that we pass unnoticed every day. Each of these images was taken as I sat on the ground for half an hour or so and surveyed an area of grass and gorse around a couple of metres square. I love how, in the first shot, the Common Green Grasshopper (Omocestus viridulusis trying so hard – and succeeding – to blend in, its head and thorax looking so much like a leaf, complete with the veins. Is the second one a female in striated form or a different sub-order? Not sure. The Garden Spider (Araneus diadematusis a favourite subject; once the macro lens has worked its wonders this diminutive arachnid can appear large and threatening when it is, of course, anything but. In this shot I like the capture of the spider's web and the composition, with its strands running diagonally from top right to bottom left. Finally, the Brimstone butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni) was being pursued by either a rival or a mate and was content simply to sit on the leaf while the other individual flew around it and occasionally landed close by. I have dozens of shots where the resting Brimstone is obscured by flashes of blurred yellow wings.

All shots: Canon 1Ds Mk III, Canon 100mm prime USM L-series lens