The last week has been a complete wash-out, photographically. I don’t need glorious wall to wall sunshine to feel inspired but a glimmer would be nice! Even on the dreariest of days I force myself out, even if it’s just to give me a break from the computer. I’m quite lucky in that I can hop in my car and in less than 10 minutes be in woodland. It’s good for the soul and always gives me inspiration for new images. It’s also important as a nature photographer I think to keep regular contact with what’s going on out there. This is particularly true in the spring when it seems that each day something new appears, whether it be a bird or a flower.
I’ve had a bird feeding station set up in a local woodland for the last 6 weeks but hardly anything is turning up at the moment, a testament to the mild weather we have been experiencing of late. I understand it’s due to change in the next few days. I’m hoping for goldfinches this winter and with niger seed feeder in situ I have my finger”s crossed that they notice it.
The image below is a reminder of the wonderful autumn we had here in Kent. I went out one afternoon for a stroll to some private woods I have access to and as usual took my kit with me. Leaving it at home only means one thing…that a great photo opprtunity will be missed! As it turned out I had quite a productive few hours, shooting some tiny mycena sp. fungi amongst others and this. I liked the feeling it gave of being at a junction. Left for the woods or right along a hard track. You can guess which path I chose! The colours, light and depth cried out to be shot as a panoramic. One of the most useful pieces of kit that I have purchased over the last 18 months is a camera leveller made by Acrotech. Having read various reviews I opted for this model and have found it to be indispensable for this kind of work. It’s beautifully made and makes levelling the camera a breeze. They were then stitched using PTGui.
As I sit here preparing images for my agent and website I’m remembering the glorious autumn colours we HAD! For outside, it’s belting down and what with the strong winds we are expecting over the next 24 hrs Ican’t imagine there’ll be much colour left.
I’ve really enjoyed photographing fungi this year. There has been lots to shoot and locating a few new sites reignited my enthusiasm for these organisms. I always try to pack light but always fail. I’m only after mushrooms and the odd woodland scene but ultimately that means I need everything from a wide-angle 12-24mm to a 300mm plus tripod, reflectors, filters, small umbrella and lunch. Can’t concentrate when I’m hungry! I just know that if I leave something in the car that I’ll need it.
Photographing them is one thing, identifying another. Sure I have books but there are often such subtle differences that if I am at all unsure I generalise….Mycena sp or Coprinus sp for example. Put yourself out there with a firm ID and you get it wrong then someone will always correct you. Well, I’m going to do just that and welcome anyone that wishes to prove me wrong with these two!
It’s been a great season for mushrooms….mild weather, not too wet and so far, at least here in the southeast, only one day of frost. They are therefore lasting longer as indeed are the fantastic colours. I feel very lucky this year having gone through 2 autumn’s. One in Lapland in mid September and of course the other here. Both very different from one another in that in Lapland it is much colder and the forests are primarily spruce and birch whereas here it is broadleaved. And there is the added bonus in Lapland that you may get to see the northern lights.
So this year in Kent I have, much like orchids last spring and summer, concentrated on fungi. I always find myself out there shooting them anyway at this time but I really felt like I needed to update the library with the classic specimens such as Fly Agaric and the more unusual like Giant Polypore. I would visit one woodland in particular about 40 mins from my home many times as on each visit different types presented themselves. I also ran a couple of photography workshops there which went down well as we had good weather and different varieties to keep us occupied.
Aside from this I spent a memorable morning watching Fallow Deer rutting. These were completely wild, not in a park, and as I stepped out of my car at dawn I could hear the unmistakeable ‘grunt’ of the bucks. It was quite dark and raining so I knew photography wouldn’t be an option but the thought of me seeing them drove me on. I walked slowly wearing dark, silent clothing along the forest tracks and stopping every 50 metres or so to listen for the bucks whilst at the same time checking wind direction. I got closer to the sound some 30 minutes later and proceeded towalk into the coppice woodland, the rain muffling my footsteps. I crouched and there about 20 mtres away I could see the buck through the trees patrolling up and down the length of his stand grunting continuously. And then, as if out of nowhere, another buck sat up only 10 metres away and looked at me. The wind was in my favour and he couldn’t make out what I was. He grew more curious and made a few steps toward me. 30 seconds later he stepped even closer and did the same a gain shortly after. He eventually circled me to get my scent and when he eventually did so, scampered through the wood. I remained still and over the next 30 minutes or so carried on watching the buck on his stand with others all around me periodically grunting. I didn’t take any pictures but it was a great experience non the less.
About Robert Canis
Robert Canis is a professional photographer specialising in the natural world.
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