1. Twilight image spread

    At, approximately, the same time as I was notified of my highly commended entry in Asferico for my helleborine at twilight image, I received a request from the technique editor of Digital Camera magazine. They were looking for an alternative perspective of what must surely be our most photographed wildflower and asked whether they could licence my image of bluebells at twilight and if I wouldn’t mind saying a few words on how the image was created. The spread appears in the latest issue but should you wish to read it, I have included it below. Just click the image to open the PDF.

    DCM177

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  2. Just around the corner

    As I write this it hardly feels like spring given that it’s a dark grey, rainy morning but in our woodlands, right now, nature is simply bursting into life! Wild daffodils and primroses are in flower and soon, there’ll be wood anemones and sorrel, too. But, like so many that enjoy photographing the countryside, there is one flower in particular that often gets me out of bed at an unearthly hour, the bluebell!

    Having always lived in Southeast England, I guess you could say I am spoilt with the sheer volume of bluebell woods that I am surrounded by and, since my closest is less than ten minutes away, there has never been a year when I haven’t spent time photographing these stunning flowers. It suits my ‘close to home’ approach to nature photography well where, aside from the workshops and tours that I lead, at least three quarters of all my photography is undertaken not more than 20 miles from my home. This enables me to not only have repeated access to species but allows me to visit nearby woods, downlands and marshes even during office-bound days.

    Finding new ways to capture bluebells is always a challenge but, regardless of the time of day I choose to visit or the lens which I fit onto my camera, it’s always less about the photography and more about just simply being there.

    bluebell_001

    bluebell_002

    bluebell_003bluebell_007bluebell_009bluebell_008Bluebell (Endymion non-scriptus) close-up of flower, Kent , England, April.bluebell_006bluebell_010Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), flowering at twilight, Kent, England, may

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  3. Flowers and a bit of landscape, too!

    And now for some “conventional” flower images and a bit of landscape…….

    The weather’s still doing it’s best to spoil things and so I am finding myself seeking flowers in sheltered areas and, even then, having to wait for quite some time until it is still long enough to obtain a sharp image. Patience is a virtue! Since I’m talking flower photography, I thought I’d mention that my number 1 purchase over the last 6 months has been an old manual focus 200mm f4 Micro Nikkor. For many years I made do with a prime 200mm f4 with extension tubes but felt it was now time (I had been putting it off for many, many years) to purchase a dedicated 200mm Micro.

    So, why didn’t I get the AF version? 2 reasons. Firstly, the MF version is at least half the price and secondly, I rarely use AF when shooting close-up. Also, and this applies to nearly all MF lenses, the focus ring on MF lenses is sooooo much smoother than on an AF lens. The 200mm Micro, for example, has finger-tip focus. A real joy to use. I am now finding that I rarely use my trusty 105mm f2.8 Micro since with the 200mm I get the same magnification, double the working distance and even more control over my backgrounds. It also has a tripod collar and so changing orientation from view to upright’s an absolute breeze!

    I’m off to the Bieszczady Mountains National Park in SE Poland on Monday leading a photo-tour with photographer friend, Marek Kosinski. Although primarily a landscape tour, there will be opportunities to photograph orchids and insects so this lens will definitely be going with me! Current weather predictions are for a hot week (25-30) which will be quite a contrast to what we are currently experiencing, here in the UK!

    You will notice that, opposed to my previous post, I have included the technical data under each image. For all images (except the primrose), I mounted the camera onto a Manfrotto 055CX3 with a Markins M10 ball head.

    Reculver at twilight

    Reculver at twilight
    Nikon D300, 12-24mm @ 18mm, iso 200, 2 mins. @ f11.

    PrimroseI had just finished holding a really enjoyable close-up and bushcraft workshop with Phil from Badger Bushcraft and, although weary, I could not resist the late afternoon sunlight and so rather than driving home, decided to continue for a further hour shooting primroses.

    Primrose
    I had just finished holding a really enjoyable close-up and bushcraft workshop with Phil from Badger Bushcraft and, although weary, I could not resist the late afternoon sunlight and so rather than driving home,
    decided to continue for a further hour shooting primroses.
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 200, 1/25 sec. f8, beanbag.

    Bluebells at sunrise

    Bluebells at sunrise
    Always the trickiest part of the operation with an image like this is keeping the rapidly rising sun obscured behind a tree, so as to avoid flare.
    Nikon D300, 12-24mm @14mm, iso 200, 1/2 sec. f16.

    BluebellTaken shortly after the above image. Due to the weather these were the only successful bluebell images I took. Getting up that early is never a pleasure but, and I have said this before, I never regret when I do. The quality of light is like at no other time of the day.

    Bluebell
    Taken shortly after the above image. Due to the weather these were the only successful bluebell images I took. Getting up that early is never a pleasure but, and I have said this before, I never regret it when I do. The quality of light is like at no other time of the day.
    Nikon D300, 105mm Micro, iso 200, 1/15 sec. f4. Multiple exposure.

    Ramsons at sunset

    Ramsons at sunset
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 200, 1/15 sec. f4.

    Red campion

    Red campion
    Another evening jaunt where, as you can see from the data below, the nagging breeze forced me to use a higher iso than I would have liked. But, with the setting sun waiting for no man, it’s always best to get something than nothing at all!
    Nikon D300, 105mm Micro, iso 560, 1/20th sec. f4,

    Pignut and fernNear to where I park to entre a woodland, lies a small, sheltered, roadside bank where, even on the windiest days, it is perfectly still. For 2 hours I "worked" this 50m patch only haviing to move out of the way of a single car. Such is it's quiet location.

    Woodruff and fern
    Opposite to where I park to enter a woodland, lies a sheltered, roadside bank where, even on the windiest days, it is perfectly still. For an hour I “worked” this 20m patch, also shooting yellow archangel and wild strawberry, only having to move out of the way once, for a car. Such is it’s quiet location.
    Nikon D300, 28-105mm @ 62mm, iso 200, 1.3 sec. f22.

    Last rays of the dayTaken in the wood where I park my car (explained in above caption) I looked for subjects to photograph against the setting sun. As I headed to the top of wood I noticed how lioght was catching just the tops of the trees. 3 images were taken and stitiched together.

    Last rays of the day
    Taken in the wood where I park my car (explained in above caption) I looked for subjects to photograph against the setting sun. As I headed to the top of wood I noticed how the light was catching just the tops of the trees. 3 images were taken and stitiched together.
    Nikon D300, 28-105mm @ 35mm, iso 200, 4 secs. f16.

    Broom

    Broom
    Nagging breeze problem, again!
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, iso 560, 1/5 sec. f4.

    Germander speedwellNow we are completely up to date as this was taken on Wednesday. yet another breezy day so flowers in a shltered spot it had to be. Buttercups made a nice frame in which to place the flower.

    Germander speedwell
    Now we are completely up to date as this was taken on Wednesday. Yet another breezy day so flowers in a sheltered spot it had to be.
    Nikon D300, 200mm Micro, 1/160 sec. f5.6.

     

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