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Photo special: Macrophotography course

It’s easy to overlook small things, and miss the everyday beauty (and weirdness) that surrounds us. Dr C very kindly gave me a macro lens for my birthday, back in April, and since then I’ve been seeing the world differently. It’s been a revelation.

I realised I needed to learn how to use it, so booked myself on a Surrey Wildlife Trust macrophotography course, led by Adrian Davies. The course took place in an old orchard, in the most glorious sunshine. There was plenty of unexpected beauty to be found, once you start looking at it. Here are my best shots from the day.

Globe thistle
Globe thistle
Bee on bramble flower
Bee on bramble flower
Irridescent fly
Irridescent fly
Water drops at the heart of a flower
Water drops at the heart of a flower
Hoverfly on bramble flower
Hoverfly on bramble flower
Cranesbill flowers
Cranesbill flowers
Butterfly
Butterfly
Gatekeeper(?) butterfly on bramble flower
Gatekeeper(?) butterfly on bramble flower
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Photo special: robins

The robins have been very busy in our garden of late – I think they must have chicks nearby, but I’m not sure where they’re nesting. So last weekend I spent some time trying to get a good photo of one.

Here are my best attempts – not all perfect focus, and a little noisy in places, but I think some of them capture something of the character of these birds – bold and inquisitive.

RobinQuizzical Robin Very ruffled robin Robin and blossom Sideways robin Robin with worms Robin looking at food Ruffled robin Robin with worms Robin with worm Grumpy-looking robin

Surrey Dormouse Group trip to British Wildlife Centre

Winter is a quiet period for dormousers. The dormice are hibernating, so we wash our dusters, enter our data onto the national database, and put our feet up. Here in Surrey we’ve not quite been hibernating – 30 of us met up at the British Wildlife Centre for a meeting to celebrate our achievements from last year, and discuss plans for 2016. And, of course, to see the wonderful collection of animals they have there.

It’s always good to have an excuse to visit the British Wildlife Centre. The runaway show stealers for me were the otters (as always). It wasn’t great weather for photography (very little light), but here are a few of the more acceptable snaps I took.

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel
Otter
Otter
Otter
Otter
Otter
Otter
Mink
Mink
Red squirrel looking into a camera lens (shame the lens cap was on!)
Red squirrel looking into a camera lens (shame the lens cap was on!)

October Photography Challenge: Autumn colour

Falling autumn leaves against a blue sky
Falling autumn leaves against a blue sky

I took advantage of the glorious sunshine to visit my local National Trust estate to take photos for this month’s photo challenge – autumn colour. Yellow and red leaves against a blue sky

Autumn sunshine through trees
Autumn sunshine through trees

Dry, brown leaves

Looking up through yellow leaves on a tree to a blue sky
Looking up through yellow leaves on a tree to a blue sky

Yellow leaves

Autumn sunshine through the trees
Autumn sunshine through the trees
A parade of fine old trees
A parade of fine old trees
The sun shining through a yellow leaf caught on a hedge
The sun shining through a yellow leaf caught on a hedge
Autumn sunshine over the Surrey Hills
Autumn sunshine over the Surrey Hills

September Photography Challenge: seascapes

I had no shortage of opportunities to take photos for September’s Photography Challenge, the theme of which was seascapes. The photos below are a mix of ones taken with a proper camera, and ones taken by my phone.

Near Kynance Cove
Near Kynance Cove
Near Kynance Cove
Near Kynance Cove
St Agnes sunset
St Agnes sunset
Bishop Rock lighthouse, west from the Isles of Scilly
Bishop Rock lighthouse, west from the Isles of Scilly
St Agnes, Isles of Scilly
St Agnes, Isles of Scilly
A sailing boat and Cromwell's Castle, Tresco
A sailing boat and Cromwell’s Castle, Tresco
Looking from Byher to Tresco
Looking from Byher to Tresco
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
St Agnes, Isles of Scilly
St Agnes, Isles of Scilly

June Photography Challenge: insects and a confession

I have a confession to make: I didn’t take any photos for my June photography challenge. I don’t know where the month went! Anyway, as the theme was insects, I thought this was a good reason to trawl through my archives, and see what I could do with the shots I already had. So, I may have failed to take new photos, but at least I’ve done something with some ones I’ve ignored up til now.

(dead) hornet
(dead) hornet
Ugandan butterfly
Ugandan butterfly
Bumblebee in artichoke flower
Bumblebee in artichoke flower

green insect insect on buttercup blue butterfly blue butterfly

Indian butterfly
Indian butterfly

dragonfly

Banded demoiselle damselfly
Banded demoiselle damselfly
hawker dragonfly
My tormentor – a hawker dragonfly of some kind?

May Photography Challenge: garden

The theme for May’s photography challenge was the garden. I love plants at this time of year – everything is fresh and verdant, bursting with life. So I spent a happy hour pottering about the garden, trying to capture some of the textures and colours of May.

It took me a while to get round to looking at the photos I shot, and when I did I was disappointed with the results. A lot of them are unusable as the focus was off, or the composition too messy. I must remember to check the images in the screen as I go along, rather than waiting til I upload them on a computer. Here’s the best of the (poor) bunch.

sage
Sage

wildflowers

Buddleia reaching to the sky
Buddleia reaching to the sky
Dandelion clock (plenty of them in my garden!)
Dandelion clock (plenty of them in my garden!)
Fresh ivy leaves
Fresh ivy leaves
wisteria
wisteria

April Photography Challenge: spring

My theme for April’s challenge was spring. As it turned out, I didn’t take many classic ‘spring’ shots (apart from some bluebells).

Bluebells at Hatchlands Park
Bluebells at Hatchlands Park

Birds are busy in spring, and I couldn’t resist when I saw this fine woodpecker.

Great spotted woodpecker
Great spotted woodpecker
Great spotted woodpecker
Great spotted woodpecker

Reptiles don’t come immediately to mind when you think of spring, but actually it’s a great time to see them basking in the early sun. I managed to find a few on a Surrey Wildlife Trust walk.

Grass snake
Grass snake on a corrugated tin sheet used for monitoring reptiles
Slow worm
Slow worm
Slow worm
Slow worm
Slow worm
Slow worm
Adder
Adder

Reptiles aren’t the only creatures who like to sunbathe – foxes are rather fond of it too.

Fox enjoying the sun
Fox enjoying the sun
Fox enjoying the sun
Fox enjoying the sun
Fox enjoying the sun
Fox enjoying the sun

March Photo Challenge: wild birds

For my March Photo Challenge I visited my local park to take photos of the wildfowl. Spring was in the air, as can be seen from the fighting moorhens… The swan was also rather combative, chasing off ducks who came too close.

Moorhen
Moorhen

Swan Fighting moorhens Fighting moorhens 2015 03 26_Meadowbank birds 2_3424_edited-3 Bark

Duck tail
Mallard tail
Greylag goose legs
Greylag goose legs
Greylag goose feathers
Greylag goose feathers
Greylag goose
Greylag goose

Swan

February Photography Challenge: Still Life

February’s Photography Challenge pushed me beyond my comfort zone: still life. But that was a good thing – the whole idea of the Photography Challenge is to get me experimenting and trying new techniques. So, I set myself up a little still life studio, using greaseproof paper as a backdrop, and tin foil to reflect light towards the subject. I stuck with a 50mm prime lens, and used a combination of flash and a lamp to light the scene.

Candle flameBarn owl sculpture Barn owl sculptureThe photos I’m most pleased with are the single skeletal hydrangea flowers – I like the simplicity and detail. It has a melancholy feel that is right for late winter.

Skeletal hydrangea flowerHydrangea flower - black & whiteI used the challenge as an excuse to get some flowers, although I’m not satisfied with the flower photos I took – flower arranging isn’t my strong point, and the composition looks messy for all of them. But it’s still nice to have the real thing to look at.

White roses and irises White rose and Iris still lifeThen, although it’s not really ‘still’, I took some long-exposure shots of the fire. I like the vibrant colour and movement this has captured – warming on a cold winter day.

Flames Flames Flames Flames