Daffodil – ISO 400; 60mm macro; f/11; 1/125 sec (click image to view larger size)
In English, Happy St. David’s Day!
Being Welsh, I thought I would mark St. David’s Day with an image of a daffodil, the national flower of Wales. After all, I can still remember having a daffodil pinned to my jumper before heading off to school in the 1960s!
I didn’t want just any type of image though, I wanted to try a technique I’ve known about for a long time but never managed to get around to using before – creating a black background without actually using a physical background.
This technique uses nothing more than the absence of light. It’s quite simple really, once you understand the principle. You don’t need a studio or any fancy lighting gear (I certainly don’t have any), just a flash that you can fire off-camera.
Giant Owl (Caligo telamonius memnon) – ISO 1600; 60mm macro; f/2.8; 1/160 sec (click image to view larger size)
This week I paid a visit to the RHS gardens at Wisley in Surrey, where up to 6000 butterflies will be flying around inside the glasshouse. Officially opening on Saturday 14th January, I went a few days early after a tip from a fellow camera club member that they would be in place before the opening and hopefully not so busy. It certainly was fairly quiet and they may not have had all 6000 in flight, as I imagine most are still to be released into the glasshouse, but there were enough to provide a challenge at photographing them!
A change of perspective can often improve your results when out shooting, as discussed by Scott Bourne in his blog post I read recently, and most photographers are well aware of this. In my case, the change in perspective isn’t to do with moving my feet, or lying down or even selecting a different lens. It’s being unable to get out as much as I normally would due to a bad back. It’s not horrendous so I shouldn’t grumble, it’s just frustrating. When I think back to spring last year, I was out 2-3 times a week in search of bluebells.
The garden in question belongs to my friends who live near Vinhedo, which is about 50 miles (80 km) outside of São Paulo. They have a truly wonderful house and garden and this is the first time I have visited.
Snowdrops – 60mm; ISO 400; 1/200 sec; f/4.0 (click image to view larger size)
This was the first time I’ve attempted to photograph snowdrops. Nursing a bad back, I haven’t managed to do much photography lately, but this morning I headed out with just my Fuji X-T1 and a 60mm macro lens so I could travel light.
I’d seen some snowdrops in Richmond Park previously and I was lucky with the light. Although mid-morning by the time I arrived and the winter sun bright in the sky, these snowdrops were in partial shade with dappled light coming through overhead trees.
Impressions of a bluebell wood – 100mm; ISO 100; 1/2 sec; f/32 (click image to view larger size)
As well as heading into the Surrey Downs this spring, I also ventured down to Hampshire in search of decent bluebell locations.
I’d heard that Micheldever Wood was a lovely spot for bluebell photography, with some large areas where bluebells carpeted the woodland floor. A tip from Richard Thomas on Twitter gave me suggestions for the best parts of the wood to visit, as it covers quite a large area.
I went on a couple of scouting visits before the bluebells had peaked to get an idea of what the place was like and how far I’d need to walk. On the second visit, I took a bike to get around easier!
The First Bluebells – 100mm; ISO 100; 1/350 sec; f/2.8 (click image to view larger size)
For the last few years I have captured images of the first bluebells to appear in my garden.
There is a small patch of self-seeded bluebells to one side of the garden which have gradually invaded one corner of the lawn. The setting of these within blades of grass helps to illustrate their small size and I’ve been drawn to try and capture this and their delicateness.