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Araneus

Spider

Araneus

My Fotospeed challenge entry this week is of the humble garden spider, araneus diadematus. Our garden is almost overflowing with them at the moment! Fortunately I’m not afraid of spiders, they genuinely fascinate me. I’ve been meaning to try focus stacking for macro images for quite a while now. This spider was in a sheltered spot on the back door, keeping nice and still for me to get close with my 30mm and capture 20 frames, handheld, manually adjusting the focus. I combined the images in Photoshop, using masks to brush away the unfocused areas and reveal much more detail of my subject than I would have been able to capture in a single frame. I have a long way to go to get to where I’d like to be in this area of photography and processing techniques, but I feel like I’ve made a relatively good start. Lots to learn and even more equipment to acquire! Any advice would be gratefully received.

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Caracara With Plenty Of Character!

Sparky The Caracara

Caracara With Plenty Of Character!

Meet Sparky, a wonderful caracara who has more character than one image alone can express! We watched in awe as Sparky performed to the crowds at RHS Wisley Gardens, with Martin Ballam and Peter Warne from Xtreme Falconry, on Saturday afternoon. The caracara is an unusual bird of prey from the Falkland Islands. You can look up more about the caracara here, but I shall hint at why they are so unusual by telling you that there aren’t any trees for them to roost in or hunt from! I love Sparky so much that I’m sharing this as my Fotospeed challenge entry this week and adding a little video I made of the show on Saturday. I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did 😀

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Kestrel Portrait

Female Kestrel

Kestrel Portrait

My hubby and I braved the elements on Saturday to go to the Cheese and Chilli Festival near Guildford on Saturday. We were all hoping for a break in the rain to watch the GMG Falconry display! No such luck, complete washout. The birds were out on perches under gazebos but they were still getting a bit damp and chilly. I did manage to take a few portraits and I really like the way the damp feathers brought exaggerated detail to this female kestrel’s expression! She had puffed her feathers up to get a bit more insulation from the damp and cold. Such a beautiful bird but she really wasn’t impressed. The phrase “fed up” actually comes from falconry language. It was used to describe a bird that had eaten enough food that it wasn’t interested in flying anymore, literally fed up! The birds on display certainly looked completely fed up but not from feeding. Birds of prey really can’t fly in such heavy rain! Although oils spread through their feathers give them a certain amount of weatherproofing, a wild kestrel would have been hunkered down in a tree or rock roost waiting for the rain to pass. We decided that it was too wet to stick around and returned to our own roost to wait out the weather! So my choices for today’s Fotospeed challenge were limited but I can’t really complain when I had this lovely kestrel.

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Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatch

Blue Monday: Hang On A Minute!

Nuthatches are wonderful birds to watch! It’s not often I can get close enough to show you the detail of their feathers and the beautiful slate-grey and blue colouring. I spotted this one clinging to the trunk of one of the trees near the birdhide at RHS Wisley Gardens. First came the panicked retrieval of my long lens and actually fitting it to the camera body. Then I had to try to creep down the stairs to get closer. Stairs and I don’t get on well at the best of times!! The whole time I was whispering, “Just hang on a minute!” and he did. He actually clung to the trunk for quite a while, watching the other birds coming and going from the feeders. Look closely at the image and you can see the really long toes and claws of this expert climber! I love the texture of the bark on this trunk. It’s a feature that helps the nuthatch make really good use of this tree for climbing and feeding on insects within the crevices of the bark. Among all my wonderful wildlife finds last week, this image really stands out for me so I’m putting it into the Wex Mondays challenge this week. Good luck to all those entering!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Details Of The Scarce Swallowtail

The Scarce Swallowtail Butterfly

Weekly Photo Challenge: Details Of The Scarce Swallowtail

Jen has asked us to discover the intimate details of something unexpected, and share our images. On returning from snorkeling in Kos one day, I discovered this almost perfect example of a Scarce Swallowtail butterfly, that had sadly expired just outside our apartments. It’s not often that I get the chance to get my 30mm macro lens out to study a butterfly’s wing in such close detail! I believe it had just reached the end of it’s natural lifespan, having mated and laid its’ eggs on the citrus trees in the garden. I was very fortunate to find it before the ants did! Nature always recycles it’s own. I’ve saved the images at a slightly larger file size than I usually would so that you can see the extraordinary details of the scales on the wings. Click on the individual images for a closer look!

The hind-wing edge detailsClose up wing detailThe overlapping section of wingsClose up wing detailDetails of the patterning on the hind-wings

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One Four Challenge: November Week 2

One Four Ways - November Week 2

One Four Challenge: November Week 2

For my second week of this challenge, from Robyn Gosby of Captivate Me, I’ve added some drama to my image. I imported a basic Lightroom edit into Nik Colour Efex Pro, then used Dark Contrast, Detail Extraction, Tonal and Pro Contrast with a warm Glamour Glow to really bring out the structural details of the seed-heads. I increased some warm features and smoothed the background in Lightroom before exporting my final copy. I really wanted to put the essence of Autumn into the image this week! Hope you like it 🙂

I’m adding a gallery to show all the versions of the image including the original.