I’m taking part in the Wildlife Trust’s challenge 30DaysWild this June. The challenge is to do something wild every day! There are lots of ideas for exploring wildlife and nature on the website and app. I like to get outdoors as much as possible but, sometimes my fatigue stops me from doing much.
Having a lot of local nature reserves is a big help! If I can manage to spend just an hour or so at Wisley or Heather Farm on Horsell Common, I feel so much better, physically and mentally. It gives me the opportunity to survey the areas for the wildlife that I love and just to breathe fresh air and relax to the peacefulness and sound of birdsong.
This male banded demoiselle was my first challenge image that I shared straight to Twitter. Everyone has really loved it so I’m sharing it again today, with a wider audience and for the ShareMondays, Wex Mondays and Fotospeed challenges.
Spot the wren! Not too hard to find with the Fujinon 100-400mm with a 1.4x tele-converter, but it is quite a challenge finding and following these birds in the grasses and reeds of Papercourt Meadows, alongside the Wey Navigation, with the naked eye. It’s a haven for wrens and I would estimate that there was an individual wren every few metres along the short stretch between Papercourt and Newark Lock. My tips for finding them are to find a good habitat spot, go early morning or evening, listen for the chatter or song, keep very still and look for movement (perhaps with binoculars or spotting scope) in the area where you can hear them singing. In this case I tracked the wren’s position by watching the grasses moving and kept the camera focussed on those areas, waiting for little Jenny to pop up into view. Be patient, let the wildlife come to you! Information on habitat can be found on the RSPB and BTO websites.
Ghosts: A colourised, black and white image of seed-pods ghosting among the grasses at Heather Farm Wetlands Centre. I loved the way they moved in the breeze, seemingly detached from the rest of the plant. The scene called to my memories of black and white film photography and experimenting in the darkroom. As I looked through the lens I could see high key, stained and etched, showing the pods off like fireworks or bursting stars. Really happy with the end result!
Echoes: One of the things that I loved doing in the darkroom was multiple exposures, either from one negative, or several, to create my art. Echoes was created from three exposures, one with more contrast and two slightly offset exposures that shifted the focal point of the subjects. This image is a homage to the way I used to work in film, now created using digital processing. Digital doesn’t dilute the origins of creative photography, it has provided me a way to recreate darkroom processes as well as opening up so many more ways to be creative with post processing in colour as well as black and white.
Ghosts and Echoes are a memory of the past, a celebration of the present and excitement for the future of the photographic process.
For ShareMondays and Wex Mondays this week is this perfect little brown argus butterfly in the grasses at RHS Wisley Gardens last week. This was the first time I have seen this species at Wisley, the first time I have been able to positively identify the sight of one in the UK and the first time I have photographed one! I was very excited. Then I realised that there were two! I almost did a little dance but my legs had seized up from trying to crouch. A great species to be able to add to my Big Butterfly Count this past week.
In these burning lands The only safe flame is the One carried on wings
At Heather Farm wetlands centre on Horsell Common the grasses are reduced to dry, brown scrub. The waters are at the lowest I’ve ever seen. Flowers bloom and fade fast in this heat. There have been so many heath and grassland fires already this summer and I am very concerned about these precious habitats! It’s the Big Butterfly Count this week and while I am still seeing quite a good number of grassland specialists, like this small copper, I am worried about the laval plants that are so important for the next generation of butterflies. While the heat continues, please be very careful with naked flames, BBQ’s and cigarettes around parks, heaths, grassland and woodland. This is for the Fotospeed challenge and is dedicated to the fire-fighters helping to tackle these blazes across the UK.