Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Silver studds at Prees Heath july 9th 2012

It was time to re visit Prees Heath in Shropshire to shoot the last remaining colony of the rare silver studded blue butterfly in the midlands, in my opinion the most beautiful of the blue species.
so early in the morning i arrived on a cool breezy morning to hopefully see a few emerging being attended to by ants.

walking down the main track through the trees adjacent to the old airport runway i immediately noticed a lack of butterflies!   there should be hundreds of them by now  this time in july ?     But the heather is looking awesome in full flower :)

The first butterfly i have actually found is a Small Heath , i haven't shot one this year so this will be a good chance , especially as its quite cool and this specimen doesn't look like it wants to fly off! 
first a perched shot on heather .  i make sure of a nice background and shoot at f6.3 to keep dof shallow to give a clean background.

then i carefully cut the stem its resting on and turn it to get a slightly different background with slightly more flower colour in the background :)

                      now time for a couple of portrait shots with canon mpe-65 macro lens , i place the butterfly on the ground so i can shoot multiple frames to focus stack to increase depth of field. i have to use my camera bag as a wind shield to keep it still  lol

                   and with a nice red coloured stone placed behind for a bit more background colour.
                                                           Yes i keep one in my bag :D

                 Now walking down the central area of heather looking for emerging silver studds

Found one!!!!!!!!      already emerged but still has a few ants around it , but it is not in a good position to shoot with mpe so will try with standard 100 mm macro for a full shot. isn't this great , an ant perching on the butterflies antennas :)

back looking for a few more and i eventually find a fairly newly emerged female perched on a heather flower, which does make a stunning combination.

walking through the heather there appears to be loads of silvers hiding from the wind in the heather , impossible to photograph but a great sight to see.  the heather really is looking great this year.

i find a patch of ground which has plenty of ant nests but after a good search not a single butterfly emerging , but...................

  i have found a fresh female that i move onto one of the flowers to photograph. and Yes i got covered in ants lying down to shoot this image!

No its not cheating , just taking advantage of a situation where a cool butterfly can be moved safely.   and here is another female that i have placed on a beautiful pink flower, cut off and held in a small clamp that i can shelter from the wind and get a nice clean background.   sorry for bad phone pic, but shows how its done :D

    The resulting image, you can clearly see why this species is named silver studded, the studs are very noticeable along the lower edge of wing of this female showing quite blue in this image.

                               i have just found a beautiful looking fly , so had to shoot it   lol 
                                                               well , i think its beautiful :D

    Finally my favourite image of the day , a male silver studd perched gently on the tip of a pink flower, compositionaly i prefer this wider view compared to the closer frame filling composition of previous female on the pink flowers.

           The end of a challenging shoot in breezy conditions but a series of really great images.

                       images shot with canon 5d2,100mmL macro & mpe-65 macro lens

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Green & Great Gable walk with Twitter friends new & old july 8th 2012

This was the second Twitterati group walk with old and new friends from twitter :)
Led by Ray and his dog Holly aka "the beast"  with Gina & Dave and Gary who were all on the previous walk Blencathra  and new friends Tanya , Si and Bruce.
We met up at Seathwaite in Borrowdale .  the route was to climb up Sourmilk gill then up to the summits of Green Gable 2628 ft and Great Gable  2949 ft :)

                                   This is where we are climbing first! straight up to the top

A steep climb straight up the Gill  Yay!.  at this point the weather was looking quite good and clear, with a bit of blue sky so we were all fairly hot climbing up here. of course a few of us , Tanya and myself  mainly, kept stopping to take photos :D   not that we are slow & need a rest quite often !

                 when we all reached the top of the Gill there was a nice scramble to negotiate

upon reaching a good viewpoint , it was time for yet another rest ( aka photo shoot :)
"GLAM WALKERS"  aka Gina & Tanya with Seathwait valley behind.

 a great view from up here

The view from top of SourMilk Gill , starting to cloud over already!  Holly had a quick swim too!

we started making our way up the Gillercomb path towards Green Gable summit! , Gina, Dave, Si, Gary and Bruce were way ahead of myself,Ray and Tanya  at this point , think they were practising to be fell runners lol   you can see how far ahead they were! OMG

At the top of this climb the ground levelled  and we got a stunning view across the fells down Ennerdale valley on the left ,  Buttermere and Crummock centre   View larger HERE

 a group photo , as you can see the cloud was building now and soon we wouldn't get to see any views!

a short climb and we where on Green Gable summit, no views again!  a re occurring theme on our walks recently!  Arghhhhh        an impromptu group shot on the summit in thick cloud!

     another view of the thick cloud obscuring the view! before a steep decent into "windy gap" before the steep climb back up to the summit of Great Gable :)

the decent down into windy gap!

                                                              and back up towards Great Gable!

                   this is where things got interesting , the main group were off into the distance ,

at this point i was way behind and Tanya ,with Ray keeping her company where behind me.  once up this steep section i had lost sight of the others in the thick cloud!

                                          here i am just before i got lost in the mist! 

as you can see in the above image  i am way behind , and Tanya & Ray (who took this image) even further behind me!  Tanya remarked later that she thought i had given up waiting for her !  lol  , but i couldn't see a thing in the fog , had lost the path & hadn't a clue which way i was going, thank god for Holly (the Beast)  who was keeping her eye on me!,i could not even hear the others , i shouted out for them, TWICE  but i heard silence!    then i heard Gina giggling in the distance! im fairly sure i heard someone say"lets eat all the brownies before the others get here"       lol

                   Upon reaching the summit of Great Gable , the memorial plaque was read before a group photo then a bite to eat and Gina's famous home made chocolate brownies :D    the real reason we all go on these walks  lol.   it was at this point two other climbers appeared , and they too were offered brownies , much to there amazement :)

                                                         and Gina s i-phone self timer pic :D

                Here is Tanya re-doing her make up, on the summit of Great Gable in thick cloud!
                                                not much else to say about this really  :)

Making our way down Great Gable heading towards Styhead tarn , where there is a stretcher box used by mountain rescue.  a brief glimmer as the clouds break allowing a view of Seathwait fell.
       i think Tanya's make up gave her a boost as she took the lead on the next section with Gary

                                      our first view of Styhead tarn as the cloud clears ,a magnificent view

the cloud is clearing well now, giving glimpses of the fells through the thinning cloud base :) 

On our way down the scree slope now , its quite slippery on this loose rock


We made it down to the bottom where the stretcher box is at the tarn side , another couple of group photos was taken :)

We decided to take a longer way back as it was still early afternoon, Sprinkling Tarn was the next target , i have always wanted to see it, the home of "Vendace"  a rare mountain fish.  this is the path heading upwards towards the tarn.  It was at this point Tanya decided to take the lead , and with Gina in tow off the "Glam walkers" went leaving the rest of us trailing behind.  lol

 Sprinkling Tarn

 Gina & Dave

Looking back towards Green Gable  (centre), the scree path we have just descended (left side)  WOW!

Now we will descend via Grains Gill towards Stockley bridge , its a long way back to Seathwaite..  but amazing views on the way down, more reminiscent of Snowdonia actually . this is called Ruddy Gill i believe

Heading down Grains Gill , its a long way down.  would not like to climb up this particular path , its never ending  lol

Dave descending the cobbled path

 the cloud has built up again behind us now!

Finally back to Seathwaite, known as the wettest place in the country!

The End of a great walk and to meet new friends, pity we didn't get to see the amazing views from the top of Great Gable. but a good excuse to climb it again:)
Many thanks to Gina for organising the walk and Ray for guiding us :)