Saturday, August 06, 2011

Vanity Fare bringing some light relief....

It's 1969 and local man Eddie Wheeler and his band Vanity Fare named after William Makepeace Thackeray's classic novel (Albeit with a subtle change of spelling to avoid copyright issues) are about to receive a gold disc for their song 'Early In The Morning' 

They went on to achieve notable success, especially in America and are still touring here in Kent 40 years on (go and see them if you get a chance, they're still good value). Rock 'n' Roll they ain't but their sweet harmonies are pleasant enough and kinda uplifting.
It's the reason I chose them as an opener/introduction to today's blog entry. After the nastiness of the previous one, I wanted to put all that behind me and get back on track in a more light-heated manner.
Early in the morning is also apt because it's to be the subject of this entry.

It's one of the joys of natural macro photography that you can often get your best shots in either the warm evening light, or the early morning before the sunlight becomes too harsh. It's also, given the right atmospheric conditions, a great way of finding and photographing bugs and insects that have 'roosted' for the night and can oft be located motionless and covered in 'morning dew' (there has to be another song title there?)

Yesterday morning looked ideal when I peeped out of the bedroom window at around 5am.
Gathering together all of my macro gear, I pulled on my trusty wellies (gumboots) and headed for a likely spot.

On arrival it was clear that firstly, there was barely enough light yet (it was still only around 5.30am) and then that the fields were indeed clothed in a fine mist and lots of wonderful 'morning dew' I've have to pause here and explain that everytime I write that phrase ('Morning Dew') another song pops into my head and I can't resist the urge to also add a LINK to that one!
It's not the original but still a cool version.

My first find was way down in the undergrowth, well long grass anyhow; it was a tiny spider and it's prey. I had a go at photographing it using just natural light but sans my tripod (I decided not to take it today) it was proving impossible to get enough light without a very slow speed and that meant movement. I settled on leaving the spider be and hunting out something else. The one shot I did save makes for interesting light patterns in the strands of spider web though. Look at the movement on the very fine strands and how it's separated the light into fabulous, subtle, pastel colour blocks.

Click on image for a larger view

Hmmmm...a sleeping snail! No really, this'll make for a better photo? I got into position, knees soaking up the dampness from the grass I was in contact with and trying not to disturb him (?) I carefully began to shoot the mollusc. It was right at this point that the thought occurred "I wonder what snails dream about"  Possibly, where to find a good NHS dentist? I say that because most snails have thousands of microscopic teeth on their tongue (called a radula) that acts like a file, ripping their food into small, edible bites.

Click for larger version
He (I'm calling it as male but have no idea how to tell the difference really) seemed quite comfortable on his perch and after a few shots I also left him alone to enjoy his rest. 

You can't have snails without slugs too! It was obvious that slugs are early risers compared to snails and hence there were loads of them around taking advantage of the moist conditions.

The angle on this shot clearly shows the slug's 'Pneumostome' or breathing-hole. Spiders, slugs and snails...not very inspired choices of invertebrates to begin? I guess that although I find them fascinating and worthy photographic subjects, you'll be wanting something a little more photogenic?

How about a couple of shots of a ladybird then? Everyone loves ladybirds don't they? I've not seen a terrific variety of ladybird species this year but at the moment, these 7-spot ones are plentiful.

By now I'd been wandering amongst the grasses and assorted wild flowers of my local meadow for quite a while; the sun had risen to a height where the intensity was beginning to increase and I now need to pick my spot carefully to avoid harsh shadows. It was still reasonably good, warm light for photography but I knew that time was now at a premium. If I wanted more photos, it would need to be in the next few minutes or it'd be too late for today, Tempus fugit! 

Interestingly (at least I would like to think so, I'll leave you to decide) the term Tempus fugit is said to have first appeared in a poem by the Roman poet Virgil.

The full (translated) quote from the poem goes thus:
"But meanwhile it flees: time flees irretrievably, while we wander around, prisoners of our love of detail."
How very apt too! Prisoner of my love of detail is exactly how I feel at times

Back to the plot then.....
Having spotted and photographed the ladybird, I'd begun to look skywards a little, rather than at my feet. Often it's possible to come across butterflies that have been roosting for the night and it was in my mind that perhaps, even though sightings of lepidoptera in general have become fairly rare this year in comparison to others, I might be lucky today. As it turned out, no sooner had the thought entered my mind than on a long, dry grass stem I saw a familiar flash of blue amongst the beige.

A 'Common Blue' (Polyommatus icarus) revealed itself as I drew nearer. Probably a male as far as I could tell, wings closed. About 15mm in size and like everything else, apart from the slug, motionless and awaiting the full warmth of the sun, before being able to dry it's wings and fly.
Once the sun had done it's job of bringing back the butterfly to life, it would not have to work too hard to source nectar; the filed was scattered with large patches of bird's-foot trefoil, its favourite food-plant.

Click on picture for a larger version

Finally for this entry, I walked home after my photo session through some more fields and these had been recently cut; the resulting grasses were now forming those huge rotund shapes, covered in black plastic that seem to populate most farmland at this time of year.

I have a habit of looking for macro-photo opportunities wherever I go and these looked like they could be suitable for a couple of shots. The black plastic covering them was still at this time of the morning (around 7.30 now) covered in water droplets.
I stopped for a time and messed around with reflections. The last picture here is the result of one of these shots.
It's probably the closest you'll ever get to seeing a photo of yours truly in one of these entries.
I ought to point out that the large white, round shape you can see in the reflection is actually my flash diffuser. However, the droplets have acted like a natural magnifying glass and it seems out of proportion, it's really not that big!

Click for larger version

I've said this many times, to many folk now but it has been a strange year for invertebrates. Many species have been well down in numbers and some I haven't seen at all, others are thriving locally.
Here we are approaching the second week of August already and yet, my tally of dragonflies is only 3 surely we will get to see some before the onset of Autumn? I know that the very early, bad weather may have affected them but I'm still hopeful of being able to devote an entry to these marvellous insects sometime soon.

Until the next time then...

1 comment:

  1. There seem to be tons of dragonflies around here this year, everywhere you turn they are flying around. It actually seems more than usual. I hope you find some more before fall. I loved your ladybug covered in the morning mist. :)

    PS- Wellies are rubber boots over here. :)


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