Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I'm a meanderthal man...

If you look up 'Meanderthal' in the urban dictionary, you'll see that it's a word that suits me well-not only that but it might be applied to this blog entry with equal merit.


Meandethal: An old person who walks about at an extremely slow pace. This word is a combination of 'meander' which means to walk slowly with no apparent destination, and 'neanderthal' which refers to something old, ancient or prehistoric.

Definition 2 : Conversationalist who wanders from one subject to another with no apparent point, never reaching the end of the story.

Well, definition one certainly describes how I appear at least to wander about aimlessly whilst out bug-hunting:and slow would also be apt for fear of missing anything. As for the old,ancient or prehistoric part? Well I'm no Justin Bieber that's for sure!(Thankfully.)

Definition 2 Could be useful to quantify this particular blog entry because unless my writing skills are more deft than I myself feel they are,I may well be struggling to keep on the straight and narrow.

Shall I explain?... Easy! Easy!...just "yes please" would have been sufficient.

O.K. What I'll do to placate you after suffering this much text at the start of a blog-entry is add a pretty little picture here and then go on to 'add filling to the sandwich' thereafter...

I was pleased that my photograph (above) of an Orange-Tip Butterfly was published recently in the newspaper 'Kent On Sunday' in their section 'Images Of Kent' I apologise for the quality of the photo reproduced here but it was the best I could manage from a pdf download of the newspaper page.

Why am I sharing this with you? Firstly I've taken the liberty of assuming that you'll be interested and secondly, it demonstrates nicely just how the weather has impacted on my bug-hunting of late-even the butterflies have all but disappeared for the time being.

And all this brings us back to my opening gambit of trying to pre-warn you that consequently, this entry may wander a little with no real theme other than that of a total lack of bugs and insects due to our great British climate.

What to do when the weather is against you?

Having been experimenting with image stacking and knowing that this is for the most part an indoor sport, I have spent a few afternoons with all manner of tubes, bellows, lenses and frankly, ridiculous, Heath Robinson looking contraptions trying to produce some quality images this way but mainly managing to try my patience!

This bee pictured above was one of my first efforts and is a full-frame shot that although shows promise, was not exactly what I was hoping for with either lighting or detail. My problem to some extent is that the better these stacked shots get, the more critical I become of them. I suppose though that it's better than getting complacent and thinking that it's all just a bit too easy?

Having fiddled with the lighting and changed to a different lens, I progressed to this shot of a common earwig. Once again I was reasonably pleased with the outcome but was still looking to improve my technique.

The other major consideration with photographing tiny critters in this manner is the prerequisite of a non-moving subject: by that I mean that they be deceased! Now bug-hunting is one thing, but to then add in searching out dead creatures is even by my own twisted values, verging on 'weird'. Of course there are those who are willing to kill their subject to obtain the best possible image but that rankles with me and kind of goes against the grain.

Dead creatures are as much a part of nature as are those in the land of the living of course and once you begin to look for them, are not too difficult to locate but I'm not sure it's something that'll become 'de rigueur' for this particular nature lover.


On this final image I had started to get to grips with the whole process a little more and had also realised that the lack of image sharpness was probably due to vibration and not lens quality. I resolved to improve again on my set-up by making a new rail/stage and at the same time, add some extra lighting before attempting any-more focus stacked images.

I'm pleased to be able to report that I've now carried out the improvements but have yet to find the time to road-test them.


Following on from a very warm March, April has been a real let-down and spring seems to have been put on hold for now. It has just been too cold and wet for most invertebrates.There has emerged something of a pattern lately though, in that the day seems to start well with early sunshine following on from even earlier, or indeed, overnight frost-that then degenerates into a grey gloom for the rest of the day.

Perhaps in the absence of anything else an early morning meander would be an idea?
"Yes, that's what I'll do" I thought as my head hit the pillow at the end of yet another wet and bug-less day, and so it was that the very next morning at 6.30am I was out and about 'meanderthal-ling' all over the place.

Early morning Hoverfly
On some long grass beside a local pond I spotted this little hoverfly that had obviously spent the night perched here and as it was still too cold for it, it made an easy subject to photograph without fear of it flying off.

At more-or-less the same location I saw another beefly perched in the same position as the one I photographed a while ago. Perhaps I'm getting better at finding these because until this year I've not seen this behaviour at all and now I've witnessed it twice in as many weeks.
It's interesting too that once again it's one of the paler specimens.

I decided to opt for natural light only for these early morning shots:it means that there's a little less detail but set against that is the gain of a more naturalistic light and hence, hopefully, photo.

Since I ventured out to get these few shots the weather has worsened again and now even dawn photography sessions are impossible. Until things improve, there's always the image stacking to return to I suppose but what we really need is the return of spring and so if anyone has influence in such matters?

Until the next time then...


  1. Absolutely stunning photos as ever! I especially love the early morning dewey ones! Let's hope some reasonable weather returns very soon!

  2. Hi Maria,
    Thanks for taking time to comment. Yes, it seems like ages since we've had good weather and I'm starting to miss my long walks in the sunshine already.

  3. Oh! I needed that laugh...You are a fantastic natural writer...that 2nd hoverfly on the long grass is soooo nice, and wow, that last stacking example...gorgeous !!! Best regards, Stellahhh..;-)

  4. Thanks Stellahhh!
    I may be a natural writer but you're a natural person :-)

  5. Great blog JJ.Love the hoverfly but the beefly is a beauty. Iv'e been trying a bit of stacking too but i agree trying to find a dead insect that's in good condition is surprisingly hard. Keep up the good work. Derek Cluskey.


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