Tag Archives: woodland

Frustrating for Fungi

One of the highlights of autumn each year is the fantastic array of fungi in our woodlands – something I’ve always enjoyed photographing as it’s a different approach and style to the norm of my work.

As well as having a number of local haunts that have worked well over the years I have also run a workshop at a great location in the south-east on precisely the same day of the year for the last half dozen or so now.

This year was the hardest I’ve ever known though – normally there are fungi in abundance in late October/early November but this really has been a bizarre autumn – warm, dry and frustrating for fungi and fungi photographers alike.

There was still enough to make it an enjoyable day with a good nuber of earthballs, a couple of very fresh fly agarics and some nice bunches of sulphur tufts too (although someone had decided to put a boot through the nicest bunch I’d spent the previous afternoon discovering…thanks whoever that was!) but as in so many ways this autumn I don’t think 2011 will be going down as my favourite fungi year for sure.  Good job you learn to roll with things in this line and look forward to next year eh?!

Pearl Beauties

I’ve always loved my macro photography at this time of year and our beautiful Butterflies have to be right up there amongst my favourite subjects to work with.  When I got an e-mail from a good friend Jason to tell me that he’d found a meadow for Pearl Bordered Fritillaries that was working well at his end of the county it was only a question of sorting out a day when I could squeeze an early morning session in and that worked for him too since he has a proper job to do!

You can see why I was particularly keen to get up for another pre-dawn run as these really are one of the prettiest species we are lucky enough to enjoy in the UK in my opinion and after some initial anxiety on both our parts as we searched for their overnight roosts all worked out well and it was well worth the effort.

This fellow had obviously had a tussle with a predator of some sort as part of his wing was missing and as a species these beautiful butterflies have been struggling significantly over recent years and are still in sharp decline.  This is due mostly to the lack of clearings in their woodland habitats as the whole traditional practice of coppicing has almost disappeared except where woods are specifically managed for wildlife.  Their hillside habitats too have been under pressure as general grazing by cattle and ponies that traditionally kept the balance between grass and bracken in check and these habitats have become more scrublike in their nature.

When working with a subject like this I like to try and cover a number of different options and and compositions as well as the classic side-on profile that I opened with, and although some of these may not be very classical I like the fact that they get across some personality as well as the inherent beauty in these delicate species.

I particularly like this last one – an approach you often see with damsel and dragonflies but less so with butterflies – I think it works quite well.

Thanks for a good morning Jason, and I know you got some decent stuff yourself too!

How do you define your Seasons?

The last week or so of warm weather, coming on the back of a really dry few weeks in this part of the world has really marked that Spring is definitely here now and Summer probably isn’t too far away.  It’s also got me thinking about just how as individuals we mark the passing of the seasons in an era when many of us are removed from nature generally.

For many it’s the simple things that impact on how they live their lives – brighter evenings at this time of the year and darker ones in the autumn certainly impact on our social activities.  For gardeners and farmers it’s where they are in terms of the years routines of planting, clearing, sowing, harvesting and so on.  For ornithologists it’s all about what’s on migration and what’s breeding or over-wintering dependent on where we are in the year.

As a wildlife photographer each year is full of projects.  This can be a combination of trips, research ventures, or working on specific species or habitats at certain times of the year when certain activites, behaviours or general presence is either at it’s optimum potential or offering something different. 

It’s all too easy to get into a far too regular cycle here though – and I hear many a conversation based around following the all too familiar path of photographic ventures as the seasons unfold, and whilst this is great if you haven’t worked on certain species before, have a specific set of images that you’re after or want to build on, or want to revisit something you did a while ago and feel you can improve on, then there’s a lot to be said for taking a different focus once in a while too.

This Spring, while I’ve never been too far away from my beloved Great Crested Grebes, and driven in part by the need for some images for a book project I’m working on for later this year, I’ve been getting up close and personal with some of our Spring wild flowers.  It’s been different, has given me the chance to well and truly think out of the normal box I work in, and although it’s not finished yet, there’s some images I’m pretty pleased with and that will round off my portfolio in a whole new area.

So look out for the Lesser Celandines, the Wood Anenomes, the Wild Garlic and Strawberries before they all disappear soon in this heatwave: they may well help you redefine your seasons photography.