This is turning into a natural history website!

Lockdown has given me lots of extra time to examine my Oxfordshire* garden and its wildlife, more specifically the life that feeds or lives/dies, on my eryngiums.

* Yes, I know I have a Wiltshire postal address, but that’s a quirk of Royal Mail’s systems.

I’ve also had a chance to try out my Olympus’s “Pro Capture” mode for getting just the right shot of a moving subject.  It makes flying insect photography less hard – but it’s still not easy!

I tried slower objects first.  Their wings move slower, so in theory you can stop the movement with a fast shutter speed.  The problem is that they fly in random  directions, so you need a small aperture to have some chance of getting them in focus.  With this comma butterfly I caught it just taking off, when it hadn’t moved far from the plane of focus.

I failed to successfully photograph flying bumblebees many times, but eventually my patience paid off.  As I photographed the white-tailed bumblebee flying in from the right, the other bee popped out from behind the flower to balance the composition.  Both these images were taken with the Olympus 40-150 Pro lens.  It’s really a very good lens, though big and heavy for a M43 lens.

On one flower there was a bee that wasn’t flying.  There is usually a good reason for that, and in this case it was the attentions of a Candy Stripe spider.  It had been lurking under the spiky leaves of the eryngium, and when the bee triggered a web strand it pounced.  I had to lie on the ground under the flower with my Olympus 60mm macro lens as close to the spider as possible.  It got another bee today.

It’s worth taking a closer look at the plants in your garden, or a nearby park, to see what’s living, or dying, on them.

 

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