Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Fun at Ryton Wood Meadows

On 04/09/11   i travelled south again down to ryton wood meadows near Coventry, for the Warwickshire Butterfly Conservations brown hairstreak blitz ,  the weather was not looking good to see any of the adults ,it was pouring down all the way , but started to clear up as i reached the car park.
  Gillian Thompson had been searching for the brown hairstreak eggs on the blackthorn over the previous three weeks with exceptional success ,  the count was up to about 325 eggs !  so i would easily be able to photograph them at high magnification.

I met Gill and while she started egg hunting i decided to shoot a few of the local inhabitants !   here is one of the longhorn cattle that are grazing the meadow!  lol 

And  a few local spiders to shoot first -

Then managed a shot of a scorpionfly and a wet tachinid fly.

With a few shots done it was time to meet the group from butterfly conservation to be shown around the reserve , it was led by Mike Slater and he showed us where the different butterfly species are to be found in the meadows and the nearby woods.  hopefully next season i will be able to find them quite easily :)

Now it was time to join Gill back along the boundary between the wood and the meadows to photograph the brown hairstreak eggs,  this is when the fun started !!!!!!!
Because the eggs are so small, approx 0.7 mm  i had to shoot with canon mpe-65 macro lens at its maximum x5 magnification, which is quite difficult, and today for some reason i really struggled to get a decent series of shots to focus stack!    here is a double egg shot with a second image with a finger tip for scale!

The fun soon started while looking for eggs, with Gill being attacked by a wild bramble stem!  fortunately she Won!  and the bramble got a good kicking afterwards   lol .   The same cannot be said about my experience!

After this episode, i was shooting some "location" shots with her camera for the blog when I got attacked!   the bramble was wrapped around both my feet, so had to call for HELP!  over came Gill, but instead of helping me, she just grabbed her camera and started shooting my predicament!   (you know who your friends are when you need help !   thanks Gill ! )  lol

I ended up on the ground, and heard the camera clicking away and lots of laughter!     fortunately, she was laughing so much most of the shots were out of focus and blured!    :) 

It was a good time i thought to teach her how to shoot with the mpe, and considering it is an extremely hard lens to use the resulting image is "exceptional"   well worth all the swearing,moaning and complaining i had to endure!!!      i did receive an apology later that night :) 
At first, using it on a tripod it is very difficult to get close enough to the hairstreak eggs, at x5 mag ,the focal distance is about 1.5 inch! especially with the flash diffuser next to the lens,  eventually she agreed to shoot handheld, and with MY help to hold the quite heavy, unbalanced camera and lens a few good shot where eventually taken!
 Gill was really unhappy at this point ,but i assured her that she had done really well for a first attempt with this lens , especially at its maximum magnification and the images were going to be quite good!    at this point we both didn't realise how good the finished 2 frame focus stack was going to be!!!!!
The resulting image was better than any i had taken this day , and is now on the west midlands butterfly conservation website, in the annual magazine and it is hopefully going to be printed on a reserve information board!!!!!!!!!
I TAUGHT HER WELL!!!!!!!!!!  she is so happy now! 

here is the brown hairstreak egg taken by Gillian Thompson  i am really proud of her accomplishment!

After all this , she agreed for me to take her portrait, this is the one i like best

"looking for eggs in the blackthorn! "

We both had a really great day, one to remember for a long time, and having been shown how to use the mpe, her next attempt at using it was accomplished with ease ,  but that is for a later blog!

All shots taken with canon 5d2, 500d,mpe-65,100mm L macro.

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