Friday, 27 January 2012

Chester Zoo Trips jan 2012 Tropical and Butterfly houses

While the weather has been not too good for shooting landscapes i have had a few trips to Chester Zoo which is not too far away.  it is a superb place to spend a day with something different to shoot every visit :)

 I will start with a single Orang portrait from "The Realm of the Red Ape" house , as it is quite dark inside i had to shoot at iso 2000 , and shooting through dirty glass is never going to be easy!
i really think i captured this perfectly !  shooting with 100mm macro lens on 5d2

There are a few snake exhibits and reptiles inside also and the Python was in a really good position with its head just showing above the leaves.  i have never managed to shoot the python before and was really pleased to get this image, i had to jam the lens hard against the glass to keep it steady and shot at f5.6,  1/40th iso 2000.

and a Water Dragon :)    f4 , iso 3200 1/50th

Just outside the exit of the realm is the Flamingo pool , as it was very cold they where all kept inside so shooting through the glass i managed this shot .

The Tigers have a couple of cubs but after spending a while waiting to see them , i gave up! 
 i have no patience  Haha. 

The Giant Otters are always great fun to watch and they are so nosey :)  coming right up close to see what We are doing!   i must have spent about an hour watching and shooting them,  here are two images, both taken with 70-300 is on 5d2

After another look to see if the Tiger cubs were out , NOT! i decided to go into the Jaguar House to see how the new work is getting on, there is a very large exhibit being built with a huge aquarium but still nothing in it yet.
As i got to the indoor jaguar forest enclosure one of the keepers placed a dead chicken about 20 ft from the glass! " Pele " the black jaguars  Feeding Time!  Ya !  even in the poor light i shot these images with 100mm macro lens  iso 5000 &  6400  f5.6  the full frame sensor of 5d2 really is usable at these high iso settings :)

After yet another look to see if the tiger cubs were out,
 I was getting rather cold by this time!  Wimp!   lol
 so i went through to the tropical house to get warm!  
 as luck would have it the American Garter snakes were right next to the glass, so i put a 30 mm extension tube on to my 100mm macro and my macro Flash Diffuser set up .

it is quite difficult shooting through glass with flash but moving the flash diffuser to be flat against the glass i don't have any problem with reflections.

and a quick shot of a toucan/razorbill, cant remember which!  lol
iso 4000 , f6.3  ,1/30th  with 70-300 is

The last exhibit is one of my favourites, the Butterfly house, it is extremely hot and humid so placed camera into a plastic bag to slowly acclimatise it to the heat to prevent condensation on lens and Sensor!  after a good half hour of looking around and seeing which species were flying, i opened the bag and left it another 10m mins just to be sure!
The Glasswing butterfly has always been a favourite but so hard to shoot due to the transparent wings, flash just does not work so natural light shooting needed, which on a dull day indoors among loads of tall plants makes it very difficult to obtain a high enough shutterspeed.
there were a few flying , but all in the darkest areas!  Bummer!  but eventually found one in a brighter area , and beautifully perched at a nice height to be able to rest my left elbow on my knee to brace camera still.   shooting at iso 2000 f5.6,1/30  with 100mm L macro, the lens superb "image stabiliser" really does come in handy :)  at last i managed a great shot of one of these beauties !  So Happy! :)

an Indian leaf butterfly!

and a swallowtail.

The last shots i took were a Owl butterfly that was perched on a woven rope , shot at iso 1600 with 100mmL macro, focus stacked 10 frames handheld to increase depth of field.

On the next visit i did shoot the tiger cubs, awesome!   the subject of another blog :)

All images shot with canon 5d2, 100mmL macro,70-300is f5.6.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Springtail Madness jan 22nd

On Sunday i had another go at finding springtails in the garden,  i have a dead cordalyne and the bark is falling off , which makes a good hiding place for springtails :)
They like the damp conditions under the bark, so i just place a piece on the stone patio steps and wait for a few to "jump" off, then i can shoot them as they walk along the edge of the step!

The first one i found was the common species   Dicyrtomina saundersi ,a largish species up to about 3mm in length.  Shot with canon 5d2 and mpe at x5 mag , and cropped a bit!

After shooting this one, before it jumped somewhere!  LOL  i suddenly noticed a much smaller one, i initially thought it was just a smaller D saundersi  but when viewed through the mpe it appeared to have different coloured eyes!      i have since found out it is a recently found species in the uk , originating from New Zealand!   Calvatomina nr superba  ,  quite a small species , about 1.5 mm this individual specimen.

Note the black eye spots in the centre of a coloured eye patch!  again shot with mpe at x5 mag on full frame 5d2.

The next one i found was a quite large D Saundersi, but was tucked into a piece of wood bark, so this is the best angle i could get!

Later in the afternoon i went out to find some more, and found a new species that i haven't found in the garden before,  D minuta.  and this was a very small young one that apparently had just shed its skin!

Shot with 5d2 mpe @ x5 mag  as shot!  note the old skin shed!

it was so small i had to go and get my 450d crop sensor body to shoot with!

here is same springtail shot with 450d crop sensor @x5 mag  as shot, showing difference between full frame and crop sensor in magnification!!!!!!!!

and a cropped shot from the above image,  isn't it CUTE!   Haha

I then managed to find a quite large D saundersi , about 2mm  :),  it was shot as it walked along the top edge of stone step, so i could get a low shooting angle.  5d2, mpe @x5 mag  and cropped!

all shot with canon 5d2,450d and mpe-65 at x5 mag.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Helvellyn 16/1/12 Cloud inversion

The weather forecast was for a sunny blue sky day !    at last.  so i decided with the cold frosty nights that the conditions were looking good for cloud inversions in the English lake district.  so the plan was to climb up to the summit of Helvellyn 3117 ft   .
  i asked Pete if he wanted to come, NOT A CHANCE was the reply!  Haha
Having arrived at Thirlmere swirls car park, not a single car was there!   clear blue sky , no sign of a cloud inversion, BUT  a heavy frost covered the ground that did not clear all day!

    Note all images shot hand held as wind was too strong to stand upright, let alone use a tripod!  Haha

          I started climbing up the Helvellyn Gill track.  looking back to Thirlmere took this shot.  Frosty!

Turning around to look up the Gill!

Climbing up the steep icy rocky path i was rewarded with better views looking down on Thirlmere and Raven crag , the rocky outcrop over to the left in the image!

Upon gaining height rapidly i noticed the clouds building over to the left down the lake,  i took this shot with 70-300 is 

From this point the path steeply climbs up to Browncove crags. Sorry for rubbish pic!  lol
I'm heading to the top!!

 From near the top, a Cairn with a great view!

 From this point the rocky outcrop of Browncove crags became evident!  steep!

Turning around the corner i get a view over to the far fells behind Thirlmere, and the beginning of a cloud inversion!  Ya !

Another Cairn near the top of Browncove crag!   who builds these?  Great view!

Over the top of Browncove Crags i got my first view of the cloud inversion, and the sideways wind that nearly blew me over!!!!   More than once!  it was at this point i was thinking "WTF" am i doing here today!!!!

It was really blowing all the way across the top plateau to the summit !

But look at the view!  Wow! 

From this point the path levels out along a plateau towards the summit of Helvellyn :)
But in very strong winds it was difficult staying on my feet!  Lol
Yes it was very cold but didn't feel it.

Finally yet another summit Cairn :)   with cloud inversion behind!  Ya!

Like standing on top of the world above the clouds !  WOW!

And turning around to look at the way i have just walked! it appears to be beautiful weather conditions , BUT  wasn't actually!  with a lone walker in red! Haha

A panorama shot taken from nearer the summit!

                        Looking over to left from this image gave a good view of the cloud inversion .

A little further walk towards the summit trig point , yet another cairn!  (Pile of rocks! )
Cloud inversion! A truly amazing site to see!

I Finally got to the Trig point after about 2 hours 10 mins ish  Ya!  turning around looking down Ullswater  , a clear view for miles!

And Looking to the right !  A good view of "High Street" the long straight mountain range in the centre of the image which has a roman road across the top!!!!

Turning to the right once more, a view of  Fairfield (i think)  inside the cloud inversion!

and a view of Nethermost pike

After a 15 minute rest in the shelter out of the wind, along with 5 other mad people and 2 dogs! Haha !  my fingers were starting to get very cold! could not move them actually!!!!!!!!!!
 so much for neoprene thermal gloves!!!!!!!! 
The fell top assessor recorded   -11.9 degrees windchill and 39mph wind speed at 11.30am LOL
Having filled my memory card AND finding no spare! ARGH!!!!
i managed to delete enough frames to shoot a series of panoramas , Extremely hard shooting these  handheld in very strong wind!  so they are not aligned as well as they should have been if tripod used!
  l to r  , Swirral edge and Catstye Cam  ,Ullswater,Highstreet,Fairfield,Nevermost/Dollywagon pikes.just !

Nevermost pike

                                                                         Click for large size  

                                                         Looking back towards the trig point!
                                                                          Click for large size

                                     What a morning i had,  amazing views and a great hard walk ! 
    cant wait to get up in the mountains again!  makes a great change from shooting macro all the time!
                                                               Snowdon next week perhaps :)

                                       One last view of Thirlmere from the top of Browncove crags!
   before the long hard decent down the icy path!!!!!! a few more people climbing up the steep path now!
                                   Total trip time 3 hrs 29 mins , 4.87 miles, max height gained 3117 ft

                               I will say again!   Cant wait to climb the mountains again!  Haha

                                         All images shot with canon 5d2 and 17-40L  + 70-300is

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Frozen Dewdrop Shots. 15/1/12

There was a really good hard frost last night!   so i was lying on a plank of wood in the freezing cold early this morning shooting these shots!  lol             Must be MAD!
I Dont often get the chance to shoot them , so made the most of it!    521 frames shot in three freezing cold hours!    eventually i could not feel fingers or toes!  Haha.

This is a focus stacked frozen dewdrop. Dew forms naturally on the tips of blades of grass on cold nights after a warmish day.
shot at x4 magnification with canon mpe-65 macro lens. the depth of field is so shallow at this high magnification that focus stacking is used to increase the dof to cover all parts of the frozen drop.

                                                                 This is how its done!

Once a good dewdrop has been located on the lawn, i then place a small flower,( a primula in this case ) just behind the flower to give background colour. in a non frozen dewdrop, the flowers image is refracted inside the water drop. moving the flower back/forward will alter its position in the water drop , so can be moved slightly to give the best resulting image inside the drop.    

Here you can see how close the flower and drop are to each other, and the approximate angle position of the mpe lens when shooting. i use a large plank of wood to lie on ,and rest lens barrel on left hand to keep stable!
a series of frames are then shot , each with a slightly different focal point until all parts of the subject have been shot in focus. typically 8-14 frames at f7  should do, i align one of the crosshairs in the viewfinder to a noticeable part of the drop so i can keep all the frames fairly well aligned when shooting.     

Here is the flower/drop used for this sequence of shots.

Here are 4 of the individual frames , i used 8 in the final image. you can see in each frame the slight differences in focus point.     

the focus point in the next 2 frames was very slightly different on the main frosted drop.

All 8 individual images are then stacked in "zerene stacker"  to produce the final image, with significantly greater depth of field than a single shot could produce at this magnification.

I shot 11 frames , but chose to leave out 3 so the image has a natural dof, with the lower blade of grass out of focus.

                                                         Here are a few more that i shot :)

a crop from above shot!

I will post the best shots from today in next blog!
shot after i had warmed up a bit!!

all shots taken with canon 5d2 and mpe-65 macro lens.