Category Archives: Flora and fauna

Ladybird, ladybird


Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
And her name is Ann,
And she hid under the baking pan

Go on, admit it. I bet you didn’t know the full rhyme. I didn’t until I looked it up on t’internet 5 minutes ago. I certainly didn’t know about Anne hiding under the baking pan. I also didn’t know that ladybirds are commonly viewed as lucky. I could do with a bit of luck at the moment as routine bites hard and ambitions are low… Again, I have no idea what this plant is, which I suppose makes me a pretty rubbish flower photographer; maybe I should stick to buttercups and daisies? In the meantime, luck be a ladybird tonight. I going now before I run out of clichés to spout and Joy Division lyrics to purloin

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Globe thistle

Globe thistle bw

Do flowers work in black and white? Probably not most of the time but in this case I think it does. The colour version is pretty much all one colour anyhow – green – and the monochrome helps add texture to the globe thistle, for that is what it is, apparently (although I stand to be corrected). I can’t work out whether this is in flower or pre/post flower but I think this is before the thistle has flowered, which is even more reason to go black and white. This is a last minute replacement for the picture that I was going to blog but which I am told is ‘too nice to waste on the blog’, which means my better half wants it on her wall. I may well post that particular picture a bit later… but I am considering entering it in a competition and rules mean I can’t post it just yet. I’m such a tease; however, in the meantime I don’t think this is a lesser image. Yet again it highlights the advantages of the 50mm prime lens – every photographer should have one, especially given the cheap price (approx £80) when compared to other lenses. Ultra fast and great depth of field

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yellow flower

I promised flower pictures this week and here is the first. Not taken in my friend’s garden but in my own. I have no idea what it is but I am sure that someone will tell me – I’d ask the gardener in the family but she is out gallivanting. Here I was trying to focus on the small buds of pollen (?) on the ends of the stamens using the 50mm lens and the extension ring, which is why the flower itself is blurred in the background. Not sure if it works but I like it; could maybe benefit from being cropped but at least here you can tell its a flower…

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Perfect day


It’s been one of those great weekends. Good company, good food, food wine. Lots of families enjoying themselves together and most importantly very relaxing. Spent most of Saturday at a good friend’s garden party/BBQ; she always maintains that it’s always sunny on her birthday and the law holds true for another year. My friends garden is her project and hobby, much like photography is for me, so there may well a few flower pictures this week for which I make no apologies – at least you will be getting something new.

Highlight of the day though was the flashmob. Word went out the day before that guests were to learn the dance moves to accompany a Lady GaGa song and surprise the birthday girl en masse. Needless to say it was the youth that led the way and I managed to get out of it by offering to film it.

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As I said on Saturday, and given the dearth of Glastonbury, pictures I have been revisiting some old pictures of late to try and wring some aesthetic value out of them. This is a picture from our recent trip to Bala and again shows the lake (Lyn Tegid) and mountain in the background that feature in the ‘Twaflete’ post from last month. It is also from the same set of pictures that I took of buttercups on the lakeside, which quite a lot of people seem to like. The colour version of the photo is nothing to write home about but I did like the contrast between the dark blades of grass and the bright yellow of the buttercups so I thought I would process a black and white version to see how things turn out. I’m pretty pleased with it and consider it an image rescued . It was taken using the trusty 50-mm prime lens with a wide-open aperture of f1.8, hence all that lovely blur – or bokeh – if you have been paying attention. And yes it was deliberate. File under ‘arty’.

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Snail’s pace


Anyone who follows me on Twitter (@Zardoz67 should you feel the need) will know that I went a bit mental this afternoon, expounding at length about snails and my theory that they were actually visitors from another world. And, while I don’t genuinely believe this (yes I was attempting humour) I do find them to be quite alien. I spent most of the day in the garden clearing out the borders and hacking up a dead tree with an axe (manly pursuits I’m sure you’ll agree). As I was chopping (ooh er) I came across this snail (ooh er again) in the middle of a pile of twigs I was keeping for kindling.

Snails are great for macro photography as they don’t go anywhere. I was able to nip upstairs, grab the camera, locate the macro extension tube, have a cup of tea, cuff a child about the ear (joke) and get back outside to see the snail had moved about 2 inches. Took lots of pictures but I liked this one because it does actually have a sense of movement,  which (being a snail) is quite different to catch. As you can see, the snail is heading away from me and the focus is on the shell. Given that macro photography needs a wide open aperture you therefore have a lovely depth of field and I actually find the iridescence of the shell quite beautiful. I also like all the debris clinging to the shell. I should probably do this more i.e. take an off the cuff picture for daily blogging purposes but such spontaneity requires careful planning.

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Positive thoughts


Everybody likes a flower picture right? Well I know at least one regular reader of the blog that does. So here are some more buttercups from the banks of Bala Lake. Despite the darkening sky there are traces of sunshine so I am remaining optimistic, despite the continuing rain. I am now signing off now until next week; what follows will be a selection of photos that may illustrate what i am up to but then again may not. People wonder why we English obsess so much about the weather. You are about to find out…

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Bala buttercups

Another picture from last weekend and an example of the contrary nature of the photographer’s lot. You would think that with the landscape of Wales’ largest lake and surrounding mountains to photograph then this would be the focus of the window of opportunity I had to take pictures. I did indeed take loads of pictures of the lake and surrounding countryside but as I go through them there are not that many that I actually like. Of course it may be that I need to leave them for a while and come back (I have found this to work in the past) but the fact is that I committed the cardinal sin of getting the camera’s image sensor dirty (too much lens changing I’m afraid) and some of the later pictures are going to need a lot of post processing work to clean them up – and I have not got the heart for it at the moment.

I think that this is my biggest failure as a photographer – I am always changing lenses in the the field as I am never quite sure which to use. In other words I try to hedge my bets. On the plus side this over cautious approach means that of all the rubbish I take at least some are worthy of taking forward. The downside is that when you take the lens off a camera, especially if you forget to turn it off (which I frequently do) then dust can get inside attracted to the static generated. As a glasses wearer I am also always taking my glasses on and off, putting them down, losing them, standing on them etc… Basically, I am not particularly well organised and this is definitely something I need to work on.

Anyway, of all the pictures that I did take, the best are a series of pictures capturing buttercups growing on the lakeside. Some of these have turned out really well i.e. I might be able to do something commercial with them such as producing some artwork or entering more competitions (not that I have had much success of late). Again, I experimented with different lenses and this one was with the camera’s standard 18-55mm kit lens. I like the sharp focus of the flowers against the background blur of the lake, mountains and bruised purple sky. You can tell the daylight is fading but there is just enough sunshine breaking through the clouds to illuminate the flowers.

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Red Campion

Red campion

A tall plant, growing up to two feet. The leaves at the base are oval and have long stalks, but those on the stem are short-stalked, more pointed and hairy. The deep rose-coloured flowers are about n1 inch across, and appear from April to October. This is a very common plant of shay hedgerows. The Ladybird  Book of British Wild Flowers 1957

So there you go. I managed to actually identify one of the flowers in one of my pictures. A first. I must in fact credit my wife as the Ladybird book is hers. She would like to point out that she was not born in 1957, the book was; it was old before she was given it. OK! Another picture that illustrates that investing in the extension tube was a good move.

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On reflection


You may have noticed from this blog that I have a thing for reflections or water in general. More often that not I find the reflection of the subject that I’m photographing more interesting than the subject itself. This seems to be borne out by the fact that of all the pictures I have sold via Society6 it is the picture of a tree reflected in water that has outsold everything else. Water is a brilliant thing to play with when taking photographs and as I seem to drawn to pictures of the sea or lakes or canals I am wondering whether it’s the reflectiveness of the surface that makes the difference; certainly my pictures of Crosby, which I am still struggling to match, came about through perfect winter light and the fact that the tide had just gone out to leave wet sand like glass.

I am hoping that this pictures is a case in point. It’s nettles and cowslips reflected in a water trough in a farmer’s field. Not the most interesting of subjects but the water gives it a little something that a picture of the plants themselves just wouldn’t have. The black and white helps as well, rendering the reflection as a silhouette. Some of best pictures have come about by shooting reflections, even in puddles, and although rain is generally not the photographer’s friend the period after heavy rain can be magical.

I am very much at a loose end today. My children have gone to their grandparents for A WHOLE WEEK due to the way the school holidays have fallen. Whilst this is quite an exciting prospect, I also know I will miss them terribly. It could be an interesting week…

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