Friday, 10 April 2015

Away, away away away, macro, macro.

A bit hazy today, most likely caused by the pollution in the atmosphere coming in from the continent.

Another family trip out (how I love the school holidays) this time to Gibside, gave me my first real opportunity to try out the macro settings on the x-s1 in the field, though thanks to the impatient kids I couldn't spend much time experimenting, as ice creams and play is deemed far more important (what a grumpy old get I'm becoming).

A Bee Fly in the Orangery was the first goody, but getting the little so and so in focus as it flitted among the flowers proved a bit tricky, I didn't have time to close in on it so this was the best I could do from a few feet :

Bee Fly probing a flower, and look at the length of those legs.

You can see the straw-like probiscus on this one
Hadn't realised what bonny little insects they are 

Next, as we took the trail through the wood, a small bright scarlet object on the floor caught my eye as we passed it. I stepped back and saw it move, and a closer look revealed it to be a massive red mite. I'm used to seeing those small ones weaving around on hot days but never seen one like this before. About half a centimetre in length I believed it to be a Velvet Mite, which I'd heard of but hadn't seen before, and sure enough , that's what it turned out to be.
I used the super macro function on this one, it wasn't easy to get in focus as it was constantly on the move, but thankfully one of the snaps came out pretty decent :

Velvet Mite
Amazing colour, amazing size!

Third interesting invertebrate for me to have a go at was a Tawny Mining Bee. There are a lot of these around at the moment (as told by the tiny 'volcanoes' they dig out to lay their eggs. but it's not easy to get one settled for any length of time. Luckily this one landed on the soil of a flowerbed and stayed put, so I ran off a few snaps before it was away again, but didn't really get close enough for a decent pic. A cracking insect though, lovely colour.

Tawny Mining Bee, a copper mine by the looks of it :-)
At the stable block we sat eating our ice-creams to the sound of a drumming GS woodpecker, and chanting chiffchaffs, then a familiar silhouette appeared in the skies above, hawking for insects; a Swallow, first I've seen this year and a very welcome sight.
I watched it darting around the sky for a while but could I hell get a photo of it, this blurry silhouette the best I could do.

One Swallow does not a summer make.
Now that's what I call a crap record shot :-O

It didn't seem to be 'just passing through' and I reckon the first of the returning breeders at the small colony in the stables. Be worth a visit in a few weeks to get pictures on the nest, always a treat to see the youngsters with gaping mouths as the adults come in with food, a photo opportunity in the making this year I think.        


  1. I don't know how well it would work on your canera Alan but on many of my macro images (when i start taking them) i use manual focus. Focusing presents more issues close up.

    1. Cheers John, I'll try that on still subjects I think, it's a bit tricky using the focus ring on a moving insect. I become a bit of a sweary mary as it is :-)