Photographing little things

I’ve had a fantastic weekend photographing flowers and insects on Anglesey and in Snowdonia. The weather was beautiful and it was great to be out in the sunshine. Unfortunately, the hot, dry weather meant little creatures like frogs were hiding somewhere cool and damp where we couldn’t find them. Otherwise, the weekend was only marred by worrying about my dad. He had a fall in the garage on Friday evening and is in hospital, with it looking increasingly likely that he’ll need a second round of surgery to try and close the nasty gash on his calf. Plastics in Liverpool are being consulted so we’ll just have to wait and see what they advise.

The weekend was led by Eifion from Welshot Photographic Academy and Victoria Hillman, and there were just 5 or 6 ‘Welshotters’ each day so we had lots of opportunities to ask questions. Victoria has a degree in zoology and a masters degree in wildlife biology and conservation and has become an expert in macro photography, taking pictures of little plants and animals. I’d recommend her book, Forgotten Little Creatures to anyone who likes beautiful pictures of plants, insects, amphibians and reptiles, particularly anyone who is interested in learning more about them and how to photograph them.

The weekend started at Penmon point,  a beautiful spot on the Anglesey coast with a lighthouse, overlooking Puffin Island and Snowdonia, across the Menai Straits. It was a lovely sunny morning with a breeze to keep us cool. There were lots of people around, fishing, watching the views and playing in the rock pools.

It was enjoyable searching out small, interesting things to photograph and the morning flew by quickly. There were crusty barnacles and slippery seaweed everywhere and we had to be careful… My feet got wet a few times because the tide was coming in and the waves were washing over the rocks. Amongst all the smooth pebbles and seaweed, I found a sea anemone like a blob of red jelly, a shiny beetle, limpets, other shells and curly snails in a variety of colours. Eifion gave me some tips on focussing, and we had a chat about focus stacking and bracketing, which I decided not to use on this occasion.

My parents live near Beaumaris so, when we stopped for lunch, I popped to see my mum to find out how my dad was, rather than joining the others for fish and chips in the town. Afterwards, I rejoined the group and we left some of the cars in the park and ride near Menai Bridge, before setting off to find Cors Erddreiniog nature reserve. It took us a while and we took a few wrong footpaths but we got there in the end.

It was great to have the opportunity to photograph some insects at the nature reserve and  I was pleased to get some lovely pictures of dragonflies, damselflies, bugs and butterflies. Victoria explained how insets are creatures of habit and come back to the same place to rest, therefore, if you stay still, you’ll eventually get a good shot. We learnt a bit about the different insects  that we spotted, including how to tell dragonflies and damselflies apart. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten all their names already. I need to get myself some wildlife books! Another interesting thing was that insects don’t hear in the way that we do and, although I thought I was scaring them off when my camera clicked, it was unlikely to be the sound and more likely to be because I moved a bit. The camera clicks certainly didn’t frighten the big dragonfly who seemed to like posing for us to take his picture!

I’ve also forgotten the names of all the lovely flowers we saw, but I’ll look them up when I have time. If anyone can tell me, please post in the comments! The highlights were the orchids… common spotted and marsh, I think… and the carnivorous sundew.

The following day, we spent the morning in Snowdonia, at beautiful Cwm Idwal. It was a lovely sunny day and, once again, we spent the time crawling around on the floor getting as close to the flowers as possible, as in the iPhone photo at the top of the page!

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The ground was very dry although, from all the moss and the types of plants, it’s obviously very boggy usually. We were pleased we found lots of sundew among the cotton grass. I love the sundew’s tiny, pretty white flowers. I’m less sure about the insects that’s it’s eating!

I wandered around the hillside, trying not to tread on any plants, and found a few other interesting flowers and even a couple of mushrooms, which were drying out in the hot sun. Victoria gave me some advice on how to make my images more interesting, by getting very low and shooting through the grass to frame the subject.

The afternoon was to be spent at Newborough but, after having lunch in Brynsiencyn, I left the group to visit my dad in hospital before making my way home. I’m not too disappointed because it was lovely to see dad looking cheerful and well, in spite of his bandaged leg and the drip in his arm. Plus I managed to get to most of the event and throughly enjoyed it. Also, I think, my photographs improved over the course of the weekend. I love macro photography and I’m looking forward to practising. I really hope I can get to one of Victoria’s workshops on photographing little creatures. I’ll be wishing for damp weather on that occasion so the frogs and toads come out to play!

 

 

 

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