(Click on images to enlarge)
20th August 2011: Something, or someone, has fiddled with my fox-cam! I carefully set up the remote camera each time I use it. I select a suitable target – usually a distinctive tree or bush – so that I can estimate distances of the animals from the lens when I am reviewing the photographs. I checked my camera last week and again today, and on both occasions it had been turned away from its intended target. I was beginning to suspect someone might be playing a joke on me. However, when I reviewed the fox-cam images this evening, all became clear. The culprit is named and shamed in the slide show below.
My recent attempts at photographing grasshoppers have set me off on a huge macro photography trip. I am finding the process absolutely fascinating and very absorbing. My usual nature photography has suffered a little as a result – not that I’m alarmed or disappointed by this. Things will get back to a normal footing in their own good time. At this point, though, being catapulted into a world of insects is exciting, colourful and a new dimension has been added to my photography.
Crawling through the undergrowth and getting caught-up in brambles has become second nature. I have, of course, done all this crawling business before: it is now more of an extreme activity. Inspection of nooks and crannies has developed into an obsession. I have found myself leaning at awkward angles, with my limbs stretched to their limits in my search for interesting insects to photograph. I haven’t been bitten or stung yet, but it’s most likely just a matter of time before I am. I’m as steady as a rock when buzzed by large serious looking flying insects; some have had very nasty-looking stinging equipment attached. The thing is I can’t be worrying about wasps and other flying things whispering in my ears when I am focusing my camera on an insect. Macro photography requires a very steady hand, a lot of patience and some pretty intense concentration at times. As I’ve not been blessed with an abundance of patience that those in the know say is a prerequisite to successful insect photography, I photograph the every-day varieties of insects that appear in front of my camera – easy targets, if you like!
Predictably, when I am lying prone on the ground waiting on an insect, I am not keen on being overwhelmed by biting ants. Stinging nettles, and various kinds of animal poo are best avoided, too – badger poo is the worst. I suppose such trials and tribulations are a necessary part of getting the job done. I can’t be doing with niceties, either. My priority is to get the images in my camera as quickly as possible; if I delay pressing the shutter button, the insects will fly somewhere else in an instant. I am not bothered by the strange looks and probing questions of passers-by, either. It’s advisable not to attract people’s attention, if at all possible. When at a party, I try not to mention that I photograph insects. Such naivety can result in my being left checking-out my latest insect photos on my Blackberry, all on my own in some lonely corner, whilst everyone else are enjoying themselves. Crawling around a neighbour’s front garden with a camera pressed tightly to your eye is to be avoided, also. Even if you have asked the permission of a responsible adult – preferably the garden owner – I don’t think it’s a good idea.
My advice to anyone thinking of getting involved with macro photography is: ‘Do it well away from the public gaze!’ There are people out there who will make it their business to find out what you are up to. Crawling about in the undergrowth and lying prone on the ground will engage people’s interest. They WILL want to ask questions, and they WILL expect sensible answers. If immersing yourself in your surroundings as a means of ignoring these people’s attentions seems a good idea, then I suggest you think again. They might not go away! A concerned old person with the very best of intentions – they are likely to be a member of the local Neighbourhood Watch – will be determined to find out what you are doing. They will hold their ground and insist that you answer their questions. If you don’t respond immediately, they will probably prod you with a walking stick or run over your legs with a Zimmer frame. When you eventually give in, and you will, you might as well haul yourself from the ground with all the good grace you can muster, and engage them in friendly conversation. It’s a much simpler and safer option in the long-run. If you make the mistake of slinking away to another location in disgust, don’t be surprised if you find yourself holding a more serious conversation with an officer of the law. Dog walkers will be curious at best and alarmed at worst, when confronted with your immobile legs poking from underneath a bush. They might ignore you and they might call the police, an ambulance, or both. So be careful.
For me, the overwhelming attraction of insect photography is in the extreme ugliness of some of the subjects. Undeniably, viewing large detailed images of these often vicious looking flying assassins is both interesting and dramatic.