Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category


Favourite shot so far with my new Sony HX50 camera – a scarlet lily beetle, Lilioceris lilii

All I want is a decent point-and-shoot compact camera that is good at taking pictures of birds from a great distance and flowers and insects in close-up. Plus general views, obviously.

I have great affection for my old Olympus Camedia C-765 Ultra Zoom, which has been with me since August 2004, a good five years before I started this blog. I had long been wondering what (more…)

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One of the alignments of standing stones at Carnac in Brittany, France, in 1975…

This self-indulgent trip down memory lane has been prompted by two things. It was the midsummer solstice on Friday and the Le Mans 24-hour car race took place at the weekend. Bringing these together, here are my very faded images from an archaeology field trip to see the megaliths (“huge stones”) of Brittany (including Le Mans) in 1975.

It was my first (more…)

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Institutional blue reappearing on a green-painted fence, March 2, 2013…

The above is an iPhone snapshot and this is just a short post to launch my 2013 gallery, which you can see here.

But it’s also to ask if anyone else out there recognises this turquoise colour as “institutional blue”. A couple of decades ago it seemed (more…)

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The view from my window – with Photoshop stained glass filter…

This post is just a bit of playing around with Photoshop, really. I’ve had Photoshop CS3 for years but still love messing about with the “filters” options. They are such an easy way of creating a special effect with no artistic talent whatsoever!

As the basis for these experiments I used this image of (more…)

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Red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) on ivy in the garden, June 11, 2011

I was so pleased to catch a picture of this red spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) that I thought I would post it, as well as adding it to my spider identification project page.

It was running around very fast on a variegated ivy plant outside in the garden, over and under a leaf, and kept on evading me. I wouldn’t have noticed it if it hadn’t been moving, as it was less than half a millimetre long. It must have paused for just a moment on the stem when I shot this.

Spider mites are a pest on house plants and in the greenhouse, weaving their webs and sucking the life out of the plants. I don’t mind them in the garden, though (I say this even though this is the first time I have seen them outdoors…). More information about red spider mites on Wikipedia here.

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An aggressive young female blackcap in a dead bush in the garden in February 2011

It doesn’t seem fair or right to me that we have to call such an obviously browncapped bird a “blackcap”, just because the male of the species has a black top.

Similarly with “blackbirds” – which brown female blackbirds are definitely not.

We have a couple of blackcaps (Sylvia atrocapilla) in our wooded back garden most of the year – these warblers like that sort of habitat, with tall old trees and plenty of cover. Last summer I noticed their young for the first time and watched one young female grow to adulthood.


A juvenile blackcap in August 2010

Traditionally British blackcaps go to Iberia or Africa in winter, but having read everything I can find about blackcaps, I have now concluded that here in mild South Wales the blackcaps are probably resident all year round, not bothering to migrate.

And why would they? Both insects and fruit are available year round at my bird table and the latest little lady blackcap will happily sit on the block of bird suet filled with insects and eat from it.

In fact, she is getting quite proprietorial about it and even drives off the robin, which usually rules the roost.

During the breeding season blackcaps usually eat caterpillars, flies and spiders, but they may also feed on berries, especially in winter. In some Mediterranean countries they are called “fig-eaters” and sadly they are sometimes illegally trapped and eaten, as are other little songbirds.


In a good season - this is April 2008 - the blackcaps love the Mahonia berries, but this year the harsh midwinter destroyed the flowers and there is no fruit

I was going to write about (more…)

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Tree (beech?) in a field beside the red muddy Wye at Monmouth

In the dark, damp days between Christmas and New Year, once the snow had cleared enough for us to get out of the house, we went for a drive in rural Monmouthshire (my home county).

I took my camera, despite the lack of good daylight, and snapped a few odds and ends in Usk, on the grey muddy river of the same name, and at Monmouth, where the Monnow meets the red muddy Wye.


Henry V statue on Monmouth Shire Hall - he was born in Monmouth Castle on August 9, 1387 (probably) and the statue was placed on the Shire Hall in 1792


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