I live in a camper van with a West Highland Terrier for company.
My passion is creating images but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN

Sunday 31 May 2015

WET AND DRY. (31/05/15)

I bet you are wondering what this bit of High Tech equipment is. It's a bucket on a stick I have been thinking about having a look at the insects in the pond but they are the devil to catch as they swim out of range when they see me. This has solved the problem.

I caught this Common Pondskater. Gerris lacustis. I never knew they had wings but from these pictures it looks as if they do. This is the set up.
Two strobes and a reflector seems to work best but it doesn't work very well. I could do with using a polariser but then the light would have to be from one side only and I can't see to focus. I think I'll have to set the camera up on a tripod, focus without the polariser then pop it on and hope I can see enough in EOS Utility to fire the camera and strobes when something swims into frame. 

I always trigger off camera strobes with Pocket Wizard triggers. These are their Flex TT5 system and I got them for about a quarter of new price. I suspect people buy them and then can't use them. It took me about a day to sort them. I had to log in to Pocket Wizard Utility and plug each unit into the computer and their software sorts them out. I switch them on from the top down. Strobe first, then the PW slave then when they are on do the master unit and the camera. I switch off in the reverse order. I was working with a chap who was also using them and he gave me this tip. The other thing to watch for is other photographers using them within a few hundred metres. There are three channels to choose from and the buttons are really fiddly. Just decide between you who is using which channel or you will be flashing by accident. If you have them don't give up, they work like a dream once you have torn your hair out and hit them with something big and heavy. The little gizmo right at the top on the camera is an extra and allows you to adjust up to three strobes manually. I tend to go with ETTL unless it looks really bad.
Now in my bucket I have one or two more little creatures, there is a little transparent thing that hangs vertically just under the surface and seems to move by waggling little hairs about and a black spider that swims back and forth. Lots of other things but I suspect they are going to be too small.
This is from yesterday and was sitting on it's web in the bracken. I just got the one shot and can't identify it.
There were several of these eating bird crap on a galvanised gate. I spent ages mucking around and really like this one lit from below. The only problem I have is that the zinc is showing colour fringing or chromatic aberration of some sort. It almost looks like luminance noise but I'll work on it a bit more. 
Have a great week and an even better month.

Saturday 30 May 2015

BRAIN FOOD. (30/05/15)

This is a cunning little stunt to increase the hits on my long suffering Blog. This is a bar of chocolate I made to cheer myself up last night. It is modelled on an Aldi chocolate bar. Cheap but much better than Cadbury's and almost as good as Green & Black's. I was actually looking at the new Pie camera shake improver in Blender 2.74 compositor; 2.74 came out as a stable release at the end of March but I only noticed earlier on in the week. I ran a bit of my video through it and it's pretty good. You zoom in and pop a little square round a bit that is moving when it should be still then after a bit of button pressing you get a graph which shows movement. Another press of a key and the graph straightens out and the video is stable. I couldn't really tell but I think it could be useful if you were stacking video layers.
 I then decided to keep playing and the GIF above is what transpired. I find GIFs intensely annoying so this one will only run five times then stop, hopefully encouraging you to pop back for another peek. Amazingly it stops at the end and not at the beginning which would be a bit silly. I'm sorry about the moire patterns in the background. I used the world as a reflector for light and should have remembered that is what happens. I ought to have used a pale yellow emitter instead. Also the chocolate squirts out of the frame. I never noticed, should have either moved the camera back or increased the lens angle also the letters slide back as they are generated this is because the chocolate flow is controlled by a posh Bezier curve except mine must have a straight bit at the beginning. I enjoy this virtual photography malarkey. I have also made Chocolate the Movie for those of you with the attention span of a gnat. I could premier it tomorrow.
All the trees are in full foliage now which makes my chances of a red squirrel shot absolutely zero. Red squirrels, Goshawks, Jays, Cuckoos they all fall into the near impossible category. I have been bugging this morning and failed to find anything stunning. I'll pop out again in a while.

Friday 29 May 2015

GREEN. (29/05/15)

If Microsoft don't do something about sorting the communication issue with Blogger I'm going to go even madder than I am. I thought Google had promised to sort the matter but they backtracked pretty fast and decided it was a Microsoft problem. The fact that Google broke it seems to have passed them by. I have formatting turned off but despite the above image being 1500x1000px when I switch to HTML and pop it in at 900x600px, 900 being the width of my template body, the image comes out all degraded. Bloody thick Adrian or useless editor. I'll give it a week and then if I haven't sorted some sort of system then I'll give Wordpress a go.
Everything has turned beautifully green as you can see from the above thumbnail.
Most things have turned green, this laurel seems to have missed the boat. The blooms are great but they don't attract many insects.
My enthusiasm and ineptitude for bugging is showing no sign of diminishing. I found this little cracker this morning.

It's a female Soldier Beetle; Cantharis fusca. She, if a she she be, was a really good model but didn't like to show her face. I have popped her in a tub with some leaves she likes eating and will have another session as and when I get this damn post posted.

This little whatever was a real pain. It is standing on the pot lid and then the bit of card I use for moving them about. It spent ten minutes dashing about but didn't mind it's face being captured. It isn't very big but it has distinctive markings. I can't identify it or even get close but I'll have another go later. Had another go and she is a female Sawfly. Pachyprotasis rapae.
All images will enlarge with a click
Have a great weekend.
Sorry about that, I've just deleted a batch of comments and replies. I hit the wrong button. I have also enabled moderation as that bloody Sophia and her mate Ada are spamming old posts as well now. It's not been a good week on blogger.

Thursday 28 May 2015

NO 'SECTS. (28/05/15)

No insects after this one, for today anyway.                                                         
This is a Daddy long legs spider; Pholcus phalangioides. I had the devil of a job with it the other day. It even managed to climb over the ring flash and wander up the lens. I don't know what it's found to eat here it looks like a tiny aphid.
We had a grand walk through the woods first thing this morning but I missed anything of real interest like Red Squirrels. The dogs are way ahead of me.

Welsh Poppy brightening the morning. 

A bit of gorse maintaining the yellow theme. 

Nearly home and yet more gorse in the distance.

I sat outside for breakfast for the first time this year it's a beautiful morning and then it was time to head into town for weekend food. 

A few views of Auchtermuchty. I'm here for another month as the owners have gone touring Eastern Europe. It's not an arduous job. I'll measure the barley to make sure it's growing, lock the hens up at night, let them out in the morning and round them up as and when they escape. The best bit is taking money from fellow campers.
I bloody detest composing online with Google's sad excuse for a WYSIWYG compiler. Few features and a right pain in the arse to use. I'll see if I can get WLW working again.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Wednesday 27 May 2015

BRAIN FADE. (27/05/15)

This insecting job is harder than it looks. I have to take two dogs, a big plastic tub, several small tubs to put things in and a camera; I now have a shopping bag to keep all but the dogs in. Yesterday I had a bit of an upset, I only collect about four insects a day as the time spent trying to identify them doesn’t allow for more. Yesterday I was after planthoppers, I  sweep the big plastic tub through the ground cover and it usually comes up with a couple of Delphacidae, that's the buggers posh name for planthopper. Also in the box are numerous midge size flies and the occasional spider. I must have left a spider in with one of the planthoppers as when I got round to getting a picture there was very little left of it. It was a pretty one with orange and black stripes. I’ll have to be more careful.
Today is overcast and cold but the hawthorn is starting to bloom.
Hawthorn leaves and blossom.

This is a member of the Delphacidae family. I thought after much searching that it was Conomelus anceps but have now decided it is a female Eurysa lineata. It’s also brackypterous which is bugger speak for short winged. Long winged are called macropterous.

I think this is a male Javesella possibly Javesella forcipata. The things that look like pincers on it’s bum are, amazingly, it’s wedding tackle. I have a system for photographing these as they can hop a surprisingly long way. I have a big tupperware box and pop a piece of paper in the bottom I can then snap away without them escaping. I lost this one but found it sitting on the front element of the lens. To move these about I use a tiny bit of thick paper and most are good and crawl onto it. I am wary of touching them in case bits fall off. Some, like plant bugs, can bite but they can’t do any damage.
This morning was a bit miserable but I cheered up when I found this little cracker.

I can’t identify it yet but it is really stunning. Just have it's a Tiger Crane Fly; Nephrotoma flavescens. Maybe I haven't as it has spotted wings.  

It was reasonably cooperative, it strolled about and flew a bit then flew away but landed on Molly. I have caught it again and will see if a bit of honey will keep it occupied whilst I try and get enough shots of it’s head for a stack. It looks as if it’s mouth is for sucking up sap or something. It doesn't bite as it is happy sitting on my hand. I think I've cracked it now. It's a Scorpion Fly; Panorpa communis. It's like setting my own quiz is this job. No it doesn't like honey it's flown out of the window.

Have fun I will as Blogger isn't talking to Windows so I can't compose in LiveWriter. I hate using this damn desktop compiler.
All Images will enlarge with a click.

Tuesday 26 May 2015


I have eventually managed a reasonable shot at 5x magnification on something alive and moving. It does move slowly but it’s a start. I have had to tape a couple of pieces of aluminium bun case onto the flash to reflect some light into the job. The problem is I only have about 8mm to play with. I’ll rephrase that………..I only have 8mm clearance between the ring flash and the subject. I have been looking at THE VENUS OPTICS KX 800. I can’t find a review of it and at the price I suspect it won’t be the most robust of flashers.
I’ll get on with the post as I have a lot on today.
_V0G8608      Red Campion.
_V0G8609     If this isn’t Red Campion then the tiny black aphids aren’t Brachycaudus lychnidus. It wouldn’t be the end of the world but it is nice to identify something correctly now and again. Aphids are very difficult as they vary in size and some have wings and some don’t.


_V0G8587     They are active little things as these images were taken in less than a minute._V0G8614    A shy one.
_V0G8590     One taken on a plastic lid. My solution for a light box.
Now I have a challenge for the rest of today. I have some Spring-Tails in a box. I will have to try and think of a way of containing them as the last one sprang into my cup of coffee. It is not noticeably detrimental to the drink and it does stop them hopping but I suspect real buggers would not be impressed with the pictures.

Monday 25 May 2015

RECYCLING. (25/05/15)

It isn’t nice today. We have a cool northerly wind again and it’s overcast.I was just back in from our walk and had decided on a porridge day when there was a thump on the side of the van. I went out to investigate and found a Greenfinch fluttering around on the ground. I picked it up as sometimes after a rest in a box they come round and are fine. This one had a broken neck so was an ex-finch. I had my breakfast and decided to immortalise the poor mite I propped it up in a ramekin dish as best I could but it’s head was flopping this way and that. Impossible to get a realistic set of images for focus stacking but I did my best.

2015-05-25-10.14.30 ZS retouched                  A seeds eye view at 1:1. The bit to the left of it’s beak had a horrendous glowing artefact. I tried to retouch it but not very successfully. This is a stack of 79 images taken with EOS Utility, stacked in Zerene using P.Max and given a bit of a shove in Photoshop.

2015-05-25-10.24.39 ZS retouched             Again 1:1.This one worked better but the processing was pretty similar a 44 image stack and this one had a bit of a crop. The scale was popped on before the crop so should be okay. Lens is the Canon 100mm macro and aperture is f9.

That’s all for today.

Sunday 24 May 2015

LOW TECH. BUGERY. (24/05/15)

I’m only finding tiny insects but have a new method of catching them. I sweep a plastic food tub through the grass and have a look what’s in it. Brilliant saves a great deal of crawling about and it works on windy days. It doesn’t work quite so well in damp vegetation as I have to transfer the insects into a dry pot before they drown. When I get them back I transfer them to a stone in a plate of water. This keeps most of them penned in while I take a picture._MG_3604   I have several flatish stones of different hues so that I can show the insect off better. It’s not very large but it doesn’t have to be as neither are the subjects.

_MG_3603      This is a Green Orb-weaver. I usually add a bit of leaf as the spiders seem to settle better with some vegetation. They usually settle bum towards the camera but if I rotate the plate slowly I can get a head on view.

_V0G8428      It’s heading in the right direction.

_V0G8429       Getting closer.

_V0G8436      Here it is on a bit of dandelion leaf.

I have also had trouble remembering what magnification things were taken at. I have had the Canon 1Ds III for over two years and have only just realised that I can just say 2x, 3x, whatever and it produces a WAV file attached to the image. That should save a lot of pondering.


_V0G8457     I can’t identify this one, I suspect it is a Sheet Web Spider. I spend ages looking through the gallery on the British Arachnological Society's web site but rarely find the spider I have photographed. Again thanks to TREVOR it is a Small hanky-weaver. Microlinyphia pusilla._V0G8451  This is a real stunner. The water didn’t bother it a jot. Dived straight off the stone and swam to the edge of the plate. I just managed this shot before I had to catch it and pop it back outside. I am reasonably confident that it is Tachyporous solutus.

_V0G8444      This is another Rove Beetle but I can’t ID it. It knows what it is and was polite enough to raise a leg to tell me. Fat lot of use that was.

_V0G8450       I think this is one of the Leaf Beetles but I can’t decide which one.It is a wonderful bronze colour though the strobes ruined the colour and I couldn’t pull it back.

That’s all for today. Have a good week.