OPHRYS PHOTOGRAPHY

Wildlife photography by John Devries - High-quality images from the natural world


Image(s) of the month 2012
(All images copyright © Ophrys Photography)


Archives :


December - Fox

Fox running

Love 'em or hate 'em there is no denying that the fox is a beautiful animal. This one is runnng through wet grasss - look carefully and you can see the water droplets. Photographed in Devon.

- First image taken with Canon 1DmkIV plus 70-200 mkII f2.8 L IS lens at 175mm. 1/1000sec at f6.3, handheld.





November - Red deer stags



Red deer stags calling

Every year in Autumn I can't resist visiting the red deer again to witness the rutting season where the male stags battle for mating rights with the smaller hornless females. The stags announce their presence with loud bellowing roars which sound like they have terrible stomach ache.

- First image taken with Canon 5DmkIII plus 300mm f2.8L IS lens. 1/800th sec f6.3 ISO 400 +2/3 ev exposure compensation, handheld.

Second image - same but 1/640sec at f5.6 + 1/3 ev exposure compensation




October - Harvest mouse

Harvest mouse in corn

I have been wanting to photograph harvet mice for a long time but they are becoming very scarce and difficult to find due to modern intensive farming methods. This mouse was photographed in Devon.

- Image taken with Canon 1DmkIV plus 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens 1/800th sec f8 ISO 800 +2/3 exposure compensation plus diffused fill flash .

Harvest mice

The harvet mice are smaller than I expected and acore very highly on the the cuteness scale. I love the fact that they have a prehensile tail that can be used to hang onto the wheat stems. They are pretty gregarious and I was pleased to get all these mice looking in the same direction.

- Image taken with Canon 1DmkIV plus 100mm f2.8L IS macro lens 1/320th sec f8 ISO 800 plus diffused fill flash .

 


September - Brown bears in Alaska

Kodiak bear

This was my first encounter with a brown bear in Alaska. Bears on Kodiak island can grow to the largest size of any bears in America due to their protein-rich diet and geographical isolation. This bear was chasing salmon and showed an impressive display of claws as it splashed through the water. I was instructed to sit very still on the riverbank at water level and the bear passed within a few of me as it hunted for fish totally indifferent to my presence.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV and 500mm f4 L IS lens, 1/2000 sec f5.6 ISO 800 and clean pair of trousers!


Coastal brown bear in early morning light

This is a coastal brown bear in the Katmai National Park. When found further inland these bears are often called grizzlies (due to their grizzled fur) but they are all one species of brown bear which show geographical adaptations.

- Image taken with Canon 1DmkIV and 500mm f4 L IS lens, 1/250th sec f7.1 ISO 800


Coastal brown bear chasing salmon

Another coastal brown bear, splashing through the shallows after spawning salmon.

- Image taken with Canon 1DmkIV and 500mm f4 L IS lens, 1/200th sec f4 ISO 800 +1/3 exposure compensation. Taken in low light.

Coastal brown bear with salmon

A bear that has caught a pink salmon in a waterfall as the fish tried to fight upstream to spawn.

- Image taken with Canon 5DmkIII and 400mm f5.6 L IS lens, 1/800th sec f5.6 ISO 800.




August - Butterflies


Dark green fritillary

I tried to get some shots of dark green fritillaries in Kent lsat month, but it wa so windy my results were disappointing. However a trip to Derbyshire in mid July gave me a second chance in much better conditions. This beautiful specimen posed on a leaf for me while I carefully held a branch out of the way so I could get on to it.

Canon 5D mkIII plus 100mm f2.8 L IS lens, handheld, 1/320sec, f11, ISO 1600, no exposure compensation.



Large heath

The large heath is a scarce butterfly that I have only seen once before in Shropshire. I returned to the same site this month and after a lot of searching I found this beauty which perched under a fern frond for a few moments. The site is a peat bog and we were attacked by ferocious mosquitos while searching for our quarry.

Canon 5D mkIII plus 100mm f2.8 L IS lens, handheld, 1/200sec f11, ISO 400, no exposure compensation, MT24ex twinflash fitted with diffusers. AI servo.





Silver-studded blue

This is a very pretty little butterfly that may be distinguished from the common blue by the silver studs on the underside of the rear wings. They are actually blue if you look carefully though. This male was photographed in Shropshire in the last remaining sanctury for this butterfly in the midlands.

Canon 5D mkIII plus 100mm f2.8 L IS lens, handheld, 1/200sec f11, ISO 400, no exposure compensation, MT24ex twinflash fitted with diffusers. AI servo.





July - Rare orchids

Monkey orchids

I took some shots of these rare monkey orchids "conventionally" using a 100mm macro lens but found the results a bit boring as the background was a bit messy. I returned to the site the next day armed with a 300mm f2.8L IS lens and a 25mm extension tube and took this shot that I find far more satisfying. The full frame camera and long lens minimises depth of field and gives a more artistic and etherial look.

Canon 5D mkII plus 300mm f2.8 L IS lens plus 25mm extension tubes, 1/400th sec at f8 , ISO 400, no exposure compensation. Tripod, cable release, liveview, manual focus at 10x.


Monkey orchid flowering spike

I used the same technique on this flowering spike but added a second extension tube that allowed me to focus even closer and get higher magnification out of my telephoto lens.

Canon 5D mkII plus 300mm f2.8 L IS lens plus two 25mm extension tubes, 1/160th sec at f7.1, ISO 200, no exposure compensation. Tripod, cable release, liveview, manual focus at 10x.





Bee orchid var belgarum

The bee orchid (ophrys apifera) is a beautiful orchid and although not particularly scarce it is always nice to find. However, there are several recognised variants of it and this one - var belgarum, was first found near Winchester, hence the name. It is rare but I have now found it in a couple of other locations and this one was photographed near Eynsford in Kent - a long way from Winchester.

Canon 5D mkII plus 100mm f2.8 L IS lens 1/160th sec at f14, ISO 640, -1/3 stop exposure compensation. Tripod, cable release, liveview, manual focus at 10x.


Bee orchid normal form

This is the normal form of the bee orchid (ophrys apifera) by way of comparison to var belgarum. This plant was growing on chalk near Maidstone in Kent. I "created" a long lens by combining a 180 macro with a 1.4x converter to give 252mm. This is actually a very useful pairing as it will focus close with no need for an extension tube and blurs the background nicely.

Canon 5D mkII plus 180mm f3.5 L macro lens plus 1.4x mkIII converter, 1/160th sec at f14, ISO 400, no exposure compensation. Tripod, cable release, liveview, manual focus at 10x, reflector to fill in shadows.





June - Avocets, black-tailed godwit and pheasant in a flap

Avocets mating

I made a visit to the island of Texel in the Netherlands to photograph birds and I had heard that avocets were very accommodating there. I was delighted to find that the birds virtually ignored me and carried on mating, fighting, tending eggs as though I wasn't there.

Canon 1D mkIV plus 500mm f4 lens plus 1.4 converter, 1/2500 sec f7.1 -1/3 exposure compensation ISO 400. Tripod.




Black- tailed godwit in buttercups

Whenever I find godwits in the UK they are usually on mudflats a long way off. In Texel they seemed less shy and liked rooting around in fields of buttercups which were far more photogenic.

Canon 1D mkIV plus 500mm f4 lens plus 1.4 converter, 1/2500 sec f5.6 +2/3 exposure compensation ISO 400. Tripod.


Pheasant in a flap

Male pheasants in spring advertise their presence to females by doing a sudden flap of the wings accompanied by a loud claxon-like sound. It happens very unpredictably and this is the first time I have managed to capture it on camera.

Canon 1D mkIV plus 400mm f5.6L 4 lens, 1/1000 sec f5.6 +11/3 exposure compensation ISO 640, handheld.




May - Praying hare

I have been returning to the same spot repeatedly to photograph hares in the hope of getting a pair "boxing". I have not succeded in this activity yet but have captured all sorts of other behaviour in the meantime. This hare had been asleep and woke up to wash before going off to feed. I couldn't help thinking that it looked as though it was praying .

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 500mm f4 lens , 1/800 sec f4.5 +2/3 exposure compensation ISO 400. Beanbag from car.




April - Aurora borealis





Something a little different this month. Not wildlife for a change but a fantastic natural phenomenon - the Aurora borealis or Northern lights.Both pictures were taken in Iceland with long exposures and the foreground lightened a little by "painting light on" with a torch.

- First image taken with Canon 5D mkII plus 24mm f2.8 lens. 30 sec exposure F2.8, ISO 400 , Manual focus, tripod. Second image the same but ISO 800 as the aurora was weaker.



March - Red kites








Red kites in Wales

Red kites are numerous around Rhayader in Powys, mid Wales. Gigrin farm is well known for the feeding station where it is possible to see the amazing spectacle of up to 500 red kites plus a few buzzards and ravens which come to feed on meat that is put out daily at 2pm. They tend not to land but provide a great opportunity to practice flight shots.

- Images taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 500mm f4L IS lens and Wimberley gimbal head on Gitzo tripod. Exposure was very tricky as the light and background tone constantly changes. Best results were obtained by setting the camera to manual exposure and dialing in a reading taken from a midtone in the background. Typical exposure settings used - Shutterspeed 1/1250-1/1600 sec , aperture F4- 5.6 , ISO 800, 1/1600 depending on whether the sun was behind a cloud or not. I also used the 300mm f2.8 lens handheld on occasion.

 



February - Sparrowhawk and black squirrels
Sparrowhawk male

Male sparrowhawk from my garden hide

Although I have seen sparrowhawks on several occasions from my garden hide, I have only managed to grab the occasional hurried picture of one before it flies off. This beautiful male stayed for a few minutes and even preened itself before resuming to hunt small birds.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 500mm f4L IS lens. 1/1600 sec F5.6, ISO 400 , no exposure compensation. Wimberley tripod bolted to shelf in garden hide.

Sparrowhawk male back

Male sparrowhawk on perch

This is another view of the sparrowhawk. Its presence is a mixed blessing as it has been attracted to the small birds which are feeding on my bird feeders. Once the hawk appears the tits, finches and blackbirds mob it, giving out distinctive alarm calls. Once the hawk has visited there are no other birds to photograph for at least half an hour.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 500mm f4L IS lens. 1/800 sec F6.3, ISO 400 , no exposure compensation. Wimberley head bolted to shelf in hide.


Black squirrel

This is a melanic form of the grey squirrel. In parts of Hertfordshire such as Letchworth and Hitchin these are becoming more numerous than the normal greys. The blacks are said to have more testosterone than the greys and are more aggressive. The two blacks that I located certainly spent a lot of time chasing the greys around the trees.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 300mm f2.8L IS lens. 1/320 sec at F3.2, ISO 1000 , no exposure compensation. Fill flash set to underexpose by 1.7 stops with flash extender, Handheld.





January -
Brown bears and wolves
Brown bear at den

Brown bear

Last November I visited a national park in Bavaria with Chris Weston. We had great opportunities to photograph brown bear, lynx and European wolf. The first bear above is not a frame-filler but a nice natural shot with the bear sleeping in the mouth of its den. What Andy Rouse would call a "living landscape". I enjoy taking these kind of shots but they are difficult to portray in the limited space available on a website. It would make a great canvas though.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 70-200f2.8 L IS mkII lens,. 1/125 sec f4, ISO 2000 , -2/3 exposure compensation. Tripod.


Brown bear sleeping

Brown bear in deep contemplation (or maybe just nodding off to sleep)

The next picture is a more conventional "Image of the month" kind of shot with a close up of another brown bear. I love the way that the bear is showing the pads of its feet in this image as it dozed on this mossy rock.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 70-200 f2.8L IS mkII lens. 1/125 sec F4,
ISO 2000 , -2/3 exposure compensation. Tripod.



Wolf running

The wolf and the crow

The wolves were in beautiful condition and their coats matched the fallen beech leaves perfectly. I thought that the crow on the ground added a litle something to the shot.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 300mm f2.8L IS lens. 1/1250 sec F4, ISO 800 , no exposure compensation. Handheld.


Wolf running in beech wood

Wolf in motion

I included this second image as I don't often do motion blur or panned shots. This was the only shot in the series that I was actually satisfied with. I intentionally dialled in a low ISO and middling aperture to achieve shutterspeeds around the 1/20 - 1/125 sec range. This image was shot at 1/60th sec and when combined with a smooth pan focussed on the wolf's head, achieved what I was after - which was an in-focus head with a nice bit of motion blur for the everything else which gives a sense of movement. Technically this all proved to be quite difficult to achieve.

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 300mm f2.8L IS lens. 1/60 sec F8, ISO 200 , no exposure compensation. Handheld.


Wolf snarling

Wolf snarl

I couldn't resist putting in just one more wolf shot as he is looking decidedly "wolfy" - just in case you thought I had been taking pics of German Shepherds down the local park !

- Image taken with Canon 1D mkIV plus 300mm f2.8L IS lens plus 2x extender (600mm). 1/400 sec F5.6, ISO 640 , no exposure compensation, tripod.





 


 

 

© Copyright Ophrys Photography 2012