Monday, 16 September 2013
Sunday, 15 September 2013
Before my daughter finished saying 'spider!' I got the little beast running across the kitchen floor into a little plastic pot. For this, I save any little plastic pot I come across. You know the onion salad pot from an indian takeaway? ideal! To hold the bug for a few minutes the pot does not even need to have holes on the top. I also have a 'proper' bug viewing pot (like the one featured in the photos below). My bug pots are always available on the side of the kitchen and I always carry one in my bag.
The second piece of equipment is the bowl. A flat-bottomed white bowl, like those used for soup, is ideal, as its sides help reflect the light. Better if there is a smooth transition from the bottom to the sides, as it will reduce undesirable reflections.
I take the bug pot and bowl to the conservatory (or outside, weather permitting), as I like as much natural light as possible.
Flash on to +1Then I set the focal point to the top left hand side of the visual field (nearer to the flash itself), instead of the central position. This ensures the animal is not in the shade of the objective. If I didn't do this, once I cropped the photo, the bottom right corner would be grey, not white, as it would be shaded by the objective. You can simulate this on a cameral without this setting by focusing in the middle point and then moving the camera trying not to lose the focus so that the animal is located in the top left hand side of the visual field.
Today, I experimented by holding the camera vertical, so that the flash light came exactly in front of the spider.
Set the camera to macro, and fire away. I usually take lots of photos, as I want to get the focus right on the animal's eyes and I try also several angles, which are often useful for ID purposes.
I download the photos in the computer and do some basic processing. Crop the white/grey space out, adjust the levels so that the white background is actually white, remove specks of dust or dirt and sharpen a little. That's it!
White level adjustmentThis one is my favourite of the session today. Although the white background is not perfect, as it is greyer on the right hand side, I like the spooky effect of the spider leg shadows.
Monday, 9 September 2013
Sunday, 8 September 2013
I took this photo from inside the house.After mating for about 15 minutes, the male left (13:20). We could then had a closer look at the female. Eggs were visible through her thin abdominal skin. She looks velvety and heavy.
There are several British species of a few moth families showing this pattern of female flightlessness, amongst them the Winter Moth. The limited mobility of the females is compensated by the highly dispersive larvae, which might be able to balloon when little. In the UK adults are found from July to September.
On this photo you can see the vestigial wing: just a small hairy flap (the head is down and the abdominal tip up, egg laying).
At 16:41 she had pretty much finished laying.I searched around for more cocoons nearby and found one under a wooden shelf by a large cotoneaster, about 2 m away from the first one. It looked very fresh and translucent, and still contained a caterpillar.
The large oval cocoon and large caterpillar inside points to another female will emerge from this one too.