Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Scorpion Fly.

This was taken by an insignificant pond sited only metres from a very busy main road. I had intended to concentrate on the damselflies and dragonflies but had very little in the way of luck and besides I had terrible hay fever. Just as I was about to push off for home I came across this Scorpion Fly (Panorpa communis) and I just loved his pose which somehow reminded me of the late lamented Concorde.

The male is easily identified by the stinger like appearance of his genitalia. He attracts the female by releasing a pheromone and by offering a dead insect as a gift. If the gift is accepted the female consumes it during copulation. If it is rejected then she flies away...

As they are not particularly strong fliers I wonder if this gives the male the time to come up with a more satisfactory offering.

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Monday, 15 June 2009

Common Blue Damselfly, uncommonly beautiful.

I took this at a garden pond in Dorset UK. I believe the species is the Common Blue Damselfly, but whatever species it is, I have resolved to make more use of my macro lens and actually go out and see more of nature on my doorstep. I was walking yesterday when my father in law spotted a Common Spotted Orchid and I was annoyed that I hadn't attached my macro before leaving the house. I can see the wisdom of the old boy scout motto now, "Be prepared".

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Sunday, 3 May 2009

Grass, Sky & Post Box.

Even if I say so myself, I am pleased with this composition, although it would have been stronger if the picture read 12:10 rather than 11:50 if you know what I mean. This photo demonstrates to me why I find colour photography easier than monochrome; the photograph simply would not work in black and white.

As far as I have been able to tell this one is a Type A George V pillar box dating from sometime between 1910 and 1936. It is a nice deep red unlike a lot of those faded to pink pillar boxes that are far too common these days. It looks as if it could do with a touch of paint around the base all the same.

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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Rocket Scientist-Giottos Air Rocket Blower.

The Giottos Rocket Air Blower is great. I have had it for a couple of weeks now and it is a great little piece of kit. It delivers a very strong yet controllable, blast of air exactly where you want it thanks to the two inch long nozzle/nose-cone. Reassuringly, nothing flies out of the nozzle other than air, no aerosol accelerant or bits of old rubber for that matter. It also looks incredibly funky on my desk where I use it to blast the dust off of my keyboard!

In the end the blower dislodged all but one speck of dust from the sensor leaving me more than happy with the miniscule £10.00 investmment. My advice to anyone out there would be to get your sensor professionally cleaned (once) and then use your blower every couple of weeks to prevent dust becoming a problem. At about £30.00 for a proper clean I think that it would be a false economy forking out any more money to buy one of the many cleaning kits on the market. I have had my camera about three years and taken thousands of photos and would far prefer to put my spare cash towards a new lens or flash rather than a cleaning system that only comes out every two years. At one point I considered getting a sensorcleaning

In short I wish that I had emploted a blower right from the start rather than fretting about the sensors fragility. I am sure if I had done that, the one anoyingly "welded" dust mote might never have stuck!


Monday, 27 April 2009

When your dreams turn to Dust...Blow!

“Dusting is a good example of the futility of trying to put things right. As soon as you dust, the fact of your next dusting has already been established.” George Carlin.

It had to happen. It was inevitable. Dust. On my sensor. After all the loving care and excessive precautions taken I have started to notice dust on my photos. All the breast beating and "why me's?" weren't going to get me out of this one.

In truth the dust was probably always there, but because I am now stopping down the Sigma a lot more than I do my other lenses, dust is now an issue for me. For a while I was really worried about this and thought that I had better invest in one of the ridiculously expensive sensor cleaning solutions out there. Cash strapped as I am I thought surely there must be another way.

Suddenly I realised that dust was in fact a far bigger problem when I used to process and print my own negatives. In fact it was my constant, irksome companion, until I went digital dust would stick like glue to my negatives and enlarger or attracted moth-like to a flame every time I got my slides & projector or film scanner out. Just look at this photo-not a great picture but a good example of dust drama. Incidentally the camera used was a 1950's Voigtlander Perkeo II-a great camera in the right hands.

Consequently I have opted to take a more reasoned approach and invested in a Giotto's Rocket Air Blower: Under a tenner delivered from Amazon. Read my review coming soon...

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Thursday, 16 April 2009

A visit to Lanhydrock House, Cornwall.

Sorry for being away a while longer than anticipated. I have been testing the lens again and am happy to report that I am finally satisfied with it. After a trip to Lanhydrock House in Cornwall things finally seemed to fall into place and I am now getting sharp pictures. The 350D is locking up intermittently and the sensor needs cleaning but I that is a different problem! I was particularly pleased with these beautiful Tulips.

Over Easter I was busy renovating some old sash windows and waiting for the guy to turn up and fix my fireplace but the weather was so good I didn't allow myself to become despondent.


Thursday, 9 April 2009

New Lens Latest and Fireplace Shock and Awe!

I have been using the replacement Sigma 10-20mm F.4-5.6 for about ten days now and I have to say that while the de-centering problems present on the Mk 1 appear to be entirely absent from this copy, the lens is still not as sharp as I’d like. It may be a case of Emperor’s new clothing but I am constantly having to inspect each image for flaws and am not often disappointed unfortunately. I have got the rest of this weekend to put it through it’s paces and if there is no improvement then back it will go.

Here is one photo I was pleased with, though tellingly it was taken at the 20mm end of the len’s zoom range.

Lately we have been enjoying the warmth of a real coal fire mmmm....
Unfortunately, the other night it popped off the wall for no apparent reason cracking the slate hearth in the process. Thank God it wasn't lit! Consequently, we were left with this less than charming vista, but have been assured that the problem will be rectified leaving no need for re-decoration.

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