Fantastic Spring Show

According to those that know it has been an amazing spring here in the Avon Valley. We’ve had rainfall that hasn’t been seen for decades and we’ve had a flush of wildflowers that hasn’t been equalled for fifty years. It has been frustrating as I’ve only managed to get out and photograph the orchids three times, but when I did get out it was beyond superlatives. Here are the highlights.

 

Dark Banded Greenhood by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Pterostylis sanguinea, or , , Mount Observation, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens and Canon 430 EX Speedlite. Exposure: AE priority 1/50th sec, f16, ISO 3200 with -1 stop exposure compensation.

 

Hairy-stemmed Snail Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The Hairy-stemmed Snail Orchid (Pterostylis nana) most common and widespread of the Pterostylis species in Western Australia. Mt. Observation, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens and Canon 430EX Speedlite. Exposure: Aperture priority with -1 stop exposure compensation 1/100th sec, f8 at ISO 400.

 

Wallflower Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The wallflower orchid, aka the common donkey orchid (diuris corymbosa) lives up to it’s name and is commonly found in the south-west of Western Australia. Mount Observation, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens and Canon 430 EX Speedlite. Exposure: aperture priority mode with -5 stops exposure compensation, high-speed flash sync 1/2000, f11 at ISO 200.

 

White Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White Spider Orchid (Caladenia longicaudia). Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro and Metz ring flash. Exposure: ƒ/16.0 , 1/80s, at ISO 800, manual mode with -2 stops exposure.

 

Purple Enamel Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Easily recognisable the Purple Enamel Orchid has glossy purple flowers which fade and become pink with age. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens and Metz ring flash.

 

Dancing Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The dancing spider orchid (Caladenia discoidea) is also known as the antelope orchid and the bee orchid. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM10 with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens, & Metz ring flash. Exposure:

 

Lemon Scented Sun Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The lemon scented sun orchid, also known as the vanilla orchid,(Thelymitra antennifera) is named after its strong lemon scent. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro and Metz ring flash. Exposure: 1/160th sec, f8 ISO 200.

 

Blue China Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Recognised by its intense blue colour, the Blue China Orchid is like the Thelymitra species in that it is heat sensitive and the flowers close at night on overcast days. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens and Metz mecablitz 15 MS-1 ring flash. Exposure: manual mode, 1/100th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

Fringed Mantis Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The Fringed Mantis Orchid (Caladenia falcata) is also known as the green spider orchid. Mokine, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus m.Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens and Metz ring flash.

 

Custard Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Custard orchid (Thelymitra villas), York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/320th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

Clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.

Spooky

Jack O'Lantern
The Jack O’Lantern is a traditional feature of Halloween, it goes back to early Celtic times.

It’s getting near to that spooky time of year again – Halloween. So get you pumpkin lanterns ready.

Pure Magic
Pure Magic!! Reading Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling.

Or you could just spend the night reading something magical.

 

As usual you can click on the images to be taken to my online gallery.

 

After Midnight

Night time at the old York drive in movie theatre. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF20mm f/2.8 USM. Exposure 64.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 800.

Apologies to the late, great JJ Cale, who wrote the absolutely sublime song “After Midnight”, but I have been prowling around after dark with my camera and tripod. Every summer I do this because endless blue skies and fields of sun bleached wheat stubble do not make for very interesting photographs. Shooting at night can make the mundane look strangely beautiful and ethereal.

CBH Nocturne, York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 550D & Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS EX. Exposure; manual mode 30.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 3200.

Most of the time the images are straight, i.e. I just set the camera up on my tripod and make an exposure, like the two images above. Sometimes I like to play a little with light painting and flash to make something a little more out there.

In the wreckers yard at night. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF24mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 550EX Speedlite and Canon 430EX Speedlite . Exposure: manual mode 30.0 s at f/2.8 ISO 400.

This image and the one below used flash with gels attached and fired by a set of el cheap “Poverty Wizards” I bought off of Ebay. I keep meaning to get a couple more old manual speedlites and some more wireless receivers to achieve more complicated lighting effects, but what usually happens is that summer ends and I stop going out at night and I quickly forget about it. Maybe this year.

Toxic Waste. Something’s happening in York’s drains!!! York Western Australia. Canon EOS5d with EF20mm f/2.8 USM lens, 430EX Speedlite, and 550EX Speedlite. Exposure 251.0 s at f/5.6 ISO 400.

What makes this fun is that it is experimental, you’re never completely sure how the image is going to turn out. Also with exposures knocking around 30 to 240 seconds it is a slow process and that makes it a more thoughtful exercise as it is not just a case of blazing away and hoping. I find because it can take up to twenty minutes making test exposures and then the final image I become  thoughtful about composition. It is not unusual to have been out for a couple of hours and only make four or five images.

As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.

Bee-utiful!

Apian Activity. Canon EOS 550d, Sigma 105 f2.8 macro, Canon 430EX Speedlite with Stofen Omni-bounce off camera. Exposure 1/200 s at f/8.0 ISO

This year has been a very busy one for the bees. Despite what the calendars say is the official start of spring in reality here in the Avon Valley it arrived four weeks early this year with everything kicking off. I said in a previous post that most of the orchids were out early, well where there are flowers there are bees and the early start has kept them very busy. Not only have they been very busy feeding and pollinating flowers they have been busy swarming. I’ve never seen so many swarms. In one week I saw four flying around as I took the dog out on her morning walks. One particularly memorable formed in Avon Terrace, which is Yorks main drag, and made its way up the street causing chaos as people tried to avoid it before it settled on a TV aerial on the back of a caravan.

Bee Swarm

The swarm in the picture above was on a blind corner on the river walk trail and I nearly walked into it. As it was I got stung several times on the face. Despite the drama of the swarms I’ve had a lot of fun this spring just photographing the bees in my garden and here are some of the shots that I’ve taken.

Bee gathering pollen on an apricot blossom. Canon EOS 550d Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro with Canon 430EX speedlite fitted with a Stofen Omni-bounce on a flash bracket. Exposure 1/50 s at f/5.6 ISO 200.
Pure Nectar. A bee feeding on the nectar from a bottle brush tree. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS5d, Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens, Canon Speedlite 550EX with Stofen Omnibounce on a flash bracket.
Cleared For Landing. Canon EOS5d Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens and Canon 550EX speedlite fitted with a Stofen Omni-bounce on a flash bracket. Exposure 1/125 s at f/11.0 ISO 200.

As far as photographic technique goes it is fairly simple. I shot these using a Canon EOS550d or an EOS5d with a Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens. I mounted my flash on Custom Brackets Mini-RC with a Stofen Omni-Bounce  as diffuser, and  I connected the flash to the camera via a TTL cable and shot in aperture priority setting -1 stop exposure compensation so that the flash light is the main source as light (or key) and the ambient is the fill.  The High Speed Sync function is also selected. I then select an aperture to give me sufficient depth of field – around f8 or f11. The ISO is set to give me a shutter speed of above 1/100th sec. I don’t worry about the speed of the bees when they move as the flash  freezes the motion with its very short duration. Easy peasy. At this point I should point out that when doing this you should keep your mouth shut as you don’t want to be stung on the tongue and if the bees start getting upset you should back off a bit to allow them to settle. Also if you are allergic to bee stings might I suggest butterflies it may be safer.