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.

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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.

The Spring Flush Continues

Jug Orchid, Pterostylis recurva, Mount Observation, Western Australia. Canon EOS 550d, Sigma 105mm macro, I/125 sec at f8, ISO 1600 with fill flash.

My shoulder has recovered well from the recent surgery and I’ve been able to get out and about round York. The other day I took a speculative drive out looking for dancing spider orchids when I found this solitary little jug orchid. Normally not seen up in the wandoo forest and when found they are usually in largish colonies. So it was a nice little find and compensated for not finding the others.

Parts of Mount Brown, in York Western Australia, are covered in a carpet of pink everlastings ( Rhodanthe chlorocephala ssp rosea ). Panasonic Lumix LX-5. Exposure: AE priority 1/250 s at f/8.0, ISO 80 with -1 stop exposure compensation and -1 stop flash exposure compensation. Focal length the equivalent of 24mm lens on full frame

Every other day I’m walking up on Mount Brown, which is in York, with the dog and it is now covered with a carpet of flowers that are a riot of pinks and yellows. Even the weeds are looking fantastic!

Non-native yellow daisy Arctotheca calendulae. Mount Brown, York, Western Australia. Panasonic Lumix LX-5. Exposure – aperture priority 1/640 s at f/8.0, ISO 80, with -1 stop exposure compensation with fill flash with -1 stop flash exposure compensation.

Of course me on my hands and knees crawling among the flowers created a lot of amusement for Frida, my bull terrier. It took ages to clean the dog slobber from off the front element of my lens.

Frida running through a meddow of pink everlastings on Mount Brown in York, Western Australia.

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Blimey that was quick!

Spring is here and the bees are hard at work pollinating the almond trees in my garden.

It only seems like the other day I was blogging about winter coming and getting my wood supply in. Now after a very mild winter spring is breaking out all over. The fruit trees in my garden have been keeping the local bees very busy. And further afield the native terrestrial orchids are starting to bloom. I’ve never known them start quite so early, and I thought that last year was a prolific year, but this spring is looking to be even more bountiful.

A cowslip orchid being pollinated. Mokine, Western Australia.

 

Rosy-cheeked Donkey Orchid, Diuris aff. corymbosa, larger than the common donkey orchid and has reddish-brown labellum lobes hence the name.

 

A lemon scented sun orchid (Thelymitra antennifera) also known as vanilla orchid. Mokine, Western Australia.

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