Sunday, 26 June 2016

Heath Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata

Another beautiful orchid, found in damp meadows especially on acid soils. The heath spotted orchid is similar in appearance to the common spotted orchid except the middle lobe of the three petals is smaller than the two either side of it. The common orchid has three lobes of roughly the same size. 

Heath Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata, Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 macro lens
Heath Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata

The heath spotted orchids lip markings are often more streak or loop like and less dot like than the common spotted orchid. 


Heath Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata, Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 macro lens
Heath Spotted Orchid - Dactylorhiza maculata

 Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 lens with tripod and cable release. 



Monday, 20 June 2016

Southern Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza praetermissa

The last few weeks have seen me out and about searching for beautiful wild British Orchids. Orchids probably first came to my attention back in 2000 - 2001 when I worked for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust on a regular basis. I visited many different reserves within the County throughout this period and observed first hand the changing seasons. One of the many marvellous things I witnessed during this time was the beautiful displays put on by the wild flower meadows found throughout Lincolnshire, the several species of orchids being amongst the stars of the show, appearing as it seemed almost over night.  

I'm  trying to focus a bit more on macro and close up photography at present for a few different reasons. The first is that nice portraits of wild flowers and insects are always in demand with magazines, book publishers and newspapers. I've done pretty well over the years selling this type of image to various outlets, (even though the money received now is far less than it used to be) so I want to expand my portfolio as much as I can. The second reason is that i'm leading some photography workshops at Whisby Nature reserve in Lincolnshire later this Summer, and I want to get a feel for what's about at certain times of the year. I'm hoping that if the courses go well, I may be able to make them a regular thing next year. The last reason, and really the most important one for me, I just love taking pictures of our beautiful flora and fauna. I truly believe that if you don't really enjoy the subject you are photographing, it will show quite clearly in your work. I've always lived near wild areas and love being surrounded by trees, meadows, streams, and all the wildlife that goes with it. There's nowhere I would rather be.     

The first orchid I've managed to photograph this year is the Southern Marsh Orchid, a lover of damp or marshy ground, and pretty common in Lincolnshire. I try to find good specimens, ones that haven't been nibbled or damaged in any way, and aim to capture the plants in as natural a state as I possibly can. I think orchids can look their best when flowers at the very top of the plant have yet to come out, leading to a nice neat, triangular tip.

Southern Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza praetermissa, Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 mm macro lens
Southern Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza praetermissa, portrait

Possibly my favourite photograph of a Southern Marsh Orchid, showing the plant virtually in full bloom, only a few flowers left to come out at the very tip of the flower head. A perfect specimen, photographed in a particularly marshy part of this Lincolnshire Wildlife reserve. 

Southern Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza praetermissa, 2, Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 mm macro lens
Southern Marsh Orchid - Dactylorhiza praetermissa

This particular plant was found in a slightly drier area of the same reserve, the flowers slightly darker in colour, again the uppermost flowers yet to bloom.

Both images were taken using a Nikon D4, Nikkor 105mm F2.8mm macro lens, tripod and cable release.


Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis

Lady's Smock or Cuckoo flower is a lovely little plant frequenting damp grassland, ditches and roadside verges. The lilac or white flowers are 1 to 2 cm across with four petals. It has a blue-green upright stem with very narrow leaves in a rosette at its base.

Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 lens
Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis  

Quite a delicate little flower, which makes photographing it quite tricky. A still day is ideal as the slightest breath of wind will get the plant swaying. A tripod, cable release and selecting mirror lock up will yield the best results and ensure a pin sharp image.

Up close, you can see just how beautiful the flower is.

Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis Nikon D4 with Nikkor 105mm F2.8 lens
Lady's Smock - Cardamine pratensis