Photographing Dragonflies and Damselflies in flight - some successes.

I have been trying to photograph dragonflies (and their smaller cousins, damselflies) in flight this last few weeks.
The best technique seems to be the use of manual focus on the 40-150mm Olympus lens with the 1.4x converter in place. Auto-focus is too slow and unreliable for these blighters who only tend to hover for a second at the most. It pays to accept some cropping later in order to at least get the insect in shot...

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Southern Hawker at Hidcote Gardens.

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Common Damselfly.

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Male Brown Hawker.

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Common Darter.

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Common Darter.

Farewell to The Vulcan (reprise) at The Headcorn Combined Ops Show 2015

When we watched the Vulcan make its final flight at RIAT earlier this year I thought that would be `it` even though I knew we would see her again at Sittingbourn on a fly-past. I had no idea that the old lady would perform so well and at such close quarters, providing some truly memorable views and images.

I shall start with my favorite ( a maneuver that perhaps may never be allowed by a vintage jet again)...

Farewell to an Icon
The Vulcan approaches from across the runway from BELOW the tree-line!
I have posted several other photographs on Flikr of course - just follow the link if interested.

So, truly for one last time -

Farewell to an Icon

Migrant Hawkers at Sissinghurst (National Trust) Kent.

This lovely house and gardens in Kent are well-worth a visit at any time in Spring or Summer. The gardens are extensive and a `wild` are of woodland and small lakes is accessible from the property as well.

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On this occasion it was the Migrant hawker Dragonflies that frequent the shallow `moat` that were the main attraction however..
We had a couple of hours available to wander around the lovely gardens and watch-out for the dragonflies. The humidity was thoroughly unpleasant but it was a break from the frequent rain in the midlands and just as I thought I wouldn`t see a single dragonfly where it could be photographed, I spotted no fewer that FIVE hanging from the branches of a bush at a height of about eight feet in a sheltered part of the walled garden! Far too many photographs were then taken....

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There were a few butterflies to be seen (although the anticipated White Admirals were absent) including this rather fine small copper butterfly.

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At some point in the future I shall have to produce a more detailed report of this property and others that we visit frequently in The Midlands.

When I have the time...

The Other Hobby - CGI

Well, I`ve done it now.

Put the first image into Cornucopia - using the Beginners Gallery.

I shall post images into flikr as well as they are produced.

Note that ALL models are my own - produced in Hexagon. The scenes are created in Vue 2014 when trees, textures and atmospheres (lighting/clouds/ rain etc) are added. 
Its harder than it looks and SOOOOOOO time consuming!

the other hobby - Dolgoch train at Cynfal -6-in 2014

The Eiffel Tower

Staying in Milly la Foret meant we were an easy (and relatively cheap) train journey from Paris. Indeed, the forest is a popular destination at weekends for Parisians - a fact worth bearing in mind if solitude is to be sought in the forest.

I found the walk along the river from Eiffel Tower to Notre-Dame very noisy, hot and dusty; it is not at all like walking along The Thames from, say, the Houses of Parliament. The Tower itself was well worth the effort though; it is best to walk up the steps to the second floor; it`s quicker when queues for the lifts are long and the views are magnificent. I found the photographs taken from the first floor were in many ways best as smog was an issue higher-up.

On a somewhat negative note it should be said that more than the usual care should be taken regarding pick-pockets in the crown. I kept the camera bag properly closed at all times in the queues. It is probably best NOT to buy a `gift` from the many Sudanese migrants around the Tower....

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Coypu and Butterflies etc at La Plaine de Sorques (Nature Reserve); Fontainebleau.

La Plaine de Sorques is only a few miles from Milly la Foret (our base for the week) and offers a different set of ecosystems to the forest being a more open patchwork of fields and lakes.

There are two bird-hides on the reserve and it would clearly be a great spot for bird-watching in the Winter months. During our visit it was the insects - and a Coypu that caused some excitement for us as we had never seen one (of these introduced pests of waterways) before; they have been exterminated in the UK. 

This reserve is near to Grez-sur-Loing mentioned previously.  

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A Few Days in Fontainebleau Forest; Rocks, Lizards and Dragonflies.

The 62000 acre forest surrounding Fontainebleau is an area of outstanding beauty and natural diversity. The area is characterized by parallel sandstone ridges which have eroded in places to produce characteristic sandy areas. The whole forest is criss-crossed with paths - use a map and a compass if you don't want to get lost!
The upland areas are often cracked and dotted with ponds and further erosion by water seepage has led to the crumbling of the rock strata into strange shapes that often resemble animals. These are the famous `roches` that attract climbers from around the World.

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The most impressive example that we saw  must be `The Elephant` which requires no imagination at all....
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Lizards can be seen among the rocks. searching for food and can often be approached with reasonable ease. 

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The many small ponds to be found in the forest (often near the top of ridges where rock strata trap water) are alive with reptiles and insects.
The loudest (!) is certainly the Marsh Frog as the males vie for the attention of females.
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Dragonflies provide plenty of opportunities for photography and butterflies are to be seen in the sunny clearings. (Identification of these insects can be tricky without access to suitable reference books).
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 There is no doubt that the Forest offers many opportunities for nature lovers - if only I could have got pictures of the Great Spotted, Middle Spotted, Lesser Spotted, Black and Green Woodpeckers seen there! The photographs of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker shown here were actually taken in an old orchard in Grez-sur-Long in the immediate vicinity.

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A final note: the most surprising find was this Western Green Lizard measuring over 10inches in length.

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