Tag Archives: Featured

How to take great photos

We can’t easily get out into the countryside at the moment – so why not spend more time admiring what is around your home. We are inviting you to submit photos of your garden to our Facebook site so we can share the delights with everyone. 

Sarah Lambert

Here expert wildlife photographer and Langdyke member
Sarah Lambert gives us some handy tips on how to take better pictures without having to move out of our gardens …

 

The current restrictions on movement mean that many of us are spending a great deal more time at home or in our gardens than usual.

For photographers, this can feel very frustrating, particularly as the world is now bursting into life after a long and dreary winter.

However, most gardens provide a wealth of subject matter for the wildlife photographer and being restricted to a small area allows us to develop a more in depth understanding of the wild animals and plants that share our space – which can be the key to getting that special photograph. 

There are several advantages to garden wildlife photography – firstly it’s literally on the doorstep, and, as long as you have a camera ready, you can pop out whenever lighting or weather conditions are particularly good, though getting up at dawn may still be a struggle!

Additionally, most birds and animals that visit gardens are used to human activity, enabling you to achieve intimate shots more easily than you would on a nature reserve or in the countryside.  We can also actively attract wildlife to our gardens by providing food, potential homes or even going as far as purchasing pheromone lures for clearwing moths. 

Garden fox

 

Figure 1 Garden foxes are generally much bolder than those in the countryside

If you are one of the people who are self-isolating, spending time with your camera near an open window can yield some excellent shots.

Observing wildlife and looking out at natural spaces is known to stimulate feelings of well-being, and during extended periods of observation you’re more likely to capture an image that illustrates interesting behaviour or some beautiful light. And sitting at home is generally a lot more comfortable than sitting in a bird hide!

Or, if you’re able to go outside, and are very keen on bird or mammal photography, now might be the time to construct a hide in the garden or purchase one of the many pop-up hides that are available on the internet.

 

Figure 2 Providing food attracts a range of garden wildlife. This Nuthatch was photographed through an open window from the comfort of our sitting room.

During periods of fine weather, garden flowers attract many insect visitors, and these can provide an endless source of subject matter, particularly if your camera has a macro facility.

Before you even get the camera out it’s a good idea to just spend time quietly walking round your garden, stopping frequently to watch what’s about. Many insects seem to be constantly on the move, but if you take your time, you’ll see that there are certain areas that they return to.

Many bees have favoured pollinator plants – the best way to spot Hairy-footed Flower Bees, which are currently on the wing, is to stand by a clump of Lungwort, which is irresistible to them. Later in the year Purple Toadflax is a magnet for Wool Carder-bees.

Butterflies often have favoured sheltered basking spots, while dragonflies usually return to a selected perch between hunting trips. Time spent watching is never wasted, and will potentially reward you with some excellent macro shots.

 

Figure 3 A Wool Carder-bee stopping to sip nectar from Purple Toadflax, one of its favourite flowers

The wildflowers, mosses and fungi that inhabit your garden shouldn’t be overlooked as a photographic resource and may be easier to capture than fast-moving insects.

Take time to look for interesting angles, stunning colour contrasts or intricate patterns. Many wildflowers look best if you take them from ground level.

Now that many cameras have flip-up screens, this no longer means you have to lie on the ground, though this can be a pleasant way to spend some time in warm, dry weather.

Good lighting is particularly important for wildflower photography – I enjoy shooting against the light in early morning or late evening, to highlight the translucence of delicate flowers or the presence of interesting spines and hairs.

Detailed shots of flowers are best taken on calm days with high cloud cover, when the sky acts as a giant soft-box, eliminating any harsh shadows. 

 

Figure 4 The delicate beauty of Wall Screw-moss, a species present in nearly every garden

As well as more traditional wildlife and nature photography, why not try out some more creative approaches such as in-camera movement, multiple exposures and long exposures? Or techniques that you might not have attempted before such as stacking or photographing flowers on a lightpad?

There’s plenty of information on the internet to help you with these techniques. 

 

Figure 5 Corncockle photographed on a lightpad.

While their reserves are closed because of the current pandemic, the Langdyke Trust are running a  garden photography competition.

It’ll be very interesting to see the range of wildlife that you find, and the act of taking photographs will provide welcome diversion from the current situation. 

f you’d like to see more of my photographs have a look at https://www.blipfoto.com/mollyblobs

MARCH IN PICTURES

The signs of Spring are definitely in evidence if these pictures shot on our reserves during March are anything to go by.

They were all taken before the Government issued its Coronavirus advice to all of us to stay at home.

We’ve chosen the photo of the wild pear tree taken by Kathryn Parsons as our image of the month.

It’s probably the last time for a while that we will be focussing on pictures taken on the reserves.  We’ll be concentrating on photos of wildlife in the gardens of members for the time being.  Please start posting them – so that we can all share the delights without having to go out and put ourselves and others at risk.

Each month we select photographs taken by our members. They might not be technically perfect – but they sum up the events of that month. Here are some other images from March.

Kathryn also took this picture of our full time volunteers at work on the Etton Maxey reserve, grazing the grass and keeping the reserves in shape – having to do their work without the assistance of human volunteers for the time being.

Langdyke’s sheep at Etton Maxey. Photo: Kathryn Parsons

It is hoped that we will have the first Langdyke lambs during April, so please keep visiting the site for news of new arrivals. In line with Government advice we will be maintaining our livestock checking regime to ensure our sheep remain healthy.

An early morning walk along the Maxey Cut by Angela Trotter resulted in this great shot of a weasel, apparently on the hunt for a rabbit for breakfast.

Weasel along the Maxey Cut. Photo: Angela Trotter

This common field speedwell was captured at Swaddywell Pit by Sarah Lambert.

Common field speedwell, seen at Swaddywell. Photo: Sarah Lambert

There was plenty of birdlife on view during the month. This redshank was spotted at Etton Maxey by Steve Zealand.

Redshank, Etton Maxey. Photo: Steve Zealand

Nathan Stimpson was also at Etton Maxey to capture this shot of a Heron, a regular resident on the reserve.

Heron, Etton Maxey. Photo: Nathan Stimpson

And this greylag goose caught the eye of Steve Zealand at Etton Maxey.

Greylag goose, Etton Maxey. Photo: Steve Lonsdale

And finally the splendour of Barnack Hills and Holes was captured in this image by David Alvey.  We’ve chosen to use it as a reminder that we should all stay at home and only exercise where we can practice safe self distancing.  Keep safe!

Barnack Hills and Holes. Photo: David Alvey

 

 

 

 

 

COVID-19: Stay safe in nature!

All Langdyke events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

This is in response to the Government guidance on COVID-19. We are sorry to have had to take this decision, but we know you will understand.

This includes the annual meeting which is due to have taken place on April 23.

Langdyke chair Richard Astle said:

“In light of the Prime Minister’s new advice to stay at home, we can no longer encourage people to visit our reserves – that would seem irresponsible. We have suspended all work on our reserves. Our hides at Etton Maxey Pits are now locked.

“But we will be doing everything we can to keep you in touch with the nature you can find in your gardens over the coming days and weeks. We will also maintain – strictly in line with Government guidance – our livestock checking programme to ensure our sheep remain healthy.

“We will continue to use our Facebook page to keep each other in touch with what we see and what we hear; to ask questions about what to look out for and to ask for help with identification!

“We will shortly be launching a spring migrant project through Facebook so we can see who really did hear the first cuckoo and see the first swallow.

“Stay in touch, stay safe and enjoy the natural world around your home.

“Best wishes to you, your families and friends and to all our key workers, thank you.”

Richard

The monthly newsletters will continue as normal. We will also be publishing an annual report and sending it to you.
Please keep in touch via this website for further updates.