GARDEN 28 – A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE

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I’ve been lucky enough to have had many wonderful experiences with the inhabitants of the natural world, and another exploded upon me this afternoon – in my back garden!  Having eaten a little too much lunch, I shouldered the D700 and wandered down into the unkempt jungle that, until I do something about it, is, well, the back garden.

Although I’ve cut a lot of vegetation back, the Hazel and the Lower Oak throw up such a screen that the bottom of the garden isn’t very visible until you get right on down there.  So, I brushed through the tree’s screen and, there in front of me, the Buddleia that I’d also hacked had brought forth many blossoms and, feeding on these, were more Peacock butterflies than I can remember seeing together in one place- there were at least 10 of them in a small space, and the combination of the blooms and the butterflies in the bright sunlight was simply wonderful.

I’d like to have used the 105mm macro but the butterflies were just a bit too far away, so I got up close and personal again with my lover – the 70-300 – and we went at it together.  Put simply, I love butterflies, they have a magic for me, and I’m a sucker most of all for the big ones – these Peacocks, and the Red Admirals, Painted Ladies, the two Whites, the Commas and the Tortoiseshells that are still relatively common in the garden – tho nothing like so common as they were in my childhood, in the 1950s.

I own a simply beautiful book – The Butterflies of Britain & Ireland, by Jeremy Thomas and Richard Lewington (ISBN 0-86318-591-6) – that contains wonderfully beautiful, life-sized paintings together with a wealth of fascinating detail.  This is a favourite book.  If I had to choose just five of my many books to keep, this would certainly be in the five.  If you love natural things, I recommend it unreservedly – my edition is 1991 – I don’t know if its still in print.

And this tells me that the main emergence of new Peacocks occurs in late July – and here we are!

So, some pictures.  Not portraits, but here are the wonderful creatures.  And the last one shows a male Gatekeeper, which was pasturing along the hedge below the towering Ash that I posted a pic of recently.  All Nikon D700 with the 70-300, mainly at 300mm; 400 or 800 ISO.

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22 comments

    • Thanks, Christina, glad you like the post! I’m regularly looking for good images on Freshly Pressed – and after I’ve Liked any image, it appears in the panel low down on this blog’s sidebar, ie lower right on every post, until displaced by more recently Liked images appearing above it. Thanks again. Adrian

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    • Thanks chrisstov, glad they get to you! If butterflies are at all skittish, the best plan is to stand back with a telephoto, so as not to disturb them – not just your presence, but also your shadow, will get to them.

      For the shots here, I used a combination of a single autofocus point, continuously applied, and either spot or centre-weighted exposure metering – the spot metering was linked to the single active autofocus point. Hope that’s helpful.

      From years ago, I seem to remember that butterflies are less active earlier in the day – but not all rest with their wings open I think. In the cold and dour days of autumn, I’ve even had one – a Red Admiral – crawl up onto my hand, for warmth. Adrian

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  1. Lovely photos Adrian. I think Peacocks may well be my favourite butterflies, definitely one of the most colourful that we see around here. I also find that my 70-300 Olympus ZD is a great lens for butterflies. With the 4/3 sensor, this is of course equivalent to a 600mm focal length and I don’t frighten them away too easily. Needs good light though.

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    • Glad you like them, Dave, thanks! Yes, 600mm is serious stuff – needs good light and a steady hand, although I imagine your camera or lens has stabilisation. There’s also the question of depth of field, but as smaller sensors have greater DOF, maybe this is compensated for. Thanks again! Adrian

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  2. Adrian, these are brilliant. I really enjoy the photos and the 70 – 300 seems to work pretty good. (I’m thinking about getting one for my D600) 😉

    Jimi

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    • Hi Jimmy! Thank you for your kind words, much appreciated!

      The 70-300 is by far my favourite lens, large numbers of this blog’s photos were taken with it. I often seem to “see” at x6 magnification, ie 300mm focal length, and so the 70-300 is perfect for me. I often go out with only one lens – and most often its this one.

      Its not desperately expensive (relative to Nikon’s top flight, professional lenses) and I’ve read very positive reviews of it from photography experts – one was very surprised that it doesn’t need stopping down to achieve top quality. Its quite light (it’ll balance well on your D600), has a good hood, its not too bulky, and it has Nikon’s Vibration Reduction, which is truly functional and invaluable.

      I can’t recommend it too highly – its 100% on my scale, and if I could have just one lens, this would be it. Have I convinced you??? I hope so! 🙂 🙂 😉 Thanks again! Adrian

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      • Jimi >>> how long have I been addressing you as Jimmy??????????? I hope its not long and I can only apologise profoundly – age and booze are taking their toll on me! Adrian

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  3. Wow, wow, wow ……. yes, I know – it sounds a bit like that Kate Bush song ….. but these are wonderful! What a feast for the eyes.

    Beautiful shots, Adrian. It’s lovely to see so many butterflies around at the moment. I’m so pleased you saw so many at once in your garden.

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    • Thank you very much, my friend >>> I was in 7th heaven out there this afternoon!

      Never heard Kate Bush sing, tho I have heard of her >>> did you follow up Two Door Cinema Club? I bought their Beacon cd from play.com and really like it.

      It is good to see butterflies now, a positive aspect of this heat! Of course there were incredible ones in Kenya but many natural things were incredible there and I didn’t take much notice of them.

      Thanks again. A

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