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Yorkshire based Professional Landscape and Wildlife Photographer

Waiting for the Perfect Conditions…. (+ more fun with Canon 5DS)

Posted on 20/07/15

I've been quite busy recently both in and out of the world of photography. I've also found the world of a professional photographer often involves a lot of work other than taking pictures... I've been getting ready for my exhibition at the White Cloth Gallery which starts next week. Getting this ready has been a lot more work than I envisaged! The opening night is 30th of July if you are near Leeds then please come along smile There's a Facebook event HERE

So basically life at the moment is busy and therefore time is precious. It's also the best time of the year for photographing a number of my favourite subjects butterflies and damselflies. I managed to photograph both species quite well last year but I really wanted to up the ante this year, also I'm now armed with the canon monster pixel 5DS. But if you want to photograph these critters well (and preferably stacked shots covered in glistening dew drops) you need the right conditions! The worst conditions is wind and we have been having a lot of wind here. In fact it seems to have been windy every day for weeks and if you want to do precision macro, stacked shots and use a 51 megapixel camera conditions are very important.

So I've been waiting for the perfect conditions and waiting and waiting... This has meant that I haven't really been out so much and that well you start to lose your mojo a bit.

I've has a few morning where I went out early doors and found perched marbled whites and got shot's I've been happy with. Just no dew drops.

Yesterday the wind was really howling but I've a friend over from Norway and I wanted to show them some of my favourite macro sites. We headed to a good butterfly site and managed to get my first dark green fritillary shots.

Then remembered that some critters will perch more in the heavy winds and I managed to get 3 shots I could stack of this hoverfly by strategically gripping the plant with my thumb and forefinger.

I think the wind can add a bit of dynamism to butterfly shots. You can almost feel this marbled white being blown about in the wind! Again the butterfly behaved differently in the high wind as I grasped the thistle underneath.

We then pushed onto another site which is good for reptiles. I managed to get my first shot of a black darter dragonfly smile Again it was blowing in the wind but you just have to time the shot!

Managed to get a handheld stack of my favourite damsel fly the emerald damsel fly.

But the highlight of the day had to be finding this wild grass snake and adder laid together. This is a fairly rare sight so was very happy to see it smile

So a day of very little expectations and it turned out to be great.

Last night I'd checked the weather forecast and it was showing virtually no wind for early in the morning. So alarm set for 4:45am and headed out. Got to the site and trekked to the area where the marbled whites roost in the long grass. Bingo marbled whites covered in dew. Just what I've been waiting to photograph for ages. I used the Canon 5DS and all of these shots are stacked (between about 5 and 30) and try to use as many of the cameras pixels as possible so the files are huge! I'm not going to go into detail about the stacking but for all of the below I used the Canon 5DS, Canon 100mm f2.8 IS L, an extension tube (well on most of them) and a tripod.

A 100% crop showing the crazy detail you get with stacking the 5DS files.

The next shot although the drops are not so obvious is my favourite from the morning.

Most people see ragwort as a week but I think it works quite well in this shot.

So I finally had my perfect morning with the dew covered butterflies. But if I'm honest I think I enjoyed the day before more and I think the pictures are more interesting...

I think it's good to have projects and specific goals in photography but it's not good to do that at the expense of spending time "out there". A lot of my favourite photographs have been just from heading out and spending time in the field. I feel that I've been a bit to goal orientated and yesterday felt good to have a day where it looked far from good conditions and it still turned out to be an amazing day smile

Any questions or feedback just let me know.

Happy clicking,

  • These are fabulous, Oliver. So interesting to see them in different conditions. You did a stunning job and was floored when I read about the weather conditions you experienced for some of these. Hard pressed to say which are my favourites. That hoverfly is a cracking shot but I think I may like the first and the last best.  However the thistle and the marbled white is breathtaking and certainly grabbed all my attention. And the crop of that eye is amazing! Such detail and contrasting forms. Thank you so much for sharing these.

    HazelY - 20 July, 2015
  • Superb Ol, definitely the best butterfly shots I’ve seen, top notch!

    Looking forward to seeing more, you’re getting the most from the Canon for sure.

    Take it easy.


    Mat Richardson - 21 July, 2015
  • Hi Oliver
    Excellent pictures may I hasten to add.

    I’m a macro photographer and use the Canon MPE-65 would I benefit from using the 5ds or 5dr for my macro photography.

    Many thanks
    And keep up the excellent work and reviews

    Garet Llewellyn - 03 April, 2016
  • Hi, Oliver. Just curious if you have tried the 5Ds with the Canon MPE 65 yet? Its been a year since this review. Most of my macro work consists of insects 5mm and under using the 1Dx, 1D MK III and don’t laugh, the original Canon Rebel for the 1.6 crop factor. Thanx. Al.

    Al Popil - 24 April, 2016
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