Saturday, 8 December 2012

Beyond the image ...

The Bigger Picture

Although I like to capture what I see with a camera, I do not class myself as a photographer; my passion is the subject, not the photography. Don’t get me wrong, I want to take pictures that please me, and hopefully others, but I have no real interest in the photographic process or the ‘black art’ of post image capture manipulation software, other than that which allows me to slightly sharpen or carry out other minor adjustments. My pleasure comes from finding subjects to photograph, primarily entomological, and then producing the best possible pictures I can using my camera and fieldcraft. If I don’t succeed first time I need little excuse to go back and try again.

Which often happens ...

To me, a picture is not just about the quality of the captured subject but also, and possibly more importantly, the circumstances under which it was achieved. The location, weather conditions, temperature, time of day, the perfumes present in the air (particularly those that appear heightened at dawn), ambient sounds and, not least, if I was not on my own, the company with whom I shared the experience; the detail, the bigger picture. I know this all sounds a little 'airy-fairy' but it is important to me and is all part of my experience of being at one with nature, the environment and myself ...

With over a month's rain having fallen over West Sussex during a 24 hour period in early June 2012, several of my local rivers and smaller water courses had, not suprisingly, burst their banks. Extensive flooding occurred throughout West Sussex. After the storm came the calm and on the morning of 12 June I headed for Iping and Stedham Commons to look for the beautiful Silver-studded Blue, which had only recently started to emerge. It took little persuasion to tempt good friend Colin Knight to join me, who was also desperate to be out and about. We headed for a small south facing area of heathland where I discovered good numbers during their peak last year. In the poor light and low ambient temperature, I managed to find and photograph just three males in the short time I was there. On 27 June I returned, alone, to Stedham Common; my target, a female Silver-studded Blue. It did not take long before I found the first of many males, as they took flight from the purple heather and birch scrub; the smell of damp pine filled the air. Others, roosting amongst the undergrowth, gradually started to stir and as they did so they revealed their wings to the warmth of the new day. A slow walk through the heather finally produced four females; two rather tatty specimens and two very fresh individuals whose tiny gemstone adorned wings glistened in the hazy sun.

Considering all of the above comments, the female Silver-studded Blue below is my favourite shot of 2012; not only because the composition and subtleties of colour please me, and its not the best picture I've ever taken, but more importantly because of the total experience and the memories which are consequently evoked ...

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