MikeOxon

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:15 pm

Thank you for the comments, Pauline, Bugboy and Jack. It was an exciting afternoon for me and involved a lot of photo-sorting afterwards, as a result of all that high-speed shooting. I had about 500 frames, many with no butterfly in them after it had moved on!

Peter, I expect you have read reviews on the web, such as this one, while Steve Huff's website is a good source for information and reviews about micro 4/3 equipment.

In my opinion, the 'real world' performance of the Panasonic/Leica 100-400 is remarkably good. Reviews indicate that edge sharpness deteriorates beyond 300 mm but I have not found this a problem in practice and its remarkable close-up performance is a real 'secret weapon'. It's also a light and portable lens, unlike its DSLR 'equivalents'. While AF performance is excellent on my E-M1, it is much less good on my older E-M5 Mk.1. I don't know how other Olympus bodies fare.

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David M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:24 pm

Thanks for posting that sequence, Mike. Some delightful spring images there of course, particularly your early Orange Tip, but you've posted a very interesting Brimstone mosaic which I really liked.

Looks like we've got the earliest start to a season for 5 years with all these March sightings. The long range weather forecast looks okay, so we must all hope that we finally get some respite from damaging early conditions that have directly followed warm spells in March!

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Wurzel
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Wurzel » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:45 pm

I agree with Trevor a cracking OT :D :mrgreen: And the Brimstone essay was fascinating, I'd never really noticed the uncurling of the proboscis before but I have seen the 'headbanging' when they're really probing deep for the nectar, and those open wing shots are to die for :D :mrgreen:

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Tue Mar 28, 2017 11:28 am

Thanks for looking in again, David and Wurzel. It was a thoroughly enjoyable day with which to start the season. I gather that Trevor also saw an OT down in West Sussex. Of course, as Mr Trump tells us, these ever-earlier sightings cannot possibly be due to global warming :) Let's hope that the added turbulence in the atmosphere doesn't cause another 'difficult' summer.

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Goldie M » Tue Mar 28, 2017 1:36 pm

Fantastic shots Mike, it's great to know the Orange Tips are coming out even if it is rather early :D
The weathers taken a turn for the worse here today( cloudy all day ) Goldie :D

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MikeOxon
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Nuneham Courtenay Arboretum - 30th March 2017

Postby MikeOxon » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:35 pm

It was another pleasant afternoon, so I decided to take a walk around the Oxford University Arboretum at Nuneham Courtenay. There are always interesting plants to see at any time of year and, for today's visit, the highlights were provided by the Magnolias and Camellias.

Several Brimstones were ranging across the grasslands amongst the trees, although I didn't see many signs of feeding. My only butterfly photo was of a Small White *, which paused quite high in one of the beautiful white Magnolias. It's quite a distant shot but the setting was very lovely :)

GvW_Nuneham2017.jpg
Nuneham Courtenay, Oxon - 30th March 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 40-150mm lens - 1/1000s@ f/10 ISO 640

Mike

* EDIT - see below - my initial thought had been GvWhite.
Last edited by MikeOxon on Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:16 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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bugboy
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby bugboy » Thu Mar 30, 2017 7:59 pm

Lovely image Mike but sorry to burst your 'first for the year', pretty sure that's a Small white :)
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:14 pm

I thought it might be, although the underside looked very green when it flew - it was rather distant high in the tree. I'm happy to take your word for it since my ID skills are not great - even though I looked at the examples on this site first :) I'll edit my post now.

Mike

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby bugboy » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:24 pm

No worries Mike, I just saw your post in the other thread re. Whites so I don't feel so bad pointing it out now since you weren't 100% sure anyway :)
Some addictions are good for the soul!

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Wurzel » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:10 pm

Love the composition of that shot Mike, it firmly 'places' the butterfly and it's an interesting angle :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:20 pm

I assure you, Wurzel it was not a carefully planned composition! My wife spotted it, high in the top of a large Magnolia, and it promptly disappeared behind the flowers. I had a wide-angle lens on at the time and hurriedly changed it for a tele. Amazingly, the butterfly re-appeared, momentarily, before flying off, when I lost sight if it.

Having said that, I do like the way the butterfly is a 'whiter shade of pale' against the slightly pink magnolia petals. Glad you liked it, too.

Mike

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Wurzel » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:25 pm

It was a very serendipitous shot then Mike, which makes it all the sweeter :D

Have a goodun

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Sat Apr 01, 2017 11:06 pm

That image could easily be in a washing powder ad, Mike. Not sure if I've ever seen a Small White on Magnolia before, but it certainly looks good.

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:19 pm

David, these butterflies really are 'whiter than white'. See this scientific report for more details: Shanks, K. et al. White butterflies as solar photovoltaic concentrators. Sci. Rep. 5, 12267; doi: 10.1038/srep12267 (2015).

From the abstract to this paper "...the attachment of butterfly wings to a solar cell increases its output power by 42.3%, proving that the wings are indeed highly reflective. " No wonder their brightness causes problems for photographers :)

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Abingdon, Oxon - 5th April 2017

Postby MikeOxon » Wed Apr 05, 2017 4:51 pm

The air temperature was not high today but the sunshine proved sufficiently strong to bring out the first Holly Blue that I've seen, this year, in my garden. I remember that last year, these Spring butterflies proved very hard to photograph, so I was determined to stalk this one for however long it took! This year, I also had the advantage of a much longer lens on my camera.

After continuously twisting my neck around, trying to keep following the butterfly in its erratic 'jinxing' flight, I eventually spotted it land, high up in a climbing rose at the end of the garden. Initially, it sat side-on to me but, even as I raised my lens, it turned to face me head-on and almost disappeared from sight! I was anticipating another difficult session!

Fortunately, I managed to move, without losing the position, to get a better view, which shows off the 'warm coat' it appears to be wearing.

HollyB_2017-1.jpg
Abingdon, Oxon - 5th April 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 100-400mm lens - 1/320s@f/6.3 ISO 640

A little later, a burst of sunshine persuaded it to open its wings, revealing him to be a male.

HollyB_2017-2.jpg
Abingdon, Oxon - 5th April 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 100-400mm lens - 1/1600s@f/11 ISO 640

He was quite settled after the previous exertions and, after a while, I noticed the antennae beginning to droop - a sign that he was having a doze, I think. He was not allowed much peace before another insect, a Hoverfly I think, disturbed him and he flew up again and disappeared over the top of the shrubs.

Mike

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Wurzel » Thu Apr 06, 2017 7:40 pm

More lovely shots Mike, especially like the way the chequering on the leading edge of the fore wing stands out :D I got my first HB the other day - a blue blur against the stick background :lol:

Have a goodun

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:41 pm

Such a beautiful insect, Mike, and you have done well to provide an image with a perspective that few would notice.

Last summer was good for this species, and this spring seems to be similar. One presumes we're at the peak of the 7 year cycle?

No doubt numbers will plummet soon, so let's make the most of them.

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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Pauline » Fri Apr 07, 2017 5:22 am

Very nice shots of the Holly Blue Mike showing off his true colours. In bright sunlight that lovely blue sheen can often be difficult to capture.

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:07 am

Thank you again for all the welcome comments. I've been taking butterfly photos for many years now, so am trying to find different 'perspectives', rather than keep repeating the same types of shot, over and over again.

Like you, Pauline, I was struck by how deep the blue colour looked, at the angle of that shot. We did our own bit of 'animal rescue' yesterday. Coming home from a trip to Aston Rowant, I almost trod on a Holly Blue that was lying on our driveway. I think it had become chilled and was fluttering very weakly, unable to take off. I took it into a sunny spot in the garden and my wife brought out some grapes and squeezed a little juice for it. After a while, a proboscis unfurled and it lapped up some juice. A few moments later, it took off with renewed energy. Later I watched two males spiralling over the garden - perhaps 'ours' was one of them :)

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Durlston NNR - 20th April 2017

Postby MikeOxon » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:52 pm

Yesterday (April 20th), I visited Durlston Country Park, near Swanage, Dorset. It was not primarily a 'butterfly' trip but there were several Speckled Wood on the wing:

Durlston2017_SpWood.jpg
Durlston NNR - 20th April 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 100-400mm lens - 1/800s@f/9 ISO 640

and I also saw one Holly Blue. The aim of my visit was to see the Early Spider Orchids (Ophrys sphegodes) and I was pleased to see that there were many more flower spikes than I have found on previous visits.

Durlston2017_AnvilPt.jpg
Durlston NNR - 20th April 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 12-50mm lens - 1/800s@f/11 ISO 640

I was experimenting with using the 'stacking' facility of my Olympus E-M1, in conjunction with the 60mm macro lens. Fortunately, the breeze was very light, so the flowers stayed sufficiently still to prevent blurring, during the multiple exposures. This particular flower looked rather aggressive!

Durlston2017_SpiderO.jpg
Durlston NNR - 20th April 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 60mm macro lens - 1/1250s@f/5.6 ISO 640 (8 images stacked)

Other orchids seen included Early Purple (Orchis mascula) and Green-winged (Anacamptis morio). Off-shore, there were plenty of sea-birds: Guillemots, Fulmars, Shags, and several types of Gulls, while a Peregrine Falcon made a rapid fly-past, scattering Pigeons in all directions.

Mike


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