MikeOxon

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Goldie M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Goldie M » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:58 am

Hi! Mike ,trying to catch up on posts, I love the Speckie on the Blackberries, really brings Autumn to the fore. :D Goldie :D

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:36 pm

Hi Goldie,

I'm pleased you like that photo. I am trying to capture aspects of behaviour, through the seasons, rather than just producing yet more standard portraits of familiar species.

Mike

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MikeOxon
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Annual Review

Postby MikeOxon » Wed Oct 04, 2017 4:41 pm

Now that Wurzel has announced the beginning of the 'Favourite Photos' thread, to take us through the Winter, I guess it's time to draw up my own review of my butterfly season.

Butterflies-1.jpg

Butterflies-2.jpg


The 'puzzle pic' in the second group may be easier, if you spot the small purple patch on the wing - it was very high up in a tree and hiding behind a leaf, so I was pleased to spot it at all!

For various reasons, I've not made many specifically 'butterflying' trips this year, so most of the 'special' species are missing from my collection. The trip I did make, to Bucknell Wood, following a recommendation by 'Art Frames', proved very successful, providing me with sightings of 20 species in one afternoon, not to mention several Valesina Silver-washed Fritillaries - and that was on a day rather later than the optimum time! Something to look forward to for a return visit next year :)

Other highlights were an interesting photo session at my local Dry Sandford Pit, where I managed to take several Brimstone top-sides by practising in-flight photo techniques, and a visit to Bernwood (also local),where I saw several Black Hairstreaks, although I missed a Purple Emperor that others saw on the same day.

I was sorry to miss several favourites, including Adonis Blue and Marsh Fritillary in particular but, hopefully, there's always next year ....

Mike

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Goldie M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Goldie M » Wed Oct 04, 2017 5:57 pm

All good things come to an end Mike but there's always another year, ( Hope fully ) :D Goldie :D

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David M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Thu Oct 05, 2017 8:07 pm

Shame you weren't able to get out as often as you would have liked, Mike, but your images are beautifully presented and encapsulate an entire year in a remarkably small bandwidth.

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:45 pm

Pleased you liked my photos, David. While I was looking through my collection, I noted that the Meadow Brown shown below had particularly well-marked spots on the underwing.

MeadowBn2017.jpg
Bernwood, Oxon - 18th June 2017
Olympus E-M5 with 100-400mm lens - 1/250s@f/6.3 ISO 1000

That inveterate namer of aberrations, J. W. Tutt, described his ab.biocellata as having "two well-marked ocelli on the underside of the hindwings". It's a matter of opinion what constitutes "well-marked" and, since Meadow Browns are so variable anyway, almost any specimen could probably be described as an aberrant by someone!

Mike

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Wurzel
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Wurzel » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:12 pm

I'd count those as well marked, they have a nice orange margin around them :D Great look back Mike, that Brimstone image in particular is resplendent :D :mrgreen: Hope to see you at the Social, if not keep on keeping on :D

Have a goodun

Wurzel

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MikeOxon
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Waterperry Gardens - 5th October 2017

Postby MikeOxon » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:48 am

For many years, I have made a visit to the Waterperry Gardens, near Wheatley, during the first week of October, both to see the wonderful herbaceous border and for an end-of-season viewing of the Vanessids in attendance. Over the last few years, however, I have noticed a marked change in the apparent 'season' at the times of my visits. Five years ago, I could photograph butterflies in abundance, as shown below:

Waterperry2012.jpg

Last year, I made a negative report in my diary, with no butterflies seen, at all!

This year, I could not help noticing that the herbaceous border was looking distinctly past its peak. When I got home, I compared my latest photos with those taken in earlier years and it was clear that, five years ago, the 'season' seemed less advanced, on almost the same date.

Waterperry2012-17.jpg

Of course, the timing of the seasons does vary, according to our fickle weather conditions, but my continuous record of photos, all taken around the same date, demonstrates a trend over several years. Regarding butterflies, I had a little more success than last year, with a very few Red Admirals and Commas seen, and an opportunity to photograph a Small Copper:

Waterperry-SmCopper.jpg
Waterperry, Oxon - 5th October 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 12-50mm macro lens - 1/250s@f/9 ISO 400


Mike

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David M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:37 pm

Not surprising that growing conditions in your part of the world seem ahead of normal, Mike. I don't think I can ever remember nature winding down so early in a year as this one. If the flowers are going over early, it stands to reason that butterflies will be doing likewise.

Still, there are a few weeks yet to get out and observe species on the wing, and with a bit of luck we'll get a decent cold spell to refresh things prior to the 2018 season getting underway.

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:51 pm

Now that the dark evenings have set in, I've been looking at alternative ways of practising my photography. My wife brought in a Venus Fly Trap (Dionaea muscipula) plant from the greenhouse, which had caught a fly, and offered it to me as a photographic challenge.

CaptiveFly1.jpg
Fly in Venus Fly Trap - 29 October 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 60mm macro lens - 1/13s@f/11 ISO1250

As regular readers of my diary will know, I have spent some time exploring the macro capabilities of my Olympus camera, which include the ability to 'stack' a number of photos so as to increase the apparent depth of field in the final combined image. I decided to push this capability to the limit and test its capabilities at the 1:1 magnification limit of my Olympus 60mm macro lens. To light the subject, I used my LED ring light, supplemented by a 10w LED floodlight, of the type intended for outdoor garden lighting.

At first, my results were a little disappointing but I soon realised that, to obtain the maximum amount of detail, it is necessary to use the maximum aperture of the lens - in my case f/2.8. Even stopping down to f/5.6 was sufficient for diffraction to 'take the edge off' the finest details in the fly's eye. Of course, when using a wide aperture, it was essential to use focus stacking, to maintain sharp focus across the full depth of the subject.

CaptiveFly2.jpg
Fly in Venus Fly Trap - 29 October 2017
Olympus E-M1 with 60mm macro lens - 1/100s@f/2.8 ISO400 (8 images stacked)

The fact that the fly was imprisoned by the plant provided me with a subject that was already held in a good position for photography. Perhaps, it might be possible to achieve similar results on a 'chilled' butterfly.

Mike

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Andrew555
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Andrew555 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:39 am

A great result there Mike, I must admit to not fully exploring some of the features that may be useful or interesting to me, with the camera's I've owned.

Cheers

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:15 am

Thank you Andrew. I like to use the Winter to explore photographic ideas that I can then use in the following season. I keep intending to tackle early life stages but haven't got around to it yet. In the field, as I've aged, I've moved to using longer lenses, which avoid some bending down and kneeling. Long lenses also have the advantage of causing less disturbance to the butterfly. There are some subjects, though, that really do need a macro lens.

Mike

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David M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:48 pm

Excellent, detailed close up of the fly, Mike. Maybe you need an early start next spring to try the same on roosting Orange Tips!

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:56 pm

Thank you, David. It took me several goes to get the lighting and everything else arranged for optimum results. If I can practise more, over the Winter, I might be ready for an attempt on a live specimen but it will have to be very dozy, to stay still while I set up :)

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MikeOxon
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Re: Super Moon

Postby MikeOxon » Mon Dec 04, 2017 4:10 pm

We're now well into that time of year when we reminisce about the good times we enjoyed over the past season (with the help of the 'Favourite Photo' thread), while planning next season's adventures.

I am just getting to grips with (yet another) new camera and exploring its capabilities. I have greatly enjoyed my two Olympus OM-D cameras, although my E-M1 had a somewhat chequered history. A strap lug parted company with the body during my New Zealand trip and, although it was repaired by Olympus under warranty, it did dent my confidence in the camera somewhat. When I recently suffered a shutter failure, it spurred me into a decision I'd been considering for some time, and led to me buying an Olympus E-M1 Mk.ii.

At first glance, the new version looks and feels very similar to the earlier model but there are significant improvements to the performance. I don't expect these changes to have much effect on butterfly photography but I have already experienced the very considerable improvement in the tracking auto-focus capability, when photographing birds-in-flight. This is a feature that I have missed, since changing systems from my Nikon D300s.

The new E-M1 Mk.ii does seem to have re-acquired that ability to lock onto a moving bird and to stay with it, even when it passes in front of background 'distractions' (trees, shrubs, etc.) I haven't had much time to practise, yet, but show an example below:

BIF1_2017.jpg
Radley GP, Oxon - 25th November 2017
Olympus E-M1MkII with Leica 100-400mm lens - 1/2000s@f/5.7 ISO1250 [trackAF]

The new camera retains the automatic 'stacking' facility, which I found particularly valuable for flower photography, and provides even faster sequence shooting, which I shall hope to use in the Spring, to record Brimstone feeding behaviour, as I did last year.

In fact, I used stacking last night, to process a burst of around 50 shots of the 'super moon'. The final image is as much a product of computer processing as it is of photography! I followed a 'recipe' I found on the web at https://darkartsastro.ca/lunar-image-st ... -worth-it/

This recipe involved pre-processing the individual shots with PIPP software, then using Registax 6 to 'stack' the individual images and, finally, using Lucy-Richardson deconvolution (available in the Raw Therapee image processor), to remove the blurring caused by atmospheric turbulence. My final result is shown below:

Supermoon_20171203.jpg
Abingdon, Oxon - 3rd December 2017
Olympus E-M1MkII with Leica 100-400mm lens - 1/1250s@f/8 ISO640 [49 images stacked]

By the Spring, I shall hopefully have gained confidence with the camera and be full of ideas for a new season's photography :)

Mike

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David M
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby David M » Tue Dec 05, 2017 7:38 pm

That image of the Moon is extraordinarily good, Mike. You certainly put some effort into that!

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Tue Dec 05, 2017 10:48 pm

Thank you David. It's a good way of using dark winter evenings. Even before all the computer processing, I was impressed by the performance of my Leica 100-400 mm lens, which has the added ability to focus as close as 1.3m for near-macro results.

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Andrew555
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Andrew555 » Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:36 am

Great moon image Mike, impressive kit you have there. :)

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Jack Harrison
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby Jack Harrison » Wed Dec 06, 2017 12:40 pm

That moon photo is fantastically sharp but I wonder if it is a little over-processed?
supermoon-crop.jpg
supermoon-crop.jpg (40.35 KiB) Viewed 67 times
The white dots/crater edges or whatever are far more prominent (artefacts?) than I have see in other pictures of a full moon.
That's just a crop to illustrate.

Next challenge is to use the same technique for Jupiter. The planet is still very low in the dawn sky but better placed by next spring. Opposition on 9th May but even then still rather low in southern sky.

And for those who might not understand planetary motions (you will no doubt skip this Mike), a planet is in opposition when it is directly opposite the sun so it rises when the sun sets, and sets when the sun rises, ie visible all night.

Jack

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MikeOxon
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Re: MikeOxon

Postby MikeOxon » Wed Dec 06, 2017 2:07 pm

Jack Harrison wrote:............ I wonder if it is a little over-processed?.............


You are by no means alone in thinking that, Jack. I have had similar comments from the Olympus UK forum, where I also posted the photo. I wanted to bring out the '3D' look of the photo and, in that area you pointed out, the chain of the Apennine Mountains shows up quite wll. It wasn't meant to be a 'moon map' (there are plenty of those already).

I was 'playing' with a new technique and, frankly, I was amazed by the amount of detail that my 100-400mm lens could reveal. Full moon is always a bad time for photographing the surface, since the flat lighting removes shadow detail, which would need far less processing in other phases. It's all part of a learning curve and I'm looking forward to trying other subjects.
Andrew555 wrote:...........Great moon image Mike, impressive kit you have there..........


Thank you Andrew. Although the E-M1 Mk ii is similar to the previous model, there's still plenty to learn and I'm hoping to find features that will be useful next season.

I had a vivid dream last night about being in the garden and seeing a Silver-washed Fritillary, which would be remarkable at any time of year, let alone December! It gives me an excuse, however, to post an SWF image from Bernwood, a couple of years ago:

SWF_2015Bernwood.jpg
Bernwood, Oxon - 9th July 2015
Olympus E-M5 with 40-150mm lens - 1/100s@f/22 ISO400

Mike


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