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Introduction to Wildlife Natural

In April 2019 I retired from full time work, I am now able to give more time to my hobby of wildlife photography. When I started taking macro photographs of Insects, back in 2013, I did not realise the fascinating world I was about to discover. What started as a casual diversion from taking pictures, mainly of birds and landscapes, has now become my main area of interest.This has made me more aware of the significance, insects and Arachnids (spiders) are to our fragile ecology system.

One of my first macro images I took was of a bee, well I thought it was a bee, until I unsuccessfully tried to identify what type of bee it was? After researching in various books and websites on bees, I was still no wiser on what type of bee I had an image of? Now  I was thinking the image I had was of an extremely rare bee! It was not until I discovered “my bee” was not of a bee at all, but an image of the Hoverfly “Eristalis Tenax”; (commonly known as the “Drone fly,” a good mimic of the Western Honey Bee). This awakened my need to gain more knowledge into the ever fascinating, “natural world of insects and spiders”.

My lack of knowledge, was a trigger that started my interest in photographing insects. Flying insects at first, which included hoverflies, bees and wasps; it was not long before I was taking pictures of anything and everything small that moved. You will see images on the  "Wildlife Natural" website of animals (mainly insects and spiders) taken only in their natural habitats; this is the only way to catch their natural behaviour, in image form. So because of this, you will certainly see some images on this website, which have clearly not worked from a photographic aspect! This being evident by composition, or by an obstruction, like a blade of grass, stick, or something similar that visibly protrudes across the subject.

Macro photography obviously involves getting close as possible to the subject, in return this can reward one with some very good detailed images. Trying to get close can regrettably disturb most species, some species will let you get as close as you like, on the other hand, others will not be as tolerant and will soon leave or hide from view. When a flying insect comes into your line of vision, a successful encounter has a high degree of unpredictability, if you’re lucky and you are able to get close enough, (maybe for a few seconds); this will give you enough time to get a reasonable number of images. Sometimes you will not even have a second or two, unfortunately this always seems to happen, especially  if the species is not a common species. I fully respect care must be paramount from damaging plants, by trampling on them. I start taking my first images from where I am standing, then I continue taking images as I slowly move towards the subject. (because getting something recorded of the subject is better than nothing) I have also learnt from past experience that by keeping my posture constant and keeping my hands on the camera, I have a better chance of getting closer. The last thing your subject is going to do is pose for you and in most scenarios, it has noticed you well before you have seen it. Various natural obstacles can block your progress in getting closer, or your subject’s position is making you having to take images towards the sun, which is less than ideal! But this is the way it has to be, if you are to succeed in getting a natural behavioral image. Luck plays a big part and luck can be on one’s side if the subject is preoccupied in doing its own thing, (normally feeding on a flower head). Sometimes luck can really be on your side, (particularly with flying insects) as it may come flying within inches of you. Obviously, it goes without saying on all accounts, you must avoid making sudden movements or noise, as what sounds very quiet to you, will be magnified many times louder to your tiny subject. Yes, I do get disappointed, frustration sometimes creeps in when I have failed to get a quality image of a not so common species.

When given time, the chance arises that you are able to take a  number images from different angles, results can be very rewarding from the visual aspect, as in return this gives a visual impression, to the natural movements of an animal. To have a chance of getting a good quality macro image with optimum detail, light is always the main factor. I now spend a lot of my time in Spain, so the sun is rarely not around. So, when possible I like to have the sun behind me approaching from a four or eight o’clock direction. In return this helps to cut down a lot on reflections you can get if you have the sun coming directly from behind you. Also early or late in the day your shadow could also give you problems, if the sun is directly behind you. It goes without saying that you must keep the camera as still as possible and I use a monopod most of the time, which gives me (good balance when moving the camera away from my  body) an important advantage of keeping the camera steady, in the vertical position. This helps as I keep my body and head still (for the fear of scaring my subject away) while at the same time I position my camera slowly towards the subject, the monopod helps me to keep a steady balance even at full stretch. I find the monopod is a must for me, much more versatile than a tripod when taking macro images on the move. The monopod also helps me to walk on uneven ground, especially as I step up or down on large rocks; as it takes the place of a walking stick! Also, it gives me a respite from the weight of the camera and lens.

The fascinating insect world opens up a never-ending world of learning, as you continue to discover different species of insects and spiders, you have never seen before. It never fails to surprise me when I get home and upload my digital images onto the computer, to see finer details, that my naked eye had missed when out in the field. The importance and natural beauty of any animal, is not fully appreciated and respected unless it can be seen active in its natural environment. This is where written records, filming and photographic images play a very important role; in helping us to be aware of a particular species needs. Each individual species plays its own unique role in our natural world, but with their habitats diminishing fast, it is not hard to realise a lot of species may not be able to survive for many more years to come. Ironically, many of today's  threatened species, have survived for thousands of years; until now that is!

I appreciate the importance of specimens being trapped and netted for identification; many species are disappearing all over the world at an alarming rate. Unfortunately, it only takes one scarce insect or spider, netted and taken from its environment, which could realistically have a devastating effect on that particular species survival. For this reason, I am not 100% supportive of collecting specimens, by undiscriminating trapping methods. Saying this I do understand the significance of the knowledge gained, in helping species to continue to survive in their declining habitats.

The images on this website are mainly from the Suffolk area of England and the Alicante Province of Spain, which fringes along the coast-line of Mediterranean Sea. Up to the middle of 2019 the macro lens used with my Nikon D800 camera was the Sigma 105mm Macro 1: 2.8D. (This lens I have had for over 20 years). I have now upgraded to the Sigma 180mm 1. 2.8 APO Macro DG HSM lens. This macro lens definitely has the advantage of not only having to get as close as my previous macro lens, but also has a larger “sweet focus spot". So needless to say, I am very happy with this lens. The Nikon D800 is a Full Frame Camera, with 36.3 mega pixels, I need as many pixels as I can get when taking macro images. The majority of my macro images are cropped quite severely. Most of the bird images have been taken with my Sigma 70-200mm 1. 2.8 APO DG HSM lens with a Nikon 1x4 teleconverter lens.

Feedback from my visitors is always welcome even if it is negative! I am still on a learning curve and all advice I can attain, is very much appreciated. If you are able to help in identifying any insects/spiders, or perhaps you feel a correction is needed on a particular species I have already tagged an identification too; please do not hesitate to get in touch via email to david@wildlifenatural.com. (top right Contact button)

All photographs on Wildlife Natural.com are copyrighted and may not be used or linked to other sites for any purpose without my permission. They are available for publishing, printing or other commercial use with my permission and terms. Special concessions will be given to registered Charities and Schools, please do get in touch via email. david@wildlifenatural.com (top right Contact button)

David March May 2019

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