Winter Macro

One evening last week, all of a sudden, I had the crazy idea to go out into the garden with my macro set up and see what I could find in the dark. I cannot explain why I felt compelled to go out at that particular time of day, I am just very grateful I did. I surprised myself with what I managed to capture.

The weather was mild and dry for a January evening. Taking a torch, I scanned along the garden boundary. It didn’t take me long to find spiders, busy building webs in the dark. It was fascinating to watch as the spider handled the thread it had produced, scaling along one piece of thread to move forward, while placing another thread behind.

You can see why in Greek mythology the first spider was attributed to a weaver.

Arachne was an incredibly talented weaver who challenged the goddess Athena to a weaving contest. Athena crafted a tapestry depicting the Greek Gods as heroes, full of majesty, Arachne choosing to illustrate the many injustices the Greek Gods had carried out. Arachnes skill was undeniable but the subject matter enraged Athena who destroyed the tapestry woven by Arachne and transformed her into the spider.

Venturing further in the garden I came across two varieties of spider I have not knowingly come across before. My new spider field guide coming in extremely useful in identifying them.

The Walnut Orb spider, although quite a common spider, hide away during the day and emerge at night being the first of the new finds. Followed by Anyphaena Accentuata, also known as buzzing spiders (named due to the way the males vibrate their abdomen against the surface of leaves to attract a female). Managing to capture both of these filled me with such delight.

It is no secret how much I miss macro, so getting results in the colder season just fills me with such joy.

Another surprise discovery was finding a pair of moths in the gravel, procreating. I have not been unable to positively identify them as of yet. I am not sure if this behavior is out of season or expected. If I am able to find out I will provide the information in a later post. I find the more I learn about the natural world, the more interested I am in it and become more eager to learn all I can.

I look forward to more night time macro adventures during the year (regardless of lockdown) to see what else I can discover and learn.

How have you all been coping with the latest lockdown?

I have to admit my mental health has had a bit of a lull recently. New routines and being confined to the house has taken its toll. Although, doing something different, as simple as taking the camera out in the garden at a different time of day, made such a difference to break up the monotony.

Is there anything you have found helps you when you start to feel low?

I recently caught up on the series A Perfect Planet (BBC IPlayer) which I would highly recommend viewing. Some parts are not an easy watch, in particular where the effects of climate change and our part in it is discussed/demonstrated, which, in truth, should be uncomfortable to watch. Hopefully it will change peoples attitude and aide them in making better decisions in the future regarding the environment. Its not all doom and gloom though, the rain frog being a personal highlight.

Getting cosy, with a cup of tea and watching something like this really helps to calm me, especially if I cannot concentrate my mind on reading. Winterwatch (BBC) has returned to our screens this week and is another nature series where I know I can watch, learn and be calmed by. Its comfort watching. Are there any series’ or films you turn to when you need comforting?

I really hope you are all well, until next time, take care.

For The Love of Macro.

Another week in lock down completed and my love affair with the macro world is still burning as brightly as it previously had. I never, ever, ever thought I would get excited about snapping spiders, flies, snails etc but here we are.

If someone had said to me a month ago, that I would have a favourite spider, I probably would of laughed, I also would of been very wrong to. The zebra spider (a variety of jumping spider) has very quickly crept up into my affections.

How can a spider be this cute? It has got to be something to do with those big eyes. To me it appears like they are wearing goggles (a steampunk spider?). I actually squealed with delight when I got my first decent shot of one.

They are not the easiest subject to shoot, they move very quickly and unlike some other spiders they just don’t seem to stop at all. Their jerky movements and tremendous jump makes them quite unpredictable, so the fact I have been able to get any pictures makes me very pleased.

I am never one to beam over my own pictures but the jumping spider photographs are some of my favourites I have ever taken. Whether this due to my mood recently becoming quite buoyant, so to my confidence follows? or that the subject matter has become a new passion or it could be all of the above.

I am proud of what I have been able to produce these past couple of weeks and that isn’t really the done thing for me.

I have been extremely lucky this week to be able to access a local woodland for my allotted exercise time, this is the first time I have been out to any decent green space in a month. It was very much needed, I have spoken in past posts regarding the restorative power of nature.

The bluebells are currently out in full display and with the bright sunny weather we have been experiencing lately, the woodland offered plenty of exquisite dappled light.

One of my hopes for after lock down is for people to appreciate their green spaces more. The old saying of “you don’t know what you’ve got until its gone”, I knew I missed my nature walks, but being able to walk around those woods, selfishly, I wished I could be there everyday.

I am not sure when I will be able to get back out there, I am just so grateful for being able to at all.

I really hope you are all keeping well, until next time, take care.

Beauty And The Mini-Beasts.

So it would appear that this weekend, I have been bitten by the macro photography bug. I’ll apologise now to those that dislike insects/arachnids, as there are a few contained within this post, I have to admit I find them just as fascinating as any other wildlife.

The more bugs I snap, the more I’ve come to appreciate them and their world. I am aware that other people would not class them as conventionally beautiful but each mini beast, in their own way holds a charm.

To those who do not agree with the above sentiment, I have provided some more conventionally beautiful shots of flora.

Its been great and a slight relief to be excited about my photography again. I’ve loved being able to get my nature fix again, even if its not the wildlife I would of originally thought to rekindle my inspiration. It’s helped in keeping at bay, any more negativity I have recently been feeling.

This Easter weekend has not been without its hardship, as I am sure has been the case for many others. Another occasion where we are unable to visit family/friends at a time notorious for getting together. There is going to be a lot to make up for, when normality begins to resume.

I want to wish you all a very Happy Easter, I hope you are all able to make the best of a strange situation.

To remind those who may be interested, over on my Facebook page (search: Rucoby) I will be setting another photography challenge on Monday evening. The challenges are open to anyone, at any skill level. They are just a bit of fun to serve as a distraction for anyone who may be starting to feel despondent during lock-down, by getting you to think creatively and focus on something other than the current climate.

It was lovely seeing what others had made of last weeks theme (time). There were literal takes on the theme e.g pictures of watches, pictures for demonstrating what time has taken away and even a comical take with rosemary and thy(i)me. The photos are still on my Facebook page, so go and check them out. I hope they inspire more people to get involved.

Personally, I really enjoyed setting the previous challenge, it allows me an outlet to try and help others without putting anyone at risk. It has given me motivation to keep socially active, especially at a time where it would be quite easy to slink off and wallow in my low mood.

At present I am in a much better place emotionally than I was when I posted my last blog post. I really hope that this continues for the foreseeable future. I am desperately trying hard to stay positive and not put extra pressure on myself if I do have a low day. I really want to break the cycle of beating myself up for needing to recharge and making myself feel worse.

I again would like to wish you all a Happy Easter, until next time, take care.