Monday, 30 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 30

There were various things that I wanted to try to achieve with this challenge. Rather than just close-up shots, I wanted some wider shots showing lots of flowers and the animals who live among them.

Well, the weather has been against me much of the time but today was the best weather we have had for a while so I went out snapping. Today I am going to post extra to make up for the lost opportunities of the last few weeks.

Firstly, another close-up. We have hundreds (maybe thousands) of Dog Violets. They are so pretty. I really wanted to take a shot of a clump of violets but that did not work out so here is a close-up instead.

Dog Violet

Next, the bluebells are really disappointing this year. There are probably only about half the usual number. They started to flower in mid-March but stopped when the weather changed back to winter. They don't seem to have recovered. This is the best wide bluebell shot I could manage.


Finally, those animal shots. There are lots of pheasants around at the moment and their colours are brilliant.

Pheasant among the bluebells

While I was out with the camera, I came across 2 muntjacs. Sadly, I had my landscape lens on so I could not zoom in closer. This photo shows one of them. The other is behind the big tree on the right!

Muntjac among the bluebells

None of these are brilliant shots, but the best I could do in the time I had available and it was very windy.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 29

On the home straight now . . .

If anyone had said today's weather was going to be worse than yesterday, I would not have believed them. I was wrong. There has been torrential rain for most of the day. In the late afternoon, there was a bit of brightness, so I rushed out to try to get today's shot but it was quite windy.

This is a shot that I was hoping to get. This Azalea has been in bud for some time and I have been waiting for it to open. When it is fully in bloom it is a mass of yellow flowers and the scent is amazing. I could wait no longer. Here it is just starting to flower.

The purple/blue in the background is actually a carpet of bluebells.


Saturday, 28 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 28

I definitely chose the wrong month for this challenge. It's official - the wettest April for many, many years! Today was no exception - rained almost all day and when it did stop, it was so dull that (flower) photography was impossible.

Yet again, I had to pick something to photograph indoors. I am a bit fed up with low key photographs so thought I would try high key which I have never attempted before. Not sure whether it worked but here it is, a floret from a beautiful bright pink Rhododendron.


I was very distracted today by a little bird which obviously had a problem. It was a tiny little Goldcrest, a baby I think. It was walking up and down the window cill of my office window. If disturbed it would fly off and immediately come back.

It was very nervous and not still for a second, so it was difficult to get a photograph. The weather was so bad and dull that I had to use a high ISO, so the photos I took are a bit noisy.

This little thing was there all day and seemed to be trying to get through the window. When I went outside, I realised that it could see its reflection and possibly thought it was its mother.

I don't know what happened to it. The mother was nowhere to be seen and it was very distressed, but there was nothing I could do, except hope that it found its way back to its mother. Fingers crossed.



Friday, 27 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 27

I am longing to get out to do some outdoor shots, but the weather is against me. Very heavy squally showers on and off all day today and just too windy.

I rescued this Greater Stitchwort from a very heavy downpour. Happily the rain did not wash off all the pollen. This is one of my favourite wild flowers - so small and delicate.

I could not make up my mind which shot to post today. I have a rather nice close-up shot of the flower head, but I think the lighting is more interesting on this one. I just wish the flowerhead was pointing downwards slightly towards the camera.

Greater Stitchwort

My husband has just come in and said he prefers the other shot, so I thought should post that one too. Here it is. Any takers for this one?

Greater Stitchwort

Thursday, 26 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 26

Gale force winds and heavy showers interspersed with short sunny intervals. Not good weather for outdoor flower photography.

The Lilac bush was getting a hammering in the wind, so I cut off a branch to photograph indoors. I am reasonably pleased with this one.


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 25

Torrential rain and gales today but the sun broke through on two short occasions around lunchtime. Definitely April weather.

Two shots for the price of one today. I tried a close-up of a daisy with the Raynox again. It is okay but I find it rather lacking. The lighting is not really clever enough. So, I tried another shot with a bit of PP. I very rarely do much PP except for removing blemishes, tweaking the levels and sharpening so I would appreciate feedback about whether anyone thinks it works or whether it is a load of rubbish.



Tuesday, 24 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 24

The weather was a bit better today but still a bit breezy for decent flower shots. I managed yet another blossom shot. This time it is Wild Cherry which is different from the pink blossom of the Japanese Cherry that I posted the other day. I find it amazing that these blossoms are distinctly different. This one is quite delicate with yellow/orange anthers on the tip of the stamens.

Wild Cherry

If Sandra is reading this - notice the diagonal!

On another subject - we heard the first cuckoo last weekend and I saw the first Swallows today, so someone thinks summer is here!

Monday, 23 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 23

Defeated by the weather today. It has rained virtually all day and is still raining. Not even any opportunity to pick something and bring it indoors as everything is drenched.

I am therefore posting one of my backup shots that I took between the showers yesterday. If you look closely at these cowslips, you will see some of the raindrops.

Hoping for better weather tomorrow.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 22

A couple of years ago, I bought this flower as an experiment. Because most of our flowers are eaten by deer, I am always trying to find things they don't eat. I had noticed a few years ago that there was some Yellow Corydalis growing wild which they did not eat. When I saw a blue variety in the garden centre I thought I would give it a try.

Well, it has not been eaten yet, so I will probably go out and buy some more. So, my flower for today is Blue Corydalis, which, when you look closely is rather attractive.

Blue Corydalis

Saturday, 21 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 21

I was out first thing this morning before the rain set in trying to capture some wider shots rather than close-ups. I was not happy with any of them.

So, when I got home this afternoon, I dashed out between the showers and got this one which I am quite happy with. I wanted to wait a few days before shooting the tree peonies because they are spectacular blooms when they open completely. This one has only just started to open but I loved the rain drops on it.

Tree Peony after the Rain

Friday, 20 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 20

Seriously lacking in time to do a decent job on these photos. The blustery weather does not help. There were some very heavy showers today. Good for the garden but not for photography.

Today's offering is another weird tree flower that most people do not notice - ash. The strange motley white stuff in the background is a huge cherry tree in blossom behind.

Ash Tree Flowers

Thursday, 19 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 19

I was out most of the day so unable to shoot anything when the weather was reasonable. By the time I got home, the rain had started again and I was forced to cut a bit of cherry blossom to photograph indoors.

I love macro. I love the intricacy of the stamens and the delicate nature of the petals of this little piece of blossom. It is not the best shot in the world but all I had time for.

Cherry Blossom

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 18

Bad day!

The weather was lousy - wind and very heavy showers. The barometer is lower than I have seen it in a long time. I went out to try to pick a flower to photograph indoors, but most were tightly shut!

I am almost too embarassed to post today's photo because it is not good. But, this is a challenge and I have to post something whether good or bad.

My subject was a tiny little flower called Moschatel or Townhall Clock. The flower head is about half a centimeter diameter, so I could hardly see what I was doing. The flower head consists of 5 flowers, 4 of which point in opposite directions - yes, like a townhall clock. The 5th flower points upwards.

It is an ugly little flower but quite fascinating to look at close-up. This photo was taken with the 60mm macro lens, a 25mm extension tube and the Raynox. Taking photos with this setup highlights all the dust on my sensor - so much that you could grow potatoes in it. Note to self - get sensor cleaned at the end of the challenge.

So, apologies for this effort . . .

Moschatel - Townhall Clock

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 17

Wind, sun and heavy showers. Typical April weather today.

Today's offering is, I think, Blackthorn. It is not exactly in my garden but hanging over the garden fence from the field on the other side. I was rather pleased with this shot. It is amazing how different these blossoms can be. This one is quite delicate but I love the red-tipped stamens.

Blackthorn Blossom

Monday, 16 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 16

After my failure to get the shot I wanted yesterday due to the wind, I went out before breakfast this morning in the hope of capturing it before the wind got up. The wind beat me to it, but it was better than yesterday.

These are Oak Tree flowers. Strange little things. I find them quite intriguing.

Oak Tree Flowers

Sunday, 15 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 15

I had a very unsatisfactory day today. I tried lots of outdoor shots but none of them worked, mainly because it was a bit too windy and I could not get any sharp enough. So, I have had to resort to another indoor shot. This is a very eye-catching primula.


Saturday, 14 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 14

A bit grey today. A lot of the flowers were all closed up waiting for the sun to appear, which it did very briefly.

This is a flower (weed) which I find rather intriguing. Most of them seem to get eaten by animals before they flower fully but this one must have been overlooked.

You may call it Cuckoo Pint or Lords and Ladies. The central rod, which is apparently called the spadix, is usually a purple brown colour. Strangely this one was green. Maybe they mature to purple?

Here is today's offering . . .

Cuckoo Pint / Lords and Ladies

Friday, 13 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 13

It is proving to be very difficult trying to find time to take/post a photo a day.

I have an obsession with bluebells. The bluebell season is a magical time of year. They are the most incredible sight when in full bloom.

I have been deliberately holding off taking a bluebell shot for this challenge otherwise we could have ended up with 30 bluebell shots this month.

I could hold off no longer . . .

English Bluebell

Thursday, 12 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 12

Thundery showers on and off all day with sun in between. I managed to pop out between the showers and snap this one. I am not sure what kind of blossom it is. It is an ornamental tree which we planted a few years ago. The blossoms are a creamy colour rather than white and they are tinged very slightly with pink. Very pretty.

I am pleased with this shot. It was a bit lucky because it was quite breezy, and I managed to take it just as the wind dropped for a moment. If you look closely you can see the raindrops. It had only just stopped raining.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 11

Struggling again. The weather is changeable with sunshine and showers, but most importantly more wind which makes outdoor flower photography difficult.

I have tried on several occasions to shoot this Berberis shrub but don't seem to be able to get a decent shot. They are tiny flowers but there are so many of them the whole bush seems to glow orange. I wish I could capture the effect. Instead I have had to resort to a close-up.

Berberis Darwinii

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 10

In an attempt to try something different, I thought I would try the Raynox to capture those little curly stamens on the humble dandelion. They have always intrigued me. You can only see them in macro shots.

When I took this shot today, I was amazed to see all the pollen sticking to the stamens - impossible to see with the human eye. It is not surprising that so many people suffer from hay fever if a single dandelion has so much pollen. There must be masses of it floating around.

Dandelion stamens with pollen

Monday, 9 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 9

The weather has deteriorated. There has been light rain on and off all day. This is going to make my challenge difficult.

Today's flower is the Cuckoo Flower, so-called because they flower at the time the cuckoos return from Africa. They are a bit out of sync this year because I have heard no cuckoos yet.

These flowers also attract the Orange-tip butterfly.

Cuckoo Flower

Sunday, 8 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 8

Dull for most of the day, but there was a little brightness this afternoon.

The Kerria bushes seem to be doing really well this year. I have two of these shrubs and they are both covered in blossom. They obviously don't mind the drought conditions.

Kerria Japonica

Saturday, 7 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 7

Not a good day today. The weather was grey with a sprinkle of rain.

I tried photographing various things but nothing seemed to work. This Forget-me-not was the best shot from today. I am reasonably happy with it. They are pretty little flowers.


Friday, 6 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 6

More time for photography today because of the Easter holiday. I managed to take this shot while the sun was out and before the wind blew up. This is pear blossom. The apple blossom is not out yet.

Pear Blossom

Thursday, 5 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 5

A cold, dull day with still no rain. A hosepipe ban starts today in this area because of the drought. These periwinkles don't seem to mind the lack of rain.

Greater Periwinkle - Vinca Major

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 4

While parts of the country are covered in snow, we have still hardly had any rain. Here is the day 4 offering.

Grape Hyacinth

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 3

I thought I should snap a daffodil today. They have been out a long time and most of them are past their best.


Monday, 2 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 2

I am struggling with this challenge already and very dissatisfied with today's shot. Hopefully I will do better tomorrow....

Spiraea Thunbergii

Sunday, 1 April 2012

My April Challenge - Day 1

As I mentioned yesterday, in an effort to improve my photography, I have set myself a challenge for the whole of April.

I plan to photograph a different flower each day for the whole month. The weather could, of course, upset my plans, so I am allowing myself to take multiple photos on a single day to use on those days when I either don't have time or the weather defeats me.

Today was a beautiful day. Here is my effort...

Lesser Celandine