Thursday, May 16, 2013

Casualty.....and a reminder of what it's all about.

Photographing Ephemerids, I've found out recently, is not as easy as you might think. Given a compact camera with a macro focus function, it's not too difficult as there is plenty of latitude with shutter speed and depth of field, meaning that just by pointing and clicking a decent image can be made.

However, I recently embarked upon a more ambitious project to catalogue in some semi-scientific kind of way, the males and females of each life cycle stage of the British Ephemeroptera. Proper, detailed macro photography and associated control of exposure, background etc, requires a dedicated macro lens mounted on a digital SLR; and with that come all sorts of difficulties concerning sharpness at narrow apertures, depth of field, slower shutter speeds when dialing in exposure compensation to lighten a white background etc etc etc

This is not a photography blog however, so I won't bore you with techno-geek camera talk. Suffice to say that the biggest challenge facing the would-be macro photographer, is that of keeping the bloody insect still for long enough to get a blur-free shot. The only really workable solution I have come up with to date involves chilling the critter until it becomes slow and dopey - but not so long that it expires from hypothermia.

Which is exactly what happened here. Mr olive upright (Rithrogena semicolorata), had all of two minutes in the chest freezer.....and came out stone dead. I feel a little guilty about this as most of my subjects make a full recovery from their icy sojourn and are released in the back garden. But my conclusion is this: olive uprights are to the Ephemeroptera, what rich tea are to dunking biscuits - lacking in moral fibre. I'll never see them in the same light again.

On a positive note, I am compelled to direct you to one of the best reads I've come across in a long while. Mike Cooper's blog Trout vs Fly is a delight and his latest posting concerning a recent trip from his native Kent, up to the Eden Valley, left me smiling from ear to ear. It's been a good few years since I made the transition from coarse fishing, through small stillwater trouting, finally to arrive by the banks of a wild river, and I confess I had forgotten about the feeling I had when first I began to explore our northern rivers in search of the trout and grayling therein.

Lucky as I am to live in this part of the world, it's easy to take what we have for granted - the scenery, the rivers, the opportunity for complete solitude. Fly fishing is such an absorbing pastime that it's almost inevitable we become more and more involved, descending ever deeper into the minutiae of analysis - weather and the season's changes; entomology, river levels, predation, farming practices and so on. Reading Mike's blog brought back again that purest feeling of joy in catching a wild brown trout - unlikely golden treasure from the flinty depths. The short video partway down the post is worth the visit alone, I promise.

As I write, the countryside continues to bloom into summer and with it, I hear much improved reports from our rivers this week. The next few days will see me out in the waders at some point, maybe proving to myself that I can catch a fish or two at times? Fingers crossed.


The Jassid Man said...

I did a lot of macro photographing in the seventies. Patience is the key (and I read about the hypothermia during that period too but I never tried it since I mostly took photos of spiders). Nice project you've taken on. Keep us informed!

Have fun with your camera and rod,
Mats Olsson

Lee Evans said...

Cracking photograph Matt.

Anonymous said...

Olive uprights "lacking in morale fibre"
Love it!

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