About


A Brief Introduction


“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.” John Burroughs

John Burrows certainly speaks to me with that wonderful quote. Photography is one of my passions, and one of the ways I record and interpret the beauty and wonders around me. All aspects of nature always awaken my curiosity and never fail to excite or inspire me.

All it takes are a few moments to simply stop, have a look around, listen and open up the senses to discover some of the interesting and fascinating wonders of nature. It is a hope that these pages will help in identifying some of these wonders and to further knowledge in these discoveries. It is also a hope to instill appreciation and conservation in the varied habitats and species which rely on them for future generations to enjoy and be inspired by.

Peter Hillman June 2016

Peter Hillman


Printed & Published Photographs


Ichneumon xanthorius male
Ichneumon xanthorius – in Britain’s Insects A Field Guide 1st edition 2021, Paul D. Brock
Platnickina tincta – in Britain’s Spiders A Field Guide 2nd edition 2020 Bee, Oxford & Smith
Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata) nymph
Lesser Water Boatman Corixa punctata nymph – in Identification of Freshwater Macro-invertebrates in West Flanders 1st editon 2018

Typical Macro Shooting Gear


The camera body is the Nikon D7200, and the lens is a Sigma 105 mm macro lens, which gives 1:1 images. For closer work a Raynox DCR-250 conversion lens is simply clipped on the end of the Sigma lens making it around 2:1 magnification in total. For added light a Nikon Speedlight SB-700 is used with a diffuser fixed to the front of the lens. I also use a diffuser attached to the speedlight. A tripod is not used due to the spontaneity in this field of nature photography, so all photographs are taken handheld. For extreme macro I use the Raynox MSN-202 super macro conversion lens.


Camera Settings & Techniques in Macro Photography


Full manual camera settings are used for full flexibility and control. ISO range is generally between 100 and 400, but keeping near 100 where possible and where available light and subject allows. Camera speed in the main is set to 160, but will up to 200 depending on situation. Aperture/f stop between 16 to 29 to gleam as much detail of the subject where possible. For extreme type macro, because of the shallow depth of field at this range, aperture is narrowed down to 29, any more and diffraction can kick in and reduce quality of image, but that all depends on the lens used.

With macro, especially extreme macro, flash is essential, and diffusion is important so as to reduce nasty, glaring hot spots on the subject. Many insects and other invertebrates have scales which can relfect light, or hard shells, and diffusion helps reduce glare which can distract from the subject. Eyes of spiders is another issue, too, and sometimes ‘double’ diffusion can be used to reduce further.

Some experts state that a tripod or glide rail system is essential for macro photography in keeping stability to reduce camera shake, bit I personally have never used a tripod or have owned a glide rail system. I find a tripod cumbersome, especially out in the field. It would work for flower or fungi, perhaps, as they are not going to suddenly crawl or fly away as most critters do. I don’t use the live view but the viewing aperture, and I find the pressure against the eye socket helps give added stability. Where possible I brace arms, elbows, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees – even my butt – on supportive structures – whatever to give me added stability. Holding my breath when I get the sweet spot focus and taking the shot helps, too. And of course taking as many photos of the subject where comfortable can help capture that one shot that makes a difference.


Recording & Identification


All photos are taken in my small patch of South Staffordshire except where indicated. Many invertebrate species were recorded in my own small back garden. I created a small pond some years ago, have a log pile, a bee hotel, bird feeder and birdbath, and try to plant nectar rich flowers to attract pollinating insects.

I use iRecord to record my sightings. I also contribute to iNaturalist.

Although I have a good general knowledge of species, and do diligent research, I am an amateur in all that I do here, so if there are any mistakes made in identification I would appreciate it if you could let me know via a comment so I can review it.


Example Images


Elephant Hawkmoth Deilephila elpenor
Elephant Hawk-moth
Deilephila elpenor
A globular springtail less than 1 mm long
Deuterosminthurus pallipes Forma repandus
Rosy Bonnet Mycena rosea
Rosy Bonnet
Mycena rosea

Use of Photographs


I really hope you enjoy the photographs here and they give out a good vibe. All the photographs which appear on this website have been taken by me, Peter Hillman. These photographs may be used for personal, educational or non-profit purposes. However, please let me know out of courtesy before using them, as I don’t want to find them suddenly appearing elsewhere on the internet, or anywhere else. The exception is if you are a teacher or a student and you wish to use them for presentations or course work, so feel free to use them there and then. For any other uses of my photographs, for printing or website use as examples, please use the Contact page.


91 thoughts on “About

    • Thank you for your kind words Margie :0) I am pleased I have found your wonderful site which is so detailed and full of the beauty and the wonder of nature. I will look forward to visiting more!

      Like

  1. Hi Pete,
    Your blog is such a wonderful collection of photos, interesting creatures and the beauty that nature brings us. I have talked a few times on my own blog about wanting a pond in my garden one day to attract wildlife. I very much look forward to seeing what joys yours brings to you.
    Kind regards,
    Laura

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you very much for stopping by and for leaving such a lovely comment. I had always wanted a wildlife pond in my own garden, but I kept putting it off, until I finally took the plunge this year. And within a short space of time I was amazed how much pond life was visiting and taking up residence there. In my ‘Garden Pond’ tab behind ‘Garden’ you will see what I have discovered so far. I hope you do build your own pond one day, Laura, and that you experience the daily delights as I have! Best wishes, Pete

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Your two paragraphs at the end: “I find beauty, wonder, peace…” And “All it takes…” both capture how I feel outside when I photograph nature. It’s neat to discover people that have the same interests from across the globe!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you for your lovely comment 🙂 It is indeed neat to join up with kindred spirits from around the world, and very interesting to see the flora and fauna on their side of the fence, so to speak.

      Liked by 2 people

    • You are very welcome, and thank you for joining me here! Yes, I have always loved seashells, collecting them and photographing them, and wondering what the animal inside them was up to in life before shedding its shell.

      Like

  3. Your new home page (or is it one I’ve never discovered before?) is a great showcase for your year’s photos. It’s an impressively wide selection of both well and lesser known species with some beautifully atmospheric images too.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Hi Pete,
    Many thanks for the follow on my photography blog, and for the many ‘likes’ on posts yesterday. It’s kind of you to take the time to look at so much, which takes time. I find it quite hard at times to comment on and like the (too many) blogs I follow, and write my own posts etc.

    I was just re-reading your ‘About’ page and a lot of your thoughts are the same as mine especially with regard to how nature is wonderfully calming and good for the spirit. I was brought up on a farm in Oxfordshire and moved to Canada when I was twenty-two, ending up in the Rockies in the very depths of nature. Now in a most wonderfully isolated spot in France with no one in shouting distance. Silence definitely feeds the soul.

    Re photography, like you, I hardly ever use a tripod, and I do some photo editing, I also use photo editing to create pictures for cards and a simple book I’ve written, and for sheer fun.

    Thanks again for following all my blogs! 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are more than welcome, Jude and thank you 🙂 You appear to have travelled far and wide, and and have lived and live in some amazing locations on the planet. It is fabulous being close to nature! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your query, Brian. I use an old version of photoshop, Adobe CS4. There is a new version available, and Adobe Lightroom, but you have to pay monthly for it, which is why I have not gone for it yet. It all depends on what you want to do. I only usually crop, adjust levels, reduce noise and sharpen. Maybe remove the odd artefact or two which may be a distraction from the main subject.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Pete – I just saw your “new?” home page. Wow! What a huge and amazing selection of images. I was trying to scroll down to the bottom to leave a comment, but it just kept loading up more photos. How many do you have on that page?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Michael – Thank you very much for your lovely comment 🙂 The home page has always been there, and each image represents a post, and there are 923 posts to date, hence 923 images on this page. Some posts have one image, others may have four or more. The top menu makes it easier to navigate as it breaks the posts down into catergories.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Pete,

    I’m glad I found your website ! and I will frequently come back.
    Your photos are wonderful, You can see by looking at your photos that you are fascinated by nature.
    Wish you a nice day,
    Els

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Els,

      Thank you very much for your lovely comment 🙂

      I have visited your blog and you have some beautiful photographs on there, and you are certainly passionate about the natural world and phototography as I am 🙂

      Best wishes, Pete

      Like

  7. Just found your lovely blog. I moved to France this year and am in the process of setting up a wildflower garden for the local wildlife. You seem to see such a wide variety, it just shows there is so much going on if you encourage these little visitors. Lovely photos too.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Judi 🙂 Sometimes it is just seeing what has been there all along, and encouraging more, diverse wildlife into the garden can only be a good thing 🙂 All the best with your wildflower garden!

      Like

  8. Hi Pete, I have a question. Do you have the WordPress 3G plan? Your blog is .wordpress.com. With so many photos on your blog, are you running out of media space?
    I used 74% of the media space. I’m trying to figure out if I want to upgrade? If I do, they would ask me to change to .com, .blog, or .net. Last time I made a slight change of my link, many bloggers couldn’t find me.
    Eventually, I need more media space. I’m wondering how you handle the space situation.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thanks for this lovely introduction.. and the great pics. I don’t think I have read it throughly before. So sorry. It would wonderfully have answered my questions of before. x

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Good morning. In your site is not easy to find how contact you.
    I wish to use one photo of Coreus marginatus for article of entomology.
    Best regards. Guido Pedroni Italy

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi there Pam,

      Sorry I am late in replying, but thank you for the well wishes for a New Year which again seems to be flying by. I hope you are well and you are enjoying your Year there! Best wishes Pete

      Like

    • My dear blogging friend Ark,
      Thank you for your comment, but I am good thank you. I can’t believe where the months have gone since I was last on here. I hope all is well with you and yours over there.

      Like

      • You’re back! If only for a flying visit?

        Life is such that bloggers succumb to it – life – like ”normal” people, and sadly some end up with the Choir Invisible.
        Several blog pals have gone this way unfortunately, so when the ”airwaves” are quiet for any length of time there is a general feeling of concern.
        In fact, during the time you were off the air our area had no phones or internet for six weeks after a spate of cable theft.
        It was disconcerting and family and friends were getting in a bit of a tail spin.
        How we rely so heavily on such means of communication.
        That said, it’s nice to know you’re alive and kicking, Pete.

        Yes, everything is hunky dory over here in Johannesburg – now that the lines of communication have been restored.
        Regards
        Doug
        (Ark)

        Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you very much Ark! I am hoping to stay now things have settled down here somewhat. Sorry you have had your own issues there, but glad things are up and running again. I will look forward to dropping by and seeing what you have been up to! Best wishes Pete

        Like

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