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
Printed & Published Photographs
Ichneumon xanthorius – in Britain’s Insects A Field Guide 1st edition 2021, Paul D. Brock
Round-keeled Ladybird Rhyzobius chrysomeloides – in British Wildlife magazine, volume 33, number 5, April 2022, British Wildlife Publishing
Platnickina tincta – in Britain’s Spiders A Field Guide 2nd edition 2020 Bee, Oxford & Smith
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 reflect 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.
Click on images to enlarge.
Lacewing larva disguised with its desiccated victims
Deuterosminthurus pallipes Forma repandus – A globular springtail less than 1 mm long
Whirligig mite Anystis sp.
Dasyhelea larva, often found in birdbaths, tubs and gutters.
Gymnosporangium sp. a fungi gall with telial horns spreading spores.
Mycoacia fuscoatra, an irregular resupinate fungus forming large spreading patches.
Euzetes globulus is a tiny mite around 1 mm long.
Variable Oysterling (Crepidotus variabilis), an attractive fungi appears on dead twigs of broad-leaved trees in autumn and winter.
This is the Common Shiny Woodlouse (Oniscus asellus), caught in the act of moulting, leaving behind ghostly exuviae.
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.
Although I have a good general knowledge of species, and do diligent research, I am an amateur in all that I do here, so please forgive me if their are any glaring errors. However, over the years, I have had some assistance and help from individuals in identification of species, and they have been named on the relative pages.
Classification of Species
I have always had an interest in taxonomy and the classification of organisms, and appreciate the work that has gone into it over the centuries, especially from the early pioneers like Carl Linnaeus from the 1700s. I have included taxomic information, although quite simplified (in depth classification can be found on dedicated sites throughout the internet), on species included on this website, all gleamed from the National Biodiversity Network (NBN Atlas) as to ensure accuracy and consitency for UK species. Opinions may vary across different regions of the world, and the classification of species is always shifting due to new discoveries and advances in DNA analysis, so please be aware of any changes since writing.
Use of Photographs
I really hope you enjoy the photographs here. 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.
A Personal Journey
Although this website is in the public domain, this is a reflection of my personal journey – or journeys – and encounters with the natural world and the wonders in which it holds. Therefore this website is non-commercial, and as it is a free website hosted by WordPress.com any advertising seen is theirs and theirs alone. I do not personally gather any data from visits to this site, and I am not interested in doing so. This is a hobbyist site, persued by an amateur photographer and an amatuer naturalist rolled into one. Any observations referenced I would always advise seeking alternative research which may help to collobarate whatever you may be seeking to identify. I have referenced where possible various websites or literature which may help with this throughout the site.