Nature photography can be an unbelievably frustating hobby: all those missed chances when you spot the animal too late, all the times when you have the wrong lens on the camera and are either too close or too far away, forgetting to check settings on the camera body and finding all the images are under or over exposed, not to mention the excitement of seeing something wonderful, but being so engrossed in its beauty you miss the fact that something awful was also included in the frame. Yesterday I managed two mistakes, one that I could rectify later and one chance that will probably never come again.
I had been out for my morning walk and headed up to an area we call 'The Forest' - it actually doesn't remotely resemble a forest, but there are a few trees there, and living in an area almost denuded of them, it is easy to get carry away with descriptive titles! Alongside the lane that runs by The Forest there is a ditch where the Marsh Marigold grows. As with all the wildflowers it is much later this year than normal, and I had been checking it almost daily in the hopes of catching the first blooms to appear. I spotted its golden glow immediately, it was there, just on the edge of the ditch, where it first drops down from the road. Straight away I went blank! Eyes glazed, camera up and shutter being pressed. I looked at the screen on the back of my camera and the exposure looked great. All I saw was that beautiful flower, with eight deeply veined golden petals. I ended my walk in a daze of happiness.
Then I got home and brought the images up on the computer screen! :-( In my enthusiasm I had missed the finer points, such as the dead leaves that surrounded it, causing unsightly brown splodges that totally distracted your attention away from the flower. Oh well, at least I didn't have far to go back. I could wait until softer light in the late afternoon and try again.
Late afternoon came and I fitted my 70-300mm IS lens, along with an extension tube (if you have never tried this combination, it is great for getting flower shots, as it allows you to get nearer to the blooms. thereby producing frame filling images). I then called the dogs and headed off along the lane. I hadn't gone far when I spotted a movement on my left, in a hole, on the top of a bare banking. I was sure I had just seen the beady eyes of a Weasel. I know from past experience that a Weasel always has to come and have another look, they are such curious creatures who like to check things out and see what you are up to. I was left with a terrible dilemma: the combination of lens and extension tube is great for blooms but it has the problem that it no longer focuses on infinity, and I now wouldn't be able to focus on the hole, as I was too far away. If I moved forward I would probably scare the Weasel off, but if I stayed where I was, there was no chance whatsoever of me getting a photo. Suddenly the Weasel once again appeared. He stayed for a long moment and stared at me and the dogs, and then he shot back down the hole. I decided to quickly remove the extension tube and hope that he would reappear. Sadly he must have disappeared out of another hole, or decided to wait until he was sure the coast was clear, because despite waiting for half an hour I didn't see him again. I carried on with my walk, cursing my luck as I went.
The Gods must have felt that I needed my spirits lifting, because above me, as I walked up the lane, the swallows filled the sky with their acrobatics, as if putting on a show soley for my benefit - where this morning there had been one, now there was a dozen or more. And to lift my spirits even more, I got the shot of the beautiful Marsh Marigold bloom - I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I did.