Monthly Archives: August 2014

Peak District Orchids

August 16th, 2014

It’s been a fantastic summer for wild flowers in the Peak District (UK), I don’t ever remember seeing so many orchids! Of particular note were the Bee Orchids (Ophyris apifera), which flowered in incredible numbers in some sites and were far taller than in previous years.

Bee Orchids {Ophyris apifera}

Bee Orchids {Ophyris apifera} Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK. June.

Perhaps they were helped by the mild winter we had, but whatever the cause of the orchid boom this year it has been a real delight to spend long summer days in the meadows working with these most delicate of subjects.

Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii} and Bee Orchid {Op

Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii} and Bee Orchid {Ophyris apifera} photographed with fisheye lens to show lowland calcareous grassland habitat. Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK. June.

Above is a habitat shot (captured with my Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens @ 15mm) to show the context the orchids grow in. Such pictures aren’t always composed to be pretty in their own right, but rather to help tell a story as part of a bigger picture set. I could spend all day exploring just these few square metres of meadow, it is heaving with beautiful macro subjects!

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK. July.

I like working at high magnification to show the intricate structures of the orchids, such as this pale form of a Pyramidal Orchid above. Here I have used a Canon 100mm macro lens with a very wide aperture to send the background out of focus. Another technique that I enjoy is commonly referred to as ‘field studio’ work. In this instance, it involves me putting a piece of white card a couple of feet behind the orchid growing in a meadow and blasting the card to pure white with an off camera flash gun. If I take several such photographs I can easily create a composite later in Photoshop.

Bee Orchids {Ophyris apifera}

Bee Orchids {Ophyris apifera} photographed against a white background in mobile field studio. Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK. June. Digital composite.

The creative possibilities with subjects as elegant as orchids are endless and by the end of each summer I am left full of ideas to try the following year. Fingers crossed next year’s display will be as amazing!

All images and text copyright Alex Hyde – www.alexhyde.co.uk

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A Dedicated Mother

August 12th, 2014

Over the past few years I have been documenting the lifecycle of the Nursery Web Spider (Pisaura mirabilis), which can be found in good numbers in Derbyshire where I live.

Nursery web spider {Pisaura mirabilis}

Nursery Web Spider {Pisaura mirabilis} female carrying egg sac, photographed against a white background in mobile field studio. Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK.

The female goes to extreme lengths to ensure her offspring are protected, right from the moment they are laid as eggs. Mothers can be seen running through the long grass carrying their large spherical egg sac with their jaws and pedipalps. When the eggs are near to hatching, she builds a silk tent using plant stems for support and takes up residence inside.

Nursery Web Spider {Pisaura mirabilis}

Nursery Web Spider {Pisaura mirabilis} mother in nursery web in meadow, with the spherical egg mass that she is guarding visible. Peak District National Park, Derbyshire. UK.

Once the egg sac hatches the mother stands guard over her babies, patrolling the outside of the nursery web.

Nursery Web Spider {Pisaura mirabilis}

Nursery Web Spider {Pisaura mirabilis} mother on nursery web with newly emerged spiderlings. Peak District National Park, Derbyshire. UK.

Only once all the spiderlings have dispersed will she move on. For me this is one of the sights of the summer and I have spent many happy hours photographing these fascinating spiders.

Notes on Photography:

All of these images were captured with a Canon 5d Mk III and 100mm macro lens. I use a tripod with no centre column (Gitzo Systematic Series) so that I can get the camera low to the ground.

All images and text copyright Alex Hyde – www.alexhyde.co.uk