Tag Archives: Peak District

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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In the Presence of a Lady

Aug 28, 2013

A couple of days ago I had decided to visit Higger Tor in the Peak District to photograph some landscapes at sunset. This location is covered in interesting gritstone rock formations and affords excellent panoramic views of the surrounding area. As is too often the case, my camera bag weighed a ton. Surely I could have left some of my kit behind, especially my macro lens. After all, I was here to do landscape photography, wasn’t I? I trudged on, searching for a composition. Then I spotter her. A Painted Lady butterfly {Vanessa cardu}, basking on a gritstone boulder in the late evening light. Suddenly all thoughts of landscape photography vanished.

The first image I took (below) is technically fine but doesn’t show any real creativity. It was captured with my Canon 100mm macro lens using a tripod. Despite being straight forward, the shot required plenty of patience, gradually inching the tripod towards the butterfly so as not to disturb it. When stalking a butterfly like this, it is really important not to cast a shadow over it whilst moving as this will often scare it off.

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} - Peak District

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} – 100mm macro lens, tripod

To make things more interesting, I tried a different camera angle. By shooting low across the surface of the rock, I was able to look the painted lady straight in the eye, instantly creating a more intriguing image (below). The warm evening light shining through the wings added a splash of colour to the scene. There was no room for a tripod here so I had to rely on resting the camera directly on the rock.

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} - Peak District

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} – 100mm macro lens, handheld

I changed angle again, this time trying to get a darker section of background behind the butterfly to show off its backlit antennae.

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} - Peak District

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} – 100mm macro lens, handheld

I finished off with this wide angle shot (below) using the 16-35mm lens to show the butterfly in its context. Ideally I would have liked the butterfly to be facing into the frame, but repositioning the camera for this would have meant casting a shadow over the scene so that wasn’t really an option. Still, I was happy with the final image.

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} - Peak District

Painted Lady {Vanessa cardu} 16-35mm lens @ 20mm – tripod

Despite having set out to capture some landscape scenes at sunset, I ended up concentrating all of my efforts on a chance encounter with a butterfly. This is exactly why I find it so difficult to pack light, you never know when you are going to need that macro lens!

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

Red Grouse on Derwent Edge, Peak District

Aug 19, 2013

Early starts are all the harder as I have given up coffee at the moment! I reached Derwent Edge in the Peak District just before sunrise, and quickly spotted the distinctive silhouette of a red grouse.

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus}

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus} silhouetted at dawn, Derwent Edge, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK, August.

I was travelling light (for me anyway), taking just my 100-400mm and 16-35mm so that I could be as mobile as possible. To begin with I was after a nice, clean portrait of a grouse with the 100-400mm. After the sun had risen I noticed a male grouse peering out from amongst the heather, which is in full bloom at the moment. After several unsuccessful shots with busy, distracting backgrounds, I found a low angle that gave me the composition I was after.

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus}

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus} on heather moorland, Derwent Edge, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK, August.

As the grouse moved, new compositions became possible. The image below was taken just a few metres from the previous one, but has a very different background. The dark area is the shaded side of a gritstone boulder.

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus}

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus} on heather moorland, Derwent Edge, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK, August.

Once the portraits were in the bag, I decided to try some wide angle shots with my 16-35mm. This lens gives a very different perspective on the world, including lots of interesting habitat. After some careful creeping I was pleased to get the shot below, showing a male grouse in his environment.

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus}

Red grouse {Lagopus lagopus scoticus} on heather moorland, Derwent Edge, Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, UK, August.