Sunday, 29 July 2012

Pond Life And Macro Magic

Side-stepping from the usual focus of this blog, those of you who know me will have heard me for years, rabbiting on about getting a pond in my back garden, and at last, I stopped the talking and did the walking (well digging actually) earlier this year.

It's not massive - about 6 or 7 feet in diameter, with varying depths as suggested by various articles and websites I consulted whilst planning it all. Filled with a mix of tap and rain water (it poured down just as I was filling it up), I then waited a week or so for the chlorine to evaporate, before stocking with an array of oxygenating plants.

Then it was a case of letting nature take over, and boy has it ever!

Within a fortnight of the plants going in, newts moved in. I first spotted a bubble breaking on the surface, and then a sighting of a small tail swishing beneath the surface gave their presence away. There were three to start with, but two seem to have remained since then.

Not long after that, I saw a pond-skater, though only for a day. Snails have colonised it too, feeding on the plants and matter blown into the water from nearby. Various micro-organisms can be seen zipping randomly around in small groups, and then most recently, I realised the newts had been up to mischief and now there are dozens of newtlets swimming around in the shadows too.

Now, getting photographs with a telephoto lens would be tricky, as spotting the creatures means you need to be crouched right over the water, so while I had considered extension tubes for the 100-400mm, I had also been weighing up the idea of a macro lens. Specifically the 100mm, from Canon. An L lens, F2.8 with IS, which might help with my unsteady hands. I've never been much good with my 105mm Sigma. It would also allow me to photo all the insects I encounter whilst searching for birds to photograph!

With a free, sunny evening forecast the next day, I ordered from Warehouse Express. They're not the cheapest but offer next day delivery, so the following day I was chomping at the bit to get the lens, and into the garden for bug-hunting, and pond photography. That was until just after midday, when they called to inform me that it had been sent to the wrong depot. This the second time in six orders that they've b*ggered up delivery, and I wasn't happy. Not offering a refund of delivery, I had to ask for it, and then for confirmation of it to be sent before end of business that day, as apparently it had to be signed off by a manager.

Nothing, not until just gone midnight, when an anonymous invoice arrived, stating the refund would be credited in 5 days. I expect it'll take 6, as it'll be sent to the wrong place. No goodwill gesture, no follow up email. After spending over £1500 with them since 2010, they'll not be getting another penny from me.

The lens however is a gem. While the IS helps with the shakes, the problem now is movement between me and the subject, which means the focal point can miss the intended target, only by millimetres, but with a creature only a centimetre in length, can mean missing it entirely. A new challenge, but I like such things in photography.

As soon as I could get out with it, I did, and have been snapping away at insects, spiders and of course pond life.

The newtlets are a target, though focusing through water is almost impossible. When they come to the surface, it's more possible.

That said, when they're out of the water, it's easier still, as I found out yesterday with one on a reserve in Worcs.

More on that in the next Blog though...(don't worry, this won't become a macro blog - I still prefer bird photography!)

No comments: