|'A Bug's Life'||5 December 2017|
On Tuesday evening, we welcomed back Johnnie Rogers ARPS DPAGB AWPF AFIAP to Devizes Camera Club for his presentation showcasing macro photographs of insects taken, mostly, in South Wales.
Johnnie started by showing us some of the equipment he has used in pursuit of his macro images. Firstly, he had a Nikon APS-C camera fitted with a 400mm F4 lens and extender, mounted on a monopod with a gimbal head. While this is an excellent combination, he explained that he finds it too heavy and cumbersome to carry around all day. So, he started using cameras with smaller sensors and sang the praises of one with a 13x9 mm sensor to which he can attach a 200-800mm equivalent lens, extension tube and a flash and which is small enough and light enough to carry in a shoulder bag without discomfort. Not only is this a much lighter combination, he claimed, but can provide better results. “Mirrorless cameras are the future” he announced.
Johnnie explained that he doesn’t travel too far for his macro photography, preferring to spend time in his local Gwent Levels or in the gardens of National Trust properties with their large array of insect attracting flowers. He tends to go to the same patch most days, walking his dog, Benson, who he credited with much of his success. The dog has become an expert at flushing out insects onto grass stems and leaf litter for the ever watchful Johnnie to photograph.
He then showed us a large array of fabulous close-up images of insects, including an Alder Fly guarding its eggs, St Mark’s Flies mating and a Bee Fly. He marvelled at the green fluorescence on the body of a Green Sawfly and described a Scorpion Fly as the clown of the insect world.(right)
He showed us a Hover Fly impaled on marsh grass and a Yellow Dung Fly suffering from a form of fungus.
Johnnie spent a moment describing a number of good Macro Focusing Rings that could be bought quite cheaply before showing us images of insects that he taken with such equipment. A Speckled Bush Cricket taken with a 90mm Tamron lens and extension tube, fitted with a Ring Flash; a Snip Fly so close that it showed golden flecks on its abdomen that are not visible to the naked eye. We also saw Early Bumble bees mating and a 10mm White Crab Spider spread across the screen in close-up and a tiny Mint Moth with its beautifully coloured 18mm wingspan.
He showed us night time shots of a red False Widow Spider and a Tube Web Spider, the two most venomous spiders in the UK. Having regaled us with horror stories of how people have suffered from their bites, he gaily stated that they were both very common in everyone’s gardens, sheds and garages!
In the second half of his presentation, Johnnie started with images of butterflies and moths. He explained that he never uses traps or nets or bait to obtain his shots, preferring to find the insects in their natural habitat. He said he usually sets ISO to automatic although he doesn’t want to go above 800 on his DSLR and on smaller sensor cameras his limit would be 400.
Among the memorable images we were treated to in this section were a Green-Veined White on a dandelion seed head,(above left) a Ringlet enjoying sunlight after rain, a Common Blue on buttercups, and a White Ermine Moth with its fluffy crown.
Johnnie talked about the need to keep all of the insect in focus and sharp from wingtip to wingtip and with the background out of focus. Although he did admit that, for personal consumption, he had several images with cluttered backgrounds that he liked but judges wouldn’t. An example of this was an image of a Migrant Hawker Moth on blackberries. However, the majority of his images did have beautifully diffuse and uncluttered backgrounds.
His final section covered Damsels and Dragons and showed excellent images including Broad-Bodied Chasers, Blue-Tailed Damselflies with water lice attached, newly emerged damsel flies with shimmering wings, and darters in mating rings.
He told us that the Red Damselfly (right) is always the first to appear and that he has found Hairy Dragonflies in the same clump of reeds every year. He also had a wonderful of image of Pond Skaters showing the depressions in the water made by their feet. (left)
He rounded off an extremely entertaining evening by saying that, in order to obtain good images of insects, you need to get to know your location well and keep going back time and again. Get to know what insects will be around at what time of year and in what weather conditions. And he acknowledged the help he gets from his dog, Benson.
Following a number of questions from the audience, the chairman thanked Johnnie for a great presentation and led a warm round of applause. I would add that it is well worth visiting Johnnie’s website at johnnierogerbsphotography.com to view his wonderful images. DF