Snakes not Dukes

This morning I had a few hours free to myself and my photography, so what to do and where to go?  At this time in Oxforshire it’s a toss-up between looking for nationally scarce spring butterflies or looking for local flowers.  The previous day’s weather forecast looked like it was going to scupper any plans whatsoever, since heavy rain and high winds were forecast for today.  Anyone who knows UK weather, however, learns to take it with a pinch of salt, so I waited to see what the morning would bring.  I awoke to a pleasant sunny, but rather breezy morning: the forecast hadn’t changed, but the weather hadn’t quite reached Oxfordshire yet, and didn’t look like doing so until lunchtime.  So I decided on a trip.  I had the option either of venturing East past Aylesbury to Ivinghoe Beacon in search of Duke of Burgundy butterflies – nationally pretty scarce, and starting to emerge this week – or travel south to Oxford to seek out the Snake’s-head Fritillaries which inhabit damp water-meadows by the Thames.  In the end the decision was quite easy – as I knew from last year’s visit, Ivinghoe Beacon is a pretty exposed sort of place so even with sunny weather the wind would have ruined any butterfly photography: so I decided on Oxford instead, and a first visit to Iffley Meadows south of the city centre.  After a good hunt around – the meadows were rather more dry than I expected – I found quite a number of flowers.  However, shooting was going to be more tricky than usual because of the wind which was now ± 20mph and increasingly gusty.  However, not to be deterred, I determined that if I shot wide open and went up to ISO 800 with my D3S I’d get pretty impressive shutter speeds for macro which would help to eliminate much of the subject movement I was experiencing, still without adding any noise into the shot.  Even with a plamp to steady the flower stem the thing was bobbing left and right pretty spectacularly.  Anyway, all came together in the end; I took a lot of shots using high-speed shooting with a cable release, between the more extreme gusts of wind…


Snake’s-head Fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris

Iffley Meadows BBOWT Nature Reserve, Oxford


Nikon D3S/200f4micro/cpl
ISO 800 1/1000 f/4.5


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