Tuesday 31 July 2012

Dramatic Photography

This is a brief round-up of images from a recent dress rehearsal shoot for the John Lewis Partnership Dramatic Society.
The run of Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones was performed at The Studio Theatre, Maidenhead in July, and directed by Peter Stallwood.

Once again, it was a pleasure to be asked to photograph this wonderful group, and as before, I can truly say that I enjoyed their performance of this less well-known play, even through the lens of my camera.

Felix Humble (Phil Coleman)

Mercy Lott (Mary Rutterford)

Flora Humble (Melanie Pyne)

Jim (Gerry Wilkinson)

George Pye (Barrie Armstrong)

Rosie Pye (Sophie Pierce)

Director (Peter Stallwood)

"Thanks very much, Celia, for these super images.
You have the ability (common to all great photographers) to isolate the moment exactly."

Peter Stallwood


Tuesday 24 July 2012

Southern Hawker Dragonfly

What did you do at breakfast time this morning?
My mouthfuls of breakfast were interspersed by taking frame after frame of an unfolding miracle birth. Here's why.

With the arrival of the summer weather (finally!) it has prompted some residents of our garden wildlife pond to move into the next phase of their amazing life-cycle. After re-establishing our pond around four years ago, we had been delighted that the dragonflies had chosen to lay their eggs in it shortly afterwards. Since then, we have been eagerly awaiting the day when the nymphs of the Southern Hawker dragonfly Aeshna cyanea, would crawl out at the end of their three years of maturing. Surviving by preying on other small creatures, such as tadpoles and other aquatic insects that live in the pond, we have watched as the tiny nymphs have grown bigger each year. Finally, on Sunday, we were excited to spot the signs that our first 'brood' were on the move, as empty nymph cases littered the sedge leaves.

So this morning, I set the alarm early and arrived at the pond-edge to find several new empty cases from those nymphs which had metamorphosed during the night, as is the nature of most of the Odonata family. However, there are always those that are the late risers and it was not difficult to find one such nymph. With the pond-edge being less than ideal to sit and photograph from, I make no apologies for then making life easy for myself. With one very restless nymph and a pot set up very quickly with a few blades of sedge I set myself up in my kitchen with nothing more than my little G12, and waited.

After a few attempts to climb the sedge, I watched as it finally clamped itself to a blade and started wriggling, followed very shortly by the splitting of the nymph case along the back of the thorax, almost missing the start as it happened so quickly.
And so the series of images began- needless to say it took rather a long time for me to finish my breakfast as the literally, unfolding birth that was happening in front of me was truly captivating. Even having watched the event before, it still never ceases to amaze me how such a stunning insect can emerge from such an aggressive-looking creature.

After around an hour and a half it had reached the stage shown above, and that is unfortunately, where I had to leave it for a while whilst I attended to other business. Carefully moving it to the safety of an (empty) old fish tank in a quiet corner of the garden, I left it in the drying out stage. Returning four hours later, I was pleased to find the transformation almost complete. Lifting the assemblage from the safety of the tank, the first wafts of warm summer air hit the wings of the female Southern Hawker and with that, gave a litle flutter and off she buzzed on her maiden flight.

Below are the series of images, and if they prompt just one adult or child to look out for and watch the amazing spectacle, then I will be very happy indeed. It should be experienced at least once in a lifetime.


Monday 23 July 2012

Thank You

After three years of use for Open Studios, five spot bulbs blew at once this morning as I began the tidy-up. After two weekends, the lillies have blown over too. I think this means it is time for a rest from Open Studios!

However, my grateful thanks goes to all those who visited this year (and previous years) and all those who were kind enough to purchase the mountains of greeting cards. I even had to do a second print run of my running hare image it proved so popular.
I appreciate all your support during times that are tough economically.

It was lovely meeting everyone, both the regulars and the new faces. Also, the art, design and photography students who came as part of their studies, and unlike some, I'm always happy to share the joy and enthusiasm of creativity and photography with them. Afterall, they are the future. Let's embrace them rather than alienate them - we all had to begin somewhere.

You may already be aware that I will not be taking part in Open Studios next year as I will have a very important and happy draw on my attention. However, this doesn't mean that I am giving up the photography - far from it.
Open Studios has been an excellent route back into the creative world that I had left behind before embarking on the joyous career of being a full-time mum, and which sadly, now too has come to an end. Photography and bookarts will continue to progress from here onwards, and if the recent increase in calls for commissions is anything to go by, then the three years at plugging away to re-establish myself has paid off. It hasn't always been easy and there were times when I thought I would give up but it is down to those who have believed in me that I am still here now. Thank you all.

I can't finish without saying a huge, huge thank you for all the support and patience from my better half and also our lovely off-spring. Love to you all- oh and not forgetting my lovely patient photographers assistant currently sleeping beside my desk.

And now, the house can transform back to normality...

Tuesday 17 July 2012

Bonking Beetles

How wonderful it was to get back out into the countryside yesterday for a nice long walk with mutt. Despite the moisture-laden air and the extremely muddy conditions underfoot, we took off on one of our favourite walks. Slugs and snails were immersed in puddles, a few ringlet butterflies did their best to dance above the ox-eye daisies and wasp beetles crawled over the damp flower heads in search of pollen. However, I watched one critter which was completely oblivious to the conditions we have struggled to call Summer.

It was business as usual for Rhagonycha fulva or the soldier beetle. A common sight on the umbellifer flowers of cow parsley during June and July, their behaviour has earned them the nickname 'bonking beetles' - for obvious reasons. This is all part of the circle of life for these 11mm long, orange-red coloured beetles as they often come to a sticky end - as a food source for Enoplognatha ovata

The comb-footed spider, with a 6mm long body will prey on flies and small insects. This particular variant flashed its magenta-red body stripe, and displayed a well stocked larder of flies and an unfortunate soldier beetle. Here, the dehydrated carcass resembled a sun-dried tomato but this formidable arachnid would need to be alert.

Panorpa comunis or the scorpion fly was on the prowl. With a 35mm wingspan, this fly scavenges on dead insects and can often be found stealing from the webs of spiders. Earning its name from the shape of the males tail, which curls over in a scorpion-like fashion, it is in fact, completely harmless and doesn't sting.

So, whilst mutt and me toddled off home for a lovely cuppa, the soldier beetles who had appeared to have survived the hedgerow gang-warfare, for now, toddled off on their merry way for a spot more bonking.