Photography is a love affair with life. Burk Uzzle
I had been taking photographs for almost two hours before I finally met up with Ann and Barry. They had got lost and despite two phone calls I hadn’t been able to guide them to Cornhill Meadow. One of the aims of the day was to photograph dragonflies at the sanctuary in Waltham Abbey. I arrived early and decided I would find the meadow and settle down to wait for the first sightings. Unfortunately as it was a rather grey, if humid morning, the damsels and dragons had decided they needed to lie in! I wandered around, meeting up with some of the RPS nature group who had hoped I’d found something interesting as they hadn’t. We all took pictures of bugs and the odd flower and I became interested in the abstract nature of web debris. Ann and Barry had entered the meadow from the opposite side and standing on a small bridge they had found damselflies in abundance. They were really too far away for my 300mm lens and despite some attempts the only creature I managed to get that was a bit different, was a mayfly, it was quietly dying alone on a reed.
A photograph is a click away. A good photograph is a thousand clicks away and a better one a million clicks away. Kowham Kumark
As we walked and talked Ann suddenly saw a wasp’s nest. Initially I was not too keen, having been stung on numerous occasions and the thought of a swarm scared me. Ann and Barry began taking pictures and we were joined by Dave from the RPS group. I sat on my little stool hoping they would fly over my head. It was a dark area, a very grey day and even knowing that the best wildlife photographers at Cambridge had used six flash lights and much bigger lenses to get their great wasp pictures, we were not put off trying to get a decent shot! Within minutes we all realised that we had hundreds of pictures of the hole itself and the odd blurred wasp but that was it! Barry got the very short straw as we asked him if he could cut away the grass in front of the hole that kept blocking our view. I had remembered the scissors for once and gingerly he began cutting away the small tufts. Some of the grass fell into the hole itself and I wondered what the wasps would do. Ann noticed that there seemed to be more wasps in the surrounding area than before, so we all moved back and they instantly flew into the hole. I was surprised they didn’t try to sting us for invading their space. We spent about two hours trying to capture them carrying mud and the fallen grass from their hole. It was very difficult and the pictures below are nowhere near the standard I would like to have achieved, but they do show some of their intimate world. I would love to have captured a sharp shot of the wasp at the end who seems to be flying for his life whilst carrying mud from the hole. He does look so comical!
By this time we were all hungry and started to make our way to the car park. We didn’t get far before we found butterflies and once again we stopped with the aim of capturing them in our lenses. Ann identified them and we clicked our shutters! Eventually we made our way to the White Water Centre for lunch. Having lost his group, Dave joined us. We sat on the huge balcony eating our jacket potatoes and imagining what it would have been like to have watched the water sports from there during the 2012 Olympics.
It looked so much fun, we abandoned the idea of taking pictures in the abbey and decided to stay and see if we could capture some of the canoeists and kayakers as they attempted to complete the Olympic course. We checked with the staff about the rules for taking photographs and they told us that we couldn’t sell the pictures and to stay behind the small chain fence. Having explained we were amateurs we set off to explore the best vantage points. It was rather strange going from wasps to white water. It looked exciting as they came crashing through the swirling water. I became interested in the expressions on their faces as they tackled the difficult course. Ann and Barry began taking slow shutter speed shots and liking the look of the kind of pictures they were achieving I asked Ann for the settings. Of all the pictures I took on this grey Monday, I like the slow shutter speed pictures best and wished I had taken many more. I like the abstract nature of them alongside the impression of speed and spray that they portray.
At the end of the day we were all tired and our arms ached from holding the heavy lenses and cameras in so many ‘fixed’ positions. It had been great fun and the unexpected bonus of wasps and white water had provided me with some great photographic challenges and with Ann’s help, I did get some pictures I really liked and one or two that made me laugh!