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Due to various members being sick over the weekend, Sian, James and myself were roped into a last minute day’s work on Saturday.  I am currently suffering from a cold, and therefore believe that the world is ending (who can blame me – I’m a man after all) and in my grumpy state I walked to  the lab to fire up the Fuji and start getting on with printing.

On my way in, I couldn’t help but enjoy the beautiful blue sky that Barbados was treating us to…it was fantastic…so much so that I rang Sian and told her to leave whatever she was doing to get outside and admire the cobalt blue we were being blessed with.  As I wandered down through the resort, grumpy and with my neck cocked back to admire the stratosphere, I couldn’t help but notice that our Frangipani tree on the golf course was looking a little under the weather.  It normally has bright green leaves and lovely white, four petaled flowers…but in this beautiful, post hurricane system sky, it looked dowdy and almost dead.

On closer inspection, it was not actually the tree’s fault, nor the weather’s.  It was being set upon by the only animal I have encountered that makes my old man look like a calorie counter.   It was teaming with Frangipani Caterpillars.

There were about twenty we could spot in total.  They are awesome.  the biggest ones were about 12cm long, and 2 cm wide, and they just chow down mercilessly on the leaves.  I was mesmerised by them.

Having seen the tree teaming with life, I ran to the lab and got things going, pinched the work camera (D7000 for those that care) and came to grab some snaps.

In the short time I was there, the bigger guys at the bottom of the tree quickly polished off a leaf each in the morning sun.  They were very wary of me though, and whenever I got too close, they would wag their heads angrily.  From what I have read, they will nip you if in a pinch, but they are completely harmless otherwise.  Their bright colouring is a warning to birds and other predators that they are poisonous….this is somewhat of a ruse – they themselves have no poison or venom, but the sap of the Frangipani tree is poisonous to predators without the digestive system of the caterpillars, and so their food provides them with all the protection they need from our feathered friends here on the island.

We use the D7000 at work solely for its incredible video performance, and I am training the guys how to get the most from it…needless to say, I felt obliged to film a little of what was going on, and thought I would bring the D700 and the tripod along later on in the day for some more time-lapse action.

Needless to say, all just a bit of fun, and many apologies about the camera shake, I didn’t have time to grab the tripod and longer lenses – I was covering people calling in sick after all.

At the end of the time lapse shoot (trust me to pick the one caterpillar that couldn’t polish off an entire leaf) the sun had come around beautifully, and just hit the caterpillars with that golden light.  These were taken with no flash, if you’ll believe it 😉

Overall I was pretty pleased with the shots…but I got increasingly frustrated with not being able to focus closer (Cue the wide eyed: “Baaaaa – bbbbyyyy, we need to get  a Nikon 105mm macro lens”)….but that’s for another day…

And yet again, my camera has led me to learn a bit more about the wildlife of this alien island…not too sure how often the Frangipani Caterpillars will come up in the local pub quiz, but every tid-bit we gleam, every fact we learn, makes being here feel a little less alien, and a little more like home.

Thanks for reading, and keep on snapping.

Ferg x

So, I have looooads of piccies to share with you today, which is crazy exciting, but the first thing I need to share is the big news that my little sister (in law, technically) Caragh is out here staying with us and it is AWESOME to have her here 🙂

Already she is putting up with my terrible mood swings, the constant cursing about work, the team and all the other boring stuff everyone goes through on a daily basis with good stead and (I hope) is having a good time.  Today we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset…there wasn’t much to report unfortunately due to the bad weather again, but we whipped out the umbrella and off camera flash to produce this corker:

It’s amazing; I have known Caragh for over 11 years now and it seems like only yesterday  she was telling me about the Tweenies* when I had picked her up from her primary school…Now she is all set to go to Sheffield Uni (can I get a whoop whoop from all the coal mining crew?) and looking absolutely stunning as a young woman.  I am also very excited to FINALLY meet her long term boyfriend Johnathan who will be joining us shortly here in Barbados, I can’t wait to meet the guy that can hold his own with Caragh…I already have the utmost of respect for him 😉

So anyway, back to piccies.  These last few days I have had an epiphany…So used to the smaller sensor of my D80, I have been used to shooting at relatively slow shutter speeds, hand held.  60th/50th or around there.  With a wide lens this is fine…with a 35mm on the D80’s smaller sensor you can just about get away with it, but on the FX sensor at 50mm opening the shutter for that long a time has been giving me a serious case of camera shake…I have been looking at my pictures thinking “Why so soft? This should be tack sharp”  The penny dropping could be heard in Alaska….what a clown shoes.  To show you what the hell I mean, I would like to share with you a few piccies of some dogs we were lucky enough to meet the other day.  Sian and I headed to an amazing property called ‘Fustic House’ at the North of the island.  I would love to show you some snaps, but it was a work thing and therefore I have no copyright and the project is not yet finished.  When it is up online, I shall gladly point you all in the right direction.

Anyway, it is an old plantation house and absolutely incredible.  I won’t try and describe it, because my lexicon can’t and won’t do it justice, just take my word for it – it’s amazing.  And it is owned by a lovely family who own a plethora of dogs.

And I love dogs.

 

Big time.

 

Needles to say, as soon as we had a natural break in filming, i whipped the D700 out and got these portraits…but see if you can spot where I went wrong:

In this shot, I was way, way too wide. (my aperture was too big) and you can see that the photo is not sharp because I was shooting at the fabled 60th of a second…fine when shooting 35mm – even 50mm on the dump D80, but inexcusably so on the D700 at 50mm.  It’s amazing how I still fall into these bad habits of compromise – I forget how powerful the D700’s ISO is…what I should have done was ramp the ISO to say, 4000 and shot at 200th and f8 at least.   To add insult to injury, I missed the focal point on the dog’s eye anyway…so a pretty dire attempt in all.

Sorry.

I like this one a lot more…the focus is right this time (thank God) and I have shot here at  a faster shutter speed…but I am still not happy that I shot so wide – I wish that I had less depth of field and more of the dog’s droopy expression in focus…

But, never one to be deterred by utter rookiness, I looked forward to my next great pet adventure, eager to try my new theory of higher shutter speeds and narrower apertures.  So when we headed down to the beach to watch the sunset (see, there was a point of me telling you that all thsoe paragraphs ago) we were met by our resident cats.

And I hate cats.

 

Big time.

 

But Sian’s family have an amazing black and white cat called Lucy who has slowly won me over in the recent years that I have got to know her…she is evil and sadistic and loves the fact that I am allergic to her and falls out of trees…deep down, it pains for me to admit that she is really quite quality.

Our resident cats on the resort are not the healthiest specimens..they are usually missing chunks of fur from fights, or carrying a litter and set to burst (seriously, how often can one cat be pregnant in a year?) but they are very friendly, and the ones who came over today were surprisingly photogenic.  Before the sun disappeared, I got one of this guy:

Which I was pretty proud of, and then we spotted this guy chilling out:


And then the sun disappeared…so Caragh got roped into holding flash for me whilst I got these three corkers:

…and to be honest, I am chuffed to bits with them.  So, a lesson well learned – if you take dump photos the first time round, don’t panic, just work out where you went wrong, and have yourself another go 🙂  It’s what I do almost ever day…

Thanks for reading guys.  Keep on snapping.

Ferg x

 

*The Tweenies was a terrible kids show that ran in the UK for a long time…they were dump.