Tag Archives: Small Skipper

How to take Photographs (3 – Speed and Light)

This is where it gets a little bit intimidating.

I am a bit of a one trick pony. I photograph nature. My camera is nearly always hand held and everything moves so I have to be fast.

The first trick that I learnt was to drop my exposure a couple of clicks. On my first camera (Panasonic FZ50) I could do that whilst leaving the camera in intelligent auto mode.

It was the only thing that I knew how to do and I took these photographs.

Forest Shield Bug

Common Lizard

Speckled Wood ButterflyI was happy and encouraged. I took hundreds of pictures like these.

As long as you have got enough light then dropping your exposure a bit will give you a faster shutter speed and a sharper picture. I still think that this is a good trick for beginners and worth trying before you get into the more complicated stuff. If your camera will let you do that.

Unfortunately the fellow that I am writing this for can’t do that. In auto mode he has no control over exposure. (I have got his manual in front of me)

So how do you get speed?

Most cameras have got a Shutter priority option that allows you to set the speed as fast as you like. I can’t really figure out why. (Okay you can achieve motion blur but who wants that?) If you set your shutter speed too fast you will just get a black picture because there is not enough light for such a fast shot.

I always have my camera set to Aperture priority. I usually want the fastest shot that the available light will allow. So to get the fast shot I have to mess with the light not the speed.

Marmalade HoverflyWhat is an aperture? It is the hole that opens when your shutter opens and allows light into your camera, you can determine how big that hole is going to be. The bigger you let it be, the more light will get into your camera and you can take a faster picture.

The animal will move if you hang about 🙂

I want a wide aperture and by working in aperture priority rather than auto I can stop my camera from doing stupid things that I don’t want it to do.

How is this easy!!!

Well I am a one trick pony, remember? I always want a fast picture so I don’t have to keep changing things. I set my camera to Aperture priority and I set my aperture to f.2.8 and that is basically all that I do. It is just as easy as having my camera in auto mode 🙂

Okay the other thing that I do is that I play with the exposure constantly. That is the way that I control the amount of light that I am letting in but all that means is that I keep my exposure as low as possible (almost always underexposed) whilst still letting enough light in to  get a picture.

It is not very clever but it works for me.

Green Orb Spider

Small Skipper

White Plume MothThe down side of using a wide aperture is that it has a knock on effect on depth of field and what that means is that only a small area will be in focus.

Generally that is okay for what I do because insects are quite small.

You wouldn’t want big insects because they can be quite mean.

With big things like butterflies I sometimes struggle to get the whole animal in focus.

Red AdmiralBut sometimes that is okay.

So that is enough tricks for now.

If you want to explore aperture priority my friend then it is on page 82 of your manual.

You Are My Sunshine

Emotional Blackmail

Can Colin come out to play?

Go away it’s raining.

Whine, whine whine emotional blackmail.

Throw shoe out of window.

Is that you final answer?


Wet Fizz

Wet FizzI can’t do anything today. I can’t take photographs and I can’t bring happiness to the smallest heart.

She doesn’t have a heart, she is part of the me generation. Me Me Me! That makes her my sunshine.

Today I am going to take a retrospective look at what a lovely summer it was. Starting with Butterflies. Fizz and I had a good butterfly summer. Regular readers will have seen these pictures, I took them from my media library, new readers will never even have heard of Lord Tusk (Beloved of the Faeries) either way it is just a look back at a great summer and something to do while stupido dog splashes in puddles.

We had the best of summers.

Common Blues Mating

Common Blue Male

Common Blue Female

Small Tortoiseshell Larvae

Small Tortoiseshell

Small Tortoiseshell

Marbled White

Marbled White

Marbled White

Small Copper

Small Copper

Small Copper

Small Skipper

Small Skipper

Essex Skipper

Peacock Larvae

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock Butterfly

Peacock ButterflyIt hasn’t been a bad summer, has it Fluffy?

Not so far.


Small is Beautiful

I went out early this morning to try and catch the Butterflies napping.

I am after the Skippers. I want the photographs  that show the difference between a Small Skipper and an Essex Skipper.

A little Skipper.

sMALL sKIPPERThe difference is tiny. The very tip of the underside of the antennae is black in an Essex and orange/brown in a Small Skipper. You can only see it if you look at the animal face on.

Small SkipperIt is not easy getting close to them, never mind getting in their little faces.

Small SkipperI have been advised to hum to them to hold their attention. I was told a low almost inaudible hum but the only tune that I could remember when the time came was Wagners “Flight of the Valkyries” inappropriate perhaps and  it requires some gusto to do it properly but it was the only thing that sprang to mind as I crept up behind yet another of the little blighters.

Small SkipperGotcha!

Small SkipperOrange tip on the underside of the antennae. That is a Small Skipper 100% Small. Excuse me while I savour my triumph.

Small Skipper

Small Skipper

Small SkipperNow all that we have left to do is to catch an Essex, well, one is not much use without the other.

Fizz, fetch me my butterfly net.

Small Skipper (?)

Well I think this is a Small Skipper but the pictures are not good enough for me to be 100% sure. Let me explain why.

There are four species of little orange Skippers.

The Lulworth Skipper lives in Lulworth, Dorset and hardly ever travels and never more than a few miles from the coast. We can discount that one.

The Large Skipper we know well, it looks like this.

Large Skipper

It has a chequered pattern on it’s orange wings and importantly it has hooked tips to it’s antennae. We have to look at the antennae.

That leaves us only two options. This is either a Small Skipper or an Essex Skipper. They look almost identical.

Small Skipper

Small Skipper


Small Skipper

The difference between the Small and the Essex can be seen on the club of the antennae. On the Essex it is all black and on the Small the underside of the club is brown. You really have to get a picture from the front to see that clearly. I think that in this next picture there is obvious brown at the very tip of the antennae and that makes this a Small Skipper.Small SkipperBut I have shown these pictures to the experts and they won’t confirm that I am right which is usually a polite way of telling me that I am wrong or more exactly, that my pictures do not contain enough information for a positive ID.

B*gger. It has taken me ages to get these!

To make matters worse the Essex Skipper isn’t confined to Essex and the two species often fly together. Even if I get a positive photographic ID on one animal the next one could be something different.

These are little Skippers. I am not sure which one but I think that they are Small 🙂