Review - “Macro Photography in the UK” with Andy Sands, 20 Sep 2021

A review by Janine Scola - “Macro Photography in the UK” with Andy Sands, 20 Sep 2021
How many of us just ‘walk on by’ when we are out and about, or simply strolling in the woods not taking too much notice of the amazing events taking place close to our feet? This was an evening which highlighted, in a stunning array of images, just what we all miss by not really looking around.

Andy has been very keen on natural history from an early age and his wealth of knowledge was clearly evident during the evening. First up for our delectation were a varied selection of Weevils, Bees and Wasps, the markings denoting which one from the Red Tailed Bumblebee to the common Honeybee – amazing images and great background information on their habitats and how some prey on others to enable the next generation to enter our world!

Next was the delightful butterfly – here again Andy’s knowledge was imparted to us, in particular on the life-cycle of the Orange Tip from caterpillar, to pupae and how it can mimic at this stage to look like a thorn on the branch to which it is attached and then open up to its splendid coloured wings to start all over again. Further stunning images showed other butterflies in all their glory, particularly those captured with the early morning dew delicately lacing their bodies.

To end the first half, there were of course spiders – not everyone’s cup of tea, certainly not mine – or Jane’s! From jumping spiders to one enveloping its prey in its web for supper later – all perfectly captured (not literally!).

During the second half we took a woodland walk and of course, the various fungi that can be found. To the fabulous Magpie Inkcaps to the Caterpillar Club fungi, with its long slim red body – dig a little down into the earth and this can be found attached to a caterpillar, hence its name – amazing images. But it is not just a walk in the woods, it really is a question of ‘getting down and dirty’ and being able to catch the magical light on the ‘gills’ under the cap and the ‘ribbing’ on the stalks to appreciate this fairy-like world. We were introduced to the tiny Stump Puff Ball and with Andy’s patience and expertise, a superb image of it expelling its whirling spores into the air above. Not to miss out came the punk rocker – the Holly Leaf Fungi – imagine a small ping pong ball with punk rocker spikes over it on a long wiry stem – weird and wonderful at the same time!

We then entered the world of Slime Moulds, possibly seen by some, but not necessarily realised what they were – we do now. These appear on damp, rotten wood – a single cell ‘creature’ feeding primarily on bacteria in the rotting process. You will need your magnifying glass with you, but again beautiful images showing this life form – colours ranging from white and pale pink, deepening with speedy age to crimson and black – like tiny ice lollies - when they open up and their spores are released. Who knew this world existed beneath our feet?

All Andy’s photographs were taken in the wild, some additionally lit, others taken in natural light and with the aid of focus stacking* – pin sharp – oh how we all wish when we take our own images!

A fantastic evening which provided a greater understanding of natural history in the micro world, delivered by a photographer who is passionate of his subject matter and imparting useful technical information too – not to mention the stunning images.

All we have to do now is to get into the habit of really looking where we are putting our feet!

~ Janine Scola

* Focus stacking mentioned in Andy’s talk –zerenesystems.com