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Thu 1st February 2018
By Pat Bone
Blog Tags: News, Discovery Days, Botany Days, Research, Education
Jim's love of wildlife began at an early age, going walks with his dad, looking for bird nests, not to pillage but to observe.

During our early years together, scales covered my eyes, but gradually I began to share his interest, primarily in birds. Our birding travels were eroded by Silky Girl Number One who refused to travel long distances by car and of course we refused to leave dogs alone for hours on end. We needed to travel less.

Then we found butterflies. In fact we saw a Brown Argus on Walmgate Stray, York, in 2003, the first recorded in York for 200 years, rapidly followed by several other local sites. We hosted Butterfly Walks at York Cemetery. Delighted in the Painted Lady irruption of 1996. We counted and recorded for Butterfly Conservation Yorkshire. We planted our tiny garden for insects. No chemicals for us, soapy water will do the job.

And then it happened

7.30 pm, August 15th, 2005, the evening which changed my life and damaged our bank balance. We’d gone to Wheatlands, a privately owned, open to the public, nature reserve near York.

We had a camera, used only on full automatic. Neither of us knew how to work the wretched thing, it was all a mysterious mystery.

Then Joy showed me an image, still within her camera. It looked like a blade of grass – until she gradually expanded it, revealing masses of insect eggs.


I learned to use the camera's macro settings. The world of the tiny opened up to me. I began to SEE where previously I had only LOOKED. Things I hadn’t noticed before leapt out and screamed for attention. Two months later, on October 14th 2005, I took this photo of a bee feeding on a bramble blossom. I hadn’t realised how exquisitely beautiful a bee’s face is, how complex, the textures, shapes and colours.

Then there was the fly blowing a bubble. Why? How did he do it? Do ALL flies do this? What about other insects? And just exactly which fly, wasp, bee, hoverfly have I captured on camera? Things to learn, books to buy. Over the years, many subjects have claimed my attention & interest, none have snared me in quite the same way as insect photography, so deeply. Most have been passing fads. This is serious.

I didn’t understand any of the twiddly bits. My “technique” was point, click, hope, view, delete – sometimes it even worked. But I had fun, great fun.

Some one once told me macro is the easiest form of photography. That's not really true, but what a wonderful world is revealed when you try and even more when you manage to get it right.

Joy had no idea what she was starting that evening, and neither did Jim & I.

I am hooked

Now, several cameras, lenses, books, hours of reading, experimenting, failed attempts to move away from the tiny world later, I have a greater knowledge base, both of photography and insects. I remain frustrated that my images are not as good as I want them to be, frustrated that sometimes my camera can’t/won’t/doesn’t capture what I want it to. But still my interest prevails, my desire to learn more, to understand why, how, what, continues to grow. And now, nearly 12 years later, I realise that the more I learn, the less I know, but… I AM HOOKED

This was the beginning of my photographic journey and the growth of my great fondness for the insects we take for granted or abhor or try to annihilate with our sprays and toxins. They may be small, but they are essential to our existence and incredibly beautiful and complex.

Why didn’t I learn all this when I had world enough and time?