Nick Upton's picture

Dung flies and dung producers

Observed: 24th March 2012 By: Nick UptonNick Upton’s reputation in InvertebratesNick Upton’s reputation in InvertebratesNick Upton’s reputation in InvertebratesNick Upton’s reputation in Invertebrates
Dungflyandsheep
Description:

Two dung flies in their natural habitat. No points for identifying the source of the dung lurking in the background.

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Yellow dungfly (Scathophaga stercoraria) interacts

Comments

Refugee's picture

The old days

I can remember the days when there were cakes of dung that were covered in these flies. No dairy farms on my patch now though.
The producers look a little out of focus to put it mildly!

Refugee

Nick Upton's picture

Plenty of dung.. and the trials of macro photography!

There's still no shortage of dung in rural Wiltshire and no shortage of dung flies! As for the soft focus sheep - that's physics for you - something macro photographers come up against all the time! There's only one real point of focus for a lens (except for "aerial image lenses") and I chose to focus on the nearest fly, but wanted the impression of the sheep in the background - as a change to defocused grass. I could have gone for a slower shutter speed and more apparent depth of focus, but then the flies would have been shaky as this was hand-held, or a higher ISO and more noise.... always a juggling act.... Maybe a tripod to make a long exposure stable and a very still fly would give more depth, but these flies rarely stay still and I needed to get to dung level... I will keep experimenting...

Nick Upton, naturalist and photographer.

Refugee's picture

Coaxing

You are lucky. The crime rate on my patch excludes the use of a big camera and an awful lot of coaxing is needed for photos that are worth putting on with a pocket job.

Refugee

Nick Upton's picture

Rural idyll

Yes, it really makes a difference feeling safe when you have a small fortune in camera/lenses on show... and this was in a country park with just a few amiable dog walkers around. I have worked in some dodgy areas in the past and made a point of having a really beaten up case for my camera to help make it look worthless and never carried more than a few quid in my pocket! I gather that minicams can do some really good work, but you have to get really close (as I needed to for the fly/sheep shot, and working around dung has its own hazards...). Actually a friend asked for some advice on using minicams yesterday, and I came across this link which gives some tips on how to get the best results from them when doing macro. http://digital-photography-school.com/macro-photography-tips-for-compact...

Nick Upton, naturalist and photographer.

Refugee's picture

Hit and miss

I just take spare batteries that are cheap on the web but can go in the wrong way round and a big memory stick. Even my £99 job can cope with this and only has to have the date set again. I have done some reasonable macros with it.

http://www.ispot.org.uk/node/254123
If you hover the mouse pointer over the thumbnails you will be able to see the gaps in the sequence.

Refugee

Nick Upton's picture

Mini macro

Good work... Works really well when the flies are settled. You must be good at stalking!

Nick Upton, naturalist and photographer.

Refugee's picture

Take your time

The nectar is sticky enough that they get a sticky proboscis and you have have to do is make sure there is enough battery in the camera to keep it powered up for 10 or so shots and you have got it.
It took about half an hour for the Bee Flies.
I feel quite strongly that a small camera should be in every kit box that is carried with a big lens camera for the gill shots of fungi on the grounds that they are not that much bigger than a pack of lens wipes and it "saves" the specimen for anyone else whom wants a photo.

Refugee

Nick Upton's picture

More gear

Yes, I'd like to add one to my kit... Small, quick to use and maneuverable.

Nick Upton, naturalist and photographer.