A blog about what I love….photography and bicycles!

karkloof farmers market

Recent close ups of butterfly larvae, adults and others!!

I have recently been breeding a number of butterflies and been able to either get macro images of the larvae or of the adult. This first photograph is of Charaxes candiope, the Green Veined Charaxes, third instar larva. The head shield is approximately 5mm accross. This was shot with the MPE 65 @ 2x

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These next two photographs are head shots of Junonia oenone, the Blue Pansy. I bred a number of these recently and was able to take a number of photographs of the head of the butterfly as this one was drying its wings. These two were taken with the MPE 65 3x

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This final photograh is a robber fly, not the classic full frontal that I wanted but still OK. This was also taken with the MP65 at 2x

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Back at last!!

After a rather hectis three weeks of packing, moving house, unpacking and trying to get all my butterfly collection, cycads and other plants safely into their new home I am finally able to post these images of a lynx spider and ant, the first crawlies found at my new house.  All shot with the MPE.  Nothing more now, I have an exam tomorrow but will post more little creatures from my garden soon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Chasing bees with the new Canon MPE 65 Macro Lens

 

Since the purchase of the Canon MPE 65 and the twin flash set I have been having a lot of fun learning how to get the best out of the setup. Last weekend I chose to continue chasing bees.  Nice and big and interesting subjects.  I was able to get a few co-operative little fellows and here are the results.

One thing that you have to remember with this flash and lens setup is if there are deep backgrounds they will be black (no light) so choose the subject (and backdrop) carefully.

MPE 65 1.5 x f 13 flash (1/250)

MPE 65 2 x f 13 flash (1/250) 75% crop (25% off)

MPE 65 1.5 x f 13 flash (1/250) 75% crop

MPE 65 1.5 x f 13 flash (1/250) 75% crop

MPE 65 1.5 x f 13 flash (1/250) 75% crop

 

 


The Kiln Gallery has a new Exhibitor

It has been a while since we had a new exhibitor at the Kiln.  Sarah van der Bank is not exhibiting at the Kiln building yet but her work is available on the Kiln FaceBook page and may be ordered directly from us.

Sarah is a born and raised Midlands lady. She grew up and was schooled right here in Howick and now lives in the Mkhuze Game reserve with her conservationist husband, Lance, and young son, Meryck.  Here is a taister of some of Sarah’s work. 

Like most of us at the Kiln, Sarah’s work may also be viewed and purchased through The PictureBox in Pietermaritzburg www.picturebox.co.za


Charaxes candiope candiope, the Green-veined Charaxes – Life History

Charaxes candiope candiope, the Green-veined Charaxes, is a common visitor to gardens here on the East coast of South Africa.  I planted the foodplant, Croton sylvaticus, in my garden five years ago.  The two that I planted have struggled due to the winter frosts.  While living on Botswana I noted them laying on another species of Croton. Anyway, I have seen the butterfly breed successfully on my trees for the last three years and finally decided to photograph it this year.

In March this year I found a number of eggs on may trees.  I gave a number to my friends, Stephen Woodhall and Harald Selb, and then bred the balance though.

The eggs are laid as singletons (very occattionally two) on the upper side of the large Croton leaf.  They are approximately 2mm in diameter and butter yellow on being laid.

After about 24 hours the egg gets the typical brown ring showing that it is fertile.

After about five days the first instar larva emerges.  The first meal is the egg shell.  This little chap is about three mm long on emergence.

After four days the larva has its first skin shed.  The second instar larva has the first dorsal spot.

After a further six days the next shed takes place.  At the shed the larva measures about 14 mm long. After the shed the larva has two dorsal spots and a rather fantastic head shield.  The next blog I post will be the head shields of this insect (which are spectacular).

After a further seven days the larva sheds again to become the spectacular fourth instar larva. Watch the next blog for head shield shots, this one is superb.

Again it only takes a week for the fourth instar larva to fatten up and shed its skin.  The larva is about 35mm long at the shed. The fifth instar is large, after 14 to 21 days of eating it reaches 50 to 60 mm in length and gets ready to pupate.

The larva finds a quite spot and spins a silk pad, hooks in (with anal hooks) and begins the pupation process.  This lasts three of four days afterwhich it sheds its skin and pupates.

The pupa, the incredible stage preceding the butterfly.

After three weeks the pupa begins to “colour up”, the stage when you can see the wing and body colouring appeat through the pupa.  Withing 12 hours it emerges.  The insect below is a female.  The males below.

Male Ch candiope candiope

Please watch this blog for the post of head shields, they are spectacular.


The miracle that is a butterfly….

 I have, over the last 20 years, bred many thousands of butterflies and am always blown away by the metamorphosis of lavae through pupa to butterfly.  I am currently breeding about 5 species.  A while ago I posted the life history of one of our Hairtails (Anthene).  Two days ago I discovered the larvae of our African Monarch, Danaus chrysippus aegyptius, feasting on my Stapeliads.  After a bit of a look I found a pupa colouring up.  I had great fun photographing the larvae, pupae and emerged adult.  So, not to bore you all with test, here are some of the photographs.

Final instar larva of Danaus chrysippus aegyptius (The Arfican Monarch) feasting on the leaves of Stapelia hirsuta, a carrion plant from the Eastern Cape.  The egg of this larva was laid, and initially fed on Adenium multiflorum (The Impala Lily) but went onto the Stapeliad when it has flattened the Adenium.  The larva is brightly coloured as a warning to birds that it is poisonous.

Pupa of D chrysippus aegyptius colouring up.  Note the wings, abdomen, eyes and antannae clearly visible.

Male D chrysippus aegyptius newly emerged from pupa.

Male D chrysippus aegyptius f. liboria, side view.

Male D chrysippus aegyptius f. liboria upper side.


Rocksitters in March.

Here in KwaZulu Natal we have two members of the genus Durbania.  Members of the species Durbania amakosa fly throughout the Eastern region, from the coast right up to 2500m is suitable areas.  They are also mid summer insects, emerging in November on the coast and later at higher altitudes.  Our localised Durbania limbata is a bit of an anomoly, it flies in late summer.  Mid March is the best time to find it.  A few weeks ago my old friend Harald Selb visited us from Cape Town and Steve Woodhall, Clive Curtis and I spent a day butterflying in the midlands with him.  I did not take him to the D limbata spots as I thought we may be too early.  Instead we visited the forests nearby and Woodridge.  A week later Clive and I visitied the old “Pennington spot” at Curries Post above Yellowoods.  Clive wanted HD video footage and I have to say that, despite having bred the insect from larvae found on the rocks had never seen it live.  So Clive and I visited the old spot.  After introducing ourselves to the owner we walked over to the colony (with his over active dogs in tow…..anyone who has ever tried to photograph butterflies will know that a bouncing, loving labrador is not a great help when trying to focus on a butterfly at 20cm).  We wondered around and saw very little apart from a very territorial Spialia spio.  I checked the rocks and found loads of old pupal cases but no insects.  After 1/2 an hour of searching I was beginning to think we were to late and then Clive saw a D limbata.  That was it, over the next hour we saw loads.  Along with the D limbata were what have to be the most frustrating butterflies on the planet to photograph, Stygionympha wichgrafi, they rarely site and when they do it is for a second or two.  I have a hard drive of in flight escape shots!!  I got one relaxing.  All that said, I feel that if we had stopped with Harald we would have seen them.  Pity but good reason for him to come up again next March.  Here are a few photos of the day.

Spialia spio, the Mountain Sandman

Spialia spio, the Mountain Sandman

Spialia spio, the Mountain Sandman underside

Spialia Spio, the Mountain Sandman, underside.

Stygionympha wichgrafi, Wichgrafs Brown.

Durbania limbata, the Natal Rocksitter.

Durbania limbata, the Natal Rocksitter.

Durbania limbata, the Natal Rocksitter.

Clive Curtis videoing D limbata.

Clive Curtis doing his thing.


The Kiln Gallery has a new Artist, Tess Reid

This month Tess joined us at the Kiln.  A few of her words and then a number of images :

“Born in 1971 and raised in Durban, South Africa, I had an interest in art from a young age. I grew up next to two well know artists and teachers, Jeff and Pascal Chandler who helped to encourage my interest in the Arts. My father was artistic too and loved doing portraits & designing furniture.
I pursued art throughout my schooling and studied Interior Design at college where I was introduced to photography. This has continued to interest me as I enjoy spending time capturing the images for my art works. After completing my training, I designed wrought iron furniture and learnt a lot about proportion.
I moved to Zimbabwe in 1994, got married and lived and worked there until 2003 before moving back to Durban to work for Architects in the Interior Design field. At the end of 2010 my family and I moved to Howick, for a change of lifestyle and to pursue my passion for art full time. My inspiration is God’s Creation … seen through the love of a child or the beauty of a delicate flower. I capture these special moments in time and portray them in my art.”

Conversation

“Conversation – 1010mm x 765mm – R 5700.00”

“Wheelbarrow – 400mm x 300mm – R 1250.00”

“Lantern – 250mm x 355mm – R 910.00”

“Burgundy blossom – 400mm x 305mm – R 1250.00”


South Africa’s largest butterfly, Papilio ophidicephalus phalusco, the Emperor Swallowtail, Life History

The largest butterfly in Southern Africa is, without doubt, the Emperor Swallowtail (Papilio ophidicephalus). The insect is found throughout the mist forests in Southern Africa (through into East Africa). In South Africa we have a number of sub-species, ssp phalusco is found in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal as far north as Greytown, ssp zuluensis in the Eshowe area, ssp ayrsi in the Northern KZN into Southern Mpumalanga, ssp transvaalensis in the Drakensberg and Wolkberg Notrh of the Oliphants river and ssp entabeni in the Soutpansberg way up there in the Limpopo Province. There are a number of other ssp including the nominate further North but we shall stick to ssp phalusco, the one that I know most intimately myself being an inhabitant of their range.
Before I carry on, this post shall not go into detail regarding the length and duration of the instarts (period between skin sheds), as this has all been documented at length by the likes of Clarke and van Son. Instead I shall discuss what I observed during the short eight weeks of the cycle from egg to adult.
My old friend Clive Curtis has always been very pationate about butterflies.  We have travelled all around the province together colelcting and breeding butterflies and he is currently working on a DVD about South African Butterflies (www.safarivision.com). Part of the work toward this is documenting the life histories of a particular species in each family. Clive chose the most spectacular of our swallowtails (P ophidicephalus phalusco) as one focus species to breed. He captured a female in the Karkloof had her lay about 20 eggs and past 15 on to me to breed at home.
The Papilionidae (swallowtails) are spectacular insects. All South African readers will know the Orange Dog (Papilio demedocus demedocus) or Green Banded Swallowtail (Papilio nireus lyaeus) from their gardens. These two breed on, amongst other plants, the Citrus species such as lemon, grapfruit and orange trees. Our species, the largest of all, is a far more selective eater. It eats a plant known as Clausena anisata (known as Perdepis in Afrikaans, loosely translated as Horse pee due to its smell when you crush the leaves). Anyway, the first stage of the life history is the egg. Eggs are laid lingly on leaves of the foodplant. The eggs are circular, cream coloured and between 1 and 1.5mm in diameter.  It takes the little larvae take about five or six days to mature to eclosure or larval emergence. Just prior to the little larva breaking out of the egg it darkens up. Upon emerging from the egg the larva has its first meal, the old egg shell. To gat an idea of size the larva is approximately 2mm long on emergence. So, to photos, the first photo is of the egg while the second is of the young larva eating the egg shell.

 

OK, after the little creature eats its shell it settles into life as a butterfly larva.  This is a dangerous life, birds, robber flies and spiders want to eat you, wasps and flies want to sting you and lay their eggs in your little body and have their babies grow in you (while you are still crawling around and eating).  You are not equiped with very much to evade these hazards, you cannot crawl fast but you can hide.  From the moment that these little larvae start to eat they begin to look like a piece of bird dropping.  From the first to the fourth instar they larvae look like a bird dropping.  They stay on the leaves, eating, growing and shedding skin until, after approximately four weeks they reach the final instar that is different.  Of interest is that, during the third and fourth instars, the larvae rest with a slight twist to their body (see the photos below).  Anyway, here are photos of the second, third and fourth instars.

 

The final instar is very different.  Rather then resting on the leaves they spend their sleeping time at the base of the tree or branch.  This means that they no longer need to resemble something grim like a bird dropping and are supprisingly different with beautiful green and brown patches on the skin.  The lumps and bumps are still evident (indeed into the pupal stage).  Of interest, the Papilio butterflies have a defensive mechanism, a foul smelling structure known as the ostometrium that it pops out of its head when threatened. As said they smell foul and obviously tell all attackers that they are not a pleasant tasting meal at all.  Below are a number of photos of the final instar (and a couple with the mutters with their ostometrium exposed)

The most magical of all butterly larval stages has to be larva to pupa to butterfly.  After 7 to 14 days as fifth instar larvae they get nice and fat and  lethargic.  The process of change begins.  They slip off and find a safe place to spend the next two or three weeks as a vulnerable pupa.  The Papilio butterflies all have a girdle holding the pupa in place.  Like most other butterflies they spin a silk pad which that they attach themselves to (by anal appendages known as cremaster hooks).  They also spin a girdle which is a little like you undoing your belt and slipping it around a branch and the fixing it.  It allows you the spend your pupal stage, head up leaning back.  The pupa is splendid, rather like a twig with a bit of lichen underneath.

Finally, after two to three weeks (and longer during winter) the adult emerges.  Not much more can be said of the butterfly, most people have seen it.  It is safe to say, and an awful cliche, that, like most jouneys the destination is great but the route is enlightening.  The path to adulthood of these beautiful butterflies is full of risk.  The response is a wonderful evolutionary result where larvae and papae are beautifully cryptic.  Below are shots of a freshly emerged male.

 

Anyway, I must conclude by saying that if you want to see these butterflies, it is easy.  All you need to do is get into open spaces within the mist forests on a sunny day in Summer (peak in November/December and again in March/April) and you will see them flitting around.  An old trick is that they love the colour red.  About 20 years ago I purchased a car for its colour, a bright red VW, and it was perfect to attract Papilio butterflies (especially P ophidicephalus and P euphranor) to come closer.


A dash up the Bushmans Neck

A few weeks ago I sent an email out to my friends inviting them to join me on a dash up Bushmans Neck to photograph Chrysoritis orientalis.  A lot of interest and very little commitment was shown as the hill is very steep.  Eventually two of us went.  My old mate Clive Curtis, a professional hunter who can walk for a week before he starts panting and myself.  I collected Clive at 05h30 from his house and we headed to Bushmans Neck.  After a very misty drive we signed in at the Ezemvelo Gate and started the walk.

The path to the colony goes straight up the main ridge above the hotel, it is very steep and in some places precipitous on either side.  On the way up we came across a small colony of Aloeides oreas.  One particulary fresh male allowed us time to photograph him. 

  Clive has started a stock video company (linked to his hunting video business http://www.safari-vision.com/) and was able to get a lot of footage of this little chap.  From here (about half was up) we dashed to the top.  It took spot on an hour from the car park to the colony.  I have visited the colony on a number of occations.  Some on my own, once with Clive (where we had to sprint off the hill to avoid the huge lightning storm that appeared from Lesotho) and also once with Alan Heath where I found the larvae and Alan was able to breed the insect.  Needless to say we walked the colony flat.  We saw one very ropey female and nothing else.  I suggest that we were far to late for the brood and should head up there again in October and November next year.  That said we found two colonies of rocksitters on top.  The species amakosa of the genus Durbania has been split into a number of subspecies.  I collected a number of specimens from this locality 16 years ago and showed them to Steve Woodhall.  They were nothing like our local insect, Durbania amakosa natalensis.  I thought they were closer to the nominate amakosa however the red/orange patterning on the wings was far more extensive.  Since then we have bred them from three localities and I am fairly sure now that they deserve subspecific status.  Anyway, here are two males found in the upper colonies.

Again Clive got loads of footage of these.  We then set off down the hill to see what we could find in the Proteas.  Not long after entering the Protea stand we cam accross a male Capys alpheas, a butterfly whose larvae feed on the flower heads of Proteas.  In the Proteas we also found more rocksitters.  Further down the hill we came across a number of skippers.  Spialia skippers have always confused me and here we had two of the 10 odd species.  Anyway, I got home and IDed them (with confirmation from Steve Woodhall and skipper guru Johan Greyling).  We found two, Spialia mafa and S asteroidia.  I got a number of photos and Clive some video footage.

And finally a few candid shots of Clive photograhing the Spialia int he photograph above and on the walk home.

We got to the bottom absolutely famished and Clive treated me to lunch preceded by a iced lolly, one of those lollies where the packet should read “defrost and add 5l of water”, it was sweet but exactly what we needed.  The usual conversation on the way home was a little less enthusiastic than usual as we were both rather tired.  It is a hard climb and my cycling legs struggled!!


Decembers invited artist

Things have been pretty wild for the last few weeks getting the Agric Hall going anf people have been asking me whats happening for December.  Well December is here and the first person who will be in for the period Dec/Jan is Steve Bailey.  Steve is an award winning Eastern Cape based photographer.  A brief bio follows as do a number of photographs but please visit Steve site www.stevebailey.co.za for more information.

This December we hope to see Allen Hallett return to the Kiln after a very successful exhibition in Gaborone.

An now a brief bio :

“Steve Bailey was born in Liverpool, England and moved to Southern Africa when he was 10.
He has always had a passion for Photography – eventually studying Graphics/Photography, obtaining a City and Guilds Diploma in Graphic Reproduction.
He spent 25 years in Zimbabwe before moving to Cape Town, South Africa. He is now resident in Bedford in the Eastern Cape”, and a few photographs…..

  


Sharon Weaving exhibits at the Kiln.

 A few weeks ago University of Natal art student, Sharon Weaving, approached Fran to use the Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers Market as a venue for the examination of her work.  So, for the next week the Kiln is hers and her examiners.  Next Saturday we will be back in and her work will be on view along with ours.

So, before I post photographs a short blurb on Sharon….

I have always been passionate about art and craft. Whether ceramics, beadwork or knitting I find that creating with my hands is exciting, fulfilling and therapeutic.  My passion stems from my Mom’s love for all handcrafts and the enjoyment she derives from experiencing a new craft and passing on her knowledge.  I am excited to hear about the activities of new craft movements currently on the go.  These are worldwide initiatives motivated by like-minded artists / crafters, young and old, encouraging people to appreciate all that is handmade.  I think this is wonderful as these movements promote the ‘funky’ aspects of craft, and how contemporary art and craft can be used in development, activism and therapy.  I believe that art and craft are such an important part of life and should be promoted as such.   

I was first introduced to ceramics by attending underglaze painting classes which later progressed to running a ‘ceramic-painting’ studio from home.  My passion for ceramics continued and I decided to study a BA (Visual Art) at UKZN, followed by Honours and Masters majoring in Ceramics.  I started hand-building with porcelain in my Honours year, demonstrating an exploration of texture and translucency in my work.  My ideas progressed further with the piercing of the vessel surface to create shadows.

The casting of shadows continued into the body of work that I now present.  I started making geometric structural forms which were dipped in paper porcelain and fired to 1200˚C.  The fired structure assumed a soft, organic quality in its slumped state which I found appealing, and continued to play with this element of ‘chance outcome’.  Whilst working with these forms I discovered that I wanted to achieve a greater organic quality of form and decided to make the frames myself to have more command over the final product. 

Countless test pieces later I discovered the composition of material, process and clay body suitable to create my recent works.  Each piece is individually crocheted, dipped into an ‘engobe’ and dried over a mould.  Once dry, the pieces are fired to 1200˚C, burning away the crochet cotton , leaving a hollow, fragile, porcelain structure each of which casts its own unique delicate shadow.  I am very excited to have been able to use an age-old craft such as crochet in an unconventional manner thus illustrating that there is a place for time-honoured crafts in contemporary ceramics and other art forms.

 And now, photographs of Sharons ceramic work as well as a few “working” photographs firing in the Kiln…..

Frames

 

Nest

 

Nest

 

Crochet

 

Crochet

Cylinders

 
And now a few photographs of Sharons work in the Kiln (the real one baking them)
 

Firing the ceramics

 

Firing the ceramics 2


The Kiln at the Howick Agricultural Hall

Hello All

Again it has been a mad week with exams, work and getting the new gallery ready for opening.  That asside Fran and I are nearly there and ready to have the gallery open next Saturday (the 12th).  We will be sharing a room with Senqu at the Agric Hall in Howick.

To date the people exhibiting will be : Author and photographer Steve Woodhall, well known nature photographer and author Roger de la Harpe, Aritsts Denise Beuck and Andre de la Rosa, photographers Toni le Roux, Fran Simmons and myself.  We are hoping that sculpture Allen Hallett will confirm as will Peter Wickham, Doug and Deryck Morton and Cheryl Logan.

Tony Thomson, local Amber valley resident and artist, will man the gallery and paint during the week. 

This gallery, like the one at the Farmers Market, has been established as a showpiece for local artists and photographers.  You will not find a selection of Midlands material as diverse and unique as this anywhere else so stop off and have a coffee, say “Hi” to Tony and have a look.  I am sure that you will like what is to be seen.

And now some photos of material that will be on display (apologies for those who follow my blog as a few of these will be repeats).

The first photograph is Toni le Roux’s.  Toni entered this into the “Natural History” category of the N3TC competition this year and won the category!!

 

Nhlozane Dusk

and another of Toni’s that was runner up in the Landscape category in the same competition.
Kenmo Lake in Autumn
Next we have a very well known and popular Howick and Kiln artist Andre de la Rosa….
 

Fence Post

 

Fruit

 Next we have Steve Woodhall.  Steve is the president of the Lepidopterists Society of Africa and author of a number if books on butterflies (all of which will be available at the Kiln)

The Oxe Eyed Pansy

 

The Coastal Tip (one of my favourite butterflies!!)

Thats it for now.  I shall post some of Fran, Denise and other folks material later this week.  We all hope to see you at the Gallery and please spread the WORD about the Kiln Gallery!!

The Kiln Gallery at the Karkloof Farmers Market and soon to be at the Howick Agricultural Hall as well.

I have not posted for a while, mainly because I have been away in the Northern Province and further working rather hard with Fran and Doug getting our new venture going. The new one is another Gallery. Doug and Fran started the Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers Market and two months into it we were approached by Laurence Hancock, a local farmer and business man, about establishing a permanent exhibition at the Howick Agricultural Hall. This was to be open 7 days a week which would help us enormously. Anyway, we have been getting printing done, sorting out painting and trying to employ people. Hence no posts.

Oh, and I forgot to add, if you have not been to the Kiln FB page then do, and like it and you will be kept up to date with all the goings-on. See http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Kiln-Gallery/192143797488771

The new gallery opens its doors on the 12th November so we hope to see everyone there!! Anyway, to close off a few pictures. Bye!!


Visiting rare mountain butterflies, The Drakensberg Daisy Copper (Chrysoritis oreas)

This last weekend Steve Woodhall, Michael Purves and I decided to hike up Bulwer Mountain to attempt to find and photograph the Drakenberg Daisy Copper, Chrysoritis oreas.  This insect was first discovered by South African butterfly legend Ken Pennington on the higher slops of the Drakensberg in Loteni area.  A few people visited the spot and collected specimens however I do not know of anyone who knows where this type locality is.  In the 1980’s Clive Quickleberge and my old friend Wolter Kaspers were on the Bulwer Mountain when Wolter presented Clive with a little copper that he had caught.  It was the Drakensberg Daisy Copper and Bulwer mountain is the only known locality besides the type.  I have visited the mountain a number of times.  The butterfly holds particular significance for me as the day that I trekked back from my first hike up the mountain was the day that I met my wife, Tracey.  In 1997 I visited the mountain with Alan and Jenny Heath, Tony Brinkman and Tracey.  On this trip Alan identified the foodplant (Thesium sp), the ant and got to breed the butterfly for the first time.

Saturdays trip was to secure a series of digital photographs of the insect, live and in habitat.  Steve had photographed the butterfly on film once before.

We left Howick a little late as Steve was caught in traffic but got to the town of Bulwer in good time.  The drive up to the Paragliding launch spot was a lot rougher than I remember and the climb a lot steeper.  Steve was fighting off the last of a chest cold so we took it slowly.  After an hour we were up on the ridge below the colony.  There we came across Penningtons Protea (Capys penningtoni) hilltopping.  This is another rare butterfly endemic to this area.  Like other members of the genus this insect breeds on the heads of protea flowers.  In the case of Penningtons Protea the foodplant os the widespread Protea caffra.  After unsuccessfully trying to photograph the Penningtons Protea we wondered over into the habitat of the little copper.  After a hour of searching we had found nothing but a few ragged Penningtons protea and a very weather-beaten Mooi River Opal (Chrysoritis lycegenes).  Eventually there was a yell from Steve, he had seen one.  Typical of these insects that live on the top of a windy hills, they fly low and shelter in the grass.  Steve had found a female, we followed her and she barrelled into a tuft of grass.  I was able to get a photograph before she shot off not to be seen again.  About half an hour later, after searching the area and finding nothing but a few Penningtons coppers (Aloeides penningtoni) Steve again saw a female.  This lady was a lot more co-operative and we all got a number of upper and underside shots.  While this was happening I noticed something dart onto an Osteospermum flower.  It was a male and it gave me enough time to get a number of photographs.  All in all we estimated that there were five specimens in the area.  All very fresh meaning we must have hit the begin of the brood.  Before leaving we were able to induce a female to lay a few eggs for Steve to take home to photograph and breed.

The hike back was tough but made easier by our success.  It was good to again make the acquaintance of this beautiful and very rare insect.


An early introduction to our invited artist for November, Steve Woodhall

Our invited photographer for November 2011 will be Steve Woodhall.  A short blurb on Steve follows but, having known Steve for some 20 years would like to add my 10c.  I met Steve on the Makhatini Flats in 1991, we were looking for a very rare butterfly that had only once been seen in SA when Steve Woodhall pitched up and introduced himself. 

Over the years I have been on a number of butterfly trips with Steve and learned a lot from him and can say that he is a very enthusiastic butterfly person and very generous with his knowledge as well as his very obvious skills with the camera and photoshop.

Since joining the Lepidopterists Society of South Africa he has travelled the Southern African region extensivly, has become aquanted with most of its butterflies and has photographed a great many of them. A result of his travels and interest in butterflies has resulted in his publishing three books on butterflies and he is now Chairman of the Society.  His book “Field Guide to the Butterflies of South Africa“, published by Struik,  is a must for the bookshelf of anyone interested in South African fauna and flora.

And now, in Steves words…..

My name is Steve Woodhall and I specialise in photographing butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) and their biology.

I was born in 1957 in northern England. At primary school I was lucky to have a teacher who was a keen lepidopterist take me ‘under his wing’. My closest childhood friend went off with his family to live in Tanzania and started sending letters home, and butterflies. I became hooked on the whole idea of Africa and could not wait to get out there.

I had to wait until 1980 when I was transferred to SA by my firm. Having had some photographic training in my job, although qualified as a chemist I was keen on art.  So in my evenings I studied under Bill Ainslie at the Johannesburg Art Foundation. My childhood interest in butterfly collecting returned and in 1986 I joined the Lepidopterists’ Society of Africa.

My photographic exploits eventually led to writing ‘Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa’ for Struik. Whilst doing this I learned digital photography and desktop publishing.

My aim is to take photographs that capture the natural behaviour of Lepidoptera. Simple, eye-catching images are my aim, with a well-lit yet out of focus background that complements the main subject.”


News from The Kiln

We at the Kiln have wanted to open for 7 days a week for a while.  Last weekend we were approached by a local businessman who offered us space in his property on a tourist route.  We are talking to other exhibitors to join us and we have a number of exciting new people who may join us.  That is all for this week as there is a lot of work to be done.  So, cheerio and here are a few photos that we hope will be housed at the exhibition, if they are not there then they will be at the Karkloof Farmers Market.


Our first guest for October is Allen Hallett

Ten years ago my wife Tracey and I purchased a beautiful little bronze warthog as a gift from the family for my father in law, Dave Hoidge’s 60th birthday.  It was just like any naughty warthog, brown, tail in the air and full of attitude.  It was the creation of Allen Hallett.  The Kiln in very proud to have Allen exhibit for October.

Details of Allen and his work may be found on his web site www.allenhallett.com . A little about Allen… and then some photographs of his work..

Allen grew up in the  highlands of Kenya which were at that time teeming with Elephant, Giraffe, Buffalo and all the other plains game.  His school holidays and any spare time were spent either hunting or fishing in the surrounding areas and it was at this time that a deep interest of Africa’s Wildlife was nurtured.

 On leaving school he moved to South Africa and joined the Natal Parks Board and went on to become a senior game ranger in the wildlife reserves of Zululand and had the opportunity to study Africa’s wildlife first hand.  During his years in the African bush he had numerous encounters with dangerous game.  It was while on a photographic safari in the Okavango Delta that Allen and his party’s boat was overturned by a “rogue” Hippo.  They were very lucky not to have been seriously injured and have lived to be able to recount the story of their close shave with death!!

 Allen has also undertaken several commissions throughout Southern Africa and many of his edition pieces are in private collections throughout the world.

Allen’s reputation as a wildlife artist is rapidly growing internationally, with successful sales at Christie’s of London.

 He was recently selected by the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation to contribute a piece of his work to be auctioned by Christies’ along with several world renowned wildlife artists to assist the cause for conservation.

 He now lives and works in the magnificent Natal Midlands, and undertakes many field trips to inspire his creativity.


And now “The Kiln’s” second permanent exhibitor, co-founder Doug Morton

Before this post, please keep your eyes open regarding what we are going to be doing, Doug has some very interesting and exciting plans and we are planning a number of specifically Kiln activities. Also do not forget that it is the Karkloof Farmers Markets birthday in two weeks so on the 24th September they will be having their birthday market. So keep watching and now for my post…………..

After introducing our first permanent exhibitor and co-founder, Fran Simmons, now it is time for our other first permanent and co-founder, Doug Morton, in his own words……………………

Born in Pretoria in 1947, Doug was introduced to the bush at the age of four years when his family moved to Cullinan, near Pretoria. He preferred the veld to anything that school had to offer, and learned to hunt fearsome butterflies, observe everything around him, to run away from snakes and to treat all wildlife with respect. He developed a deep and lasting love of birdlife. By the time he and Terri married in 1969 Doug had been trained as a combat photographer in the SA Defence Force. He’s retained some of that expertise and now spends every available moment with his digital camera in hand, recording the people and the flora and fauna of South Africa. He’s ardent about nature and conservation, and hopes his efforts contribute to the environment for the enjoyment and education of all South Africans. He and Terri live in Pietermaritzburg, as do their son Deryk, his wife Elise and their daughter Claire, while their daughter Shayne, her husband Angus and their daughters Joely, Ella and Jess live in Surrey, United Kingdom.”


The Kiln Gallery : Fran Simmons profile

Earlier this month I introduced our two invited artists at The Kiln (Andre de la Rosa and Toni le Roux).  Until we announce the next invited artists I am going to post a weekly blog on the permanent exhibitors at The Kiln.  The first person profiled is local studio, family and wedding photographer Fran Simmons.  With Doug Morton, Fran took the initial steps to get The Kiln established and the two of them invited the rest of us to be part of it.  Frans work is unique and the material at The Kiln demonstrates this.

And now, a little about Fran in her own words….

 “I’m a real local girl I was born in Pietermaritzburg but spent most of my life in the Natal Midlands and I now live on a beautiful farm in the Karkloof with my husband Matt and my wonderful busy boys Troy and Rowan.

I have loved photography since I got my first camera many years ago – but for me the most exciting thing was getting my first digital camera. A whole new world opened up for me! I think photography is definitely my way of expressing my artistic side and I love to use it as a magic wand to capture the beauty in very simple things and record my objects, as honestly as possible that’s why I so enjoy still life photography,

Portraiture and family photography is also so close to my heart because I can’t believe the speed in which little ones grow and I feel all photographs are there to remind us of what we forget.

 I have a studio at my home on the farm and I do my utmost to keep the studio sessions so relaxing and enjoyable for every one we take  comfort breaks as and when we need them. I think what is just so special too in taking photos of people, is in the short time you spend with them you form a bound  and when they finish their session you feel as though you have known them forever.

 Find me on facebook  (Fran Simmons Photography) or have a look at my web site www.fransimmons.co.za

 Tel: 033 3306036 / 083 943 8430”

Finally some examples of Frans work.  For more please see her web site or her album on The Kiln facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kiln-Gallery/192143797488771?ref=hnav (oh, and while there Like Us, and you will be kept up to date with all the happenings)


The Kiln Gallery : Toni le Roux, September invited photographer.

Along with Andre de la Rosa, we have local photographer Toni le Roux exhibiting at The Kiln.  Attached is a short resume and some examples of her work. We look forward to see you at The Kiln……

I have been a Wild Life enthusiast all my life having grown up in Zimbabwe, and after a 20 year stint in Pietermaritzburg, now reside in the Karkloof Valley.

 My background has mainly been in Human Resources in a Corporate Environment followed by an extremely rewarding and life changing 5 year period as the Director of The Pietermaritzburg & District Cerebral Palsy Association.

I have been a keen photographer ever since I can remember, till 3 years ago when I acquired my first digital camera and now I am a very “passionate” photographer. I find expressing my creativity through the lens of a camera totally fulfilling and rewarding, especially searching for and finding those special and unique shots.

Though my preferred subject matter is wild life I will always attempt to find an alternate or unusual perspective to this fascinating field of photography. However I do not limit myself and will try any other subject matter or technical challenges when the opportunity arises.”


The Kiln Gallery

I have not posted for a while as things have been quite frantic here.  Two weeks ago Doug Morton (www.douglasimages.co.za) and Fran Simmons (www.fransimmons.co.za) invited me to them and three others in a gallery in the Midlands.  They had secured the old Kiln at the Karkloof Farmers market just 2kms from Howick.  The place gets a lot of traffic so I very happily agreed.  There was a mad push to get material ready and then a rather pleasant evening hanging the photographs (and having Tracey supply a lovely winter supper of chicken stew) followed by our first day open.  There was a lot of traffic, great compliments and a number of sales.  Hats off to Doug and Fran for the initiative and I will say no more except post a bunch of pictures, the first one is mine and the rest taken by either Doug or Fran.  Photographers and Artists exhibiting are : Fran Simmons, Doug Morton, Peter Wickham, Anita Beart, Denise Beuke and Simon Joubert.  Monthly visiting artists will be invited. Please visit us on Facebook and Like us http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/pages/The-Kiln-Gallery/192143797488771?sk=wall.  Enjoy and visit.