The slipper orchids are very interesting plants. Real oddities with lower petals being fused to form the “slipper”. I have a number of slippers and currently have Paphiopedilum Leeanum in flower ( this hybrid is an old cross between Paphiopedilum insigne and Paphiopedilum spiceranum). P Leeanum is easy to grow and this really is a grea hybrid to grow.
This plant is young with only one flower but more mature plants might see up to ten flowers on a plant.
Anyway, no more other than the 100mm f2.8 diaphragm died and somthese were taken with a non L zoom lens. All are four or five stack images combined in Zerene Stacker.
Last week I posted a blog on some recently opened Stapeliads. These are interesting succulent plants from Africa, Arabian Peninsula and India. Now it is time to post a few recently opened orchids. No more words just photographs.
The first is Zygopetalum James Strauss, a rather interesting little plant with lovely flowers.
The last two weeks have seen some interesting plants flower in the garden. A number of Stapeliads that were collected in a garden in Springbok (WC) have flowered (eventually) and we have some orchids popping up flowers as well.
First the Stapeliads, here in the first one, an Orbaea, species unknown but most likely a hybrid. Take a close look at the tiny hairlike structures on the edge of the petal.
There is no theme for this weeks blog as I simply had a go at a few opportunistic subjects.
I have been working on photographing the life history of a butterfly called Charaxes varanes (if you follow this blog you will see the imagine in the next six weeks). I have always been fascinated by the head shields of the Charaxinae butterflies and they make fantastic subjects for portraits. A few years ago I bred a number of local Charaxes butterflies and got the entire life history on camera. Ch varanes is a common insect and I have bred it a number of times however never had the chance to catch the hole thing on film. The third and fourth instar head shields are spectacular. Here is the third instar portrait.
The second image that I worked on this weekend is that of a Stapeliad, S graduliflora. I blogged on these plants recently and discussed the fact that they attract flies to fertilize them (their foul smell attracts the flies, large flowers can be smelt from quite a distance, the smaller are inoffensive). This plant has never flowered for me. I received it from a friend who travelled to Springbok in the North Western Cape. This is a stack of 10 images stacked to obtain a greater DOF (using Zerene Stacker, Canon 100 f 2.8)
A while back I spent some time photographing a series of images that reflected the creatures in my garden. Entitled “Garden Portraits” here are three of my favourites.
The first is a female rain spider on her egg sack. A very caring mum looking after her babies. Canon MPE65 and MT24EX flash system
The next is a Lynx spider, the first spider that I found in my garden. Similar gear was used to the above.
The last one is a little Salticid spider, again the gear used was similar to the above.
I have to say that I have been silent for an embarrassing period. There is no excuse. Anyway, this Christmas we all headed off to the Drakensberg (Bushmansneck) for a five day break at the beautiful Farraway Farm. The insect life was shocking but the biking and other photography superb. Here are just a few images from the trip to get things going again for this year
I have never quite known what a collection of frogs are called…a croak, a pond, a flurry? Who knows, anyway I recently came accross a beautiful young Natal Tree Frog (Leptopelis natalensis) and it allowed me to photograph it. Here are a load of uncaptioned photographs, enjoy..(all taken with the Canon, 100mm f2.8 macro and 430EX Speedlight)
I have, for a while now, been photographing butterfly eggs with my MPE 65. The most recent egg that I have done is that of the Banana nightfighter, Moltena fiara. This egg was found on the leaf of the host plant, Striletzia nicholai, here in my Wembley garden. It never ceases to amaze me how beautifully structural these eggs are with the ribbing to add support and allow a thinner wall.
These next two portraits of a fly and an antlion were great fund to do, just battled with the DOF.
Finally, a while back I noticed this mint Colotes annae annae (Scarlet Tip) male in the garden. I never thought that I would see one here as this is a bushveld bug but here it is feeding on my Pentis!
This Christmas holiday has either been extremely wet or fiendishly hot and having just moved into our new house I have been unable to get into the field to photograph much. That said we have a new garden and I have been chasing all sorts of creatures around it.
The first, Xylocopa caffra, a fairly wide spread carpenter bee was a real challenge. They rarely sit and when that do are almost impossible to approach. These are large bees, approximately 45mm long, so the rig used was the Canon 100mm f2.8 USM and speelight set up that I usually use for field work.
The next series of photographs are of the egg and first instar larva of Junonia oenone, the Blue Pansy. The eggs were seen beeing laid on Asystasia gangetica. These photographs were taken with the MPE 65 and MT 24 EX set up. To gove an idea od scale the larva is 3,5mm long.
After a very wet Spring, the wettest that I can remember, it has not dried up so I am unable to post any recent butterfly (in field photographs). So, tonight I shall post a few more Salticid spiders, the first two are awating confirmation of a provisional ID of Veisella durbani, male (thanks to Galina Azarkina again!!). The others await ID and I have thrown in another weevil that I would love my South African ento’s to ID for me (v common here in Maritzburg).
Anyway, the photographs are all taken with the trusty Canon rig of MPE 65 and MT24EX twin flash.
The first two are of a very frisky Veisella durbani…
And here is a Salticid that requires ID
And a final weevil that also requires ID…
This weekend we celebrated my middle daughter, Stella’s, birthday. She invited a number of her friends over for a swimming/sleep-over party. I made breakfast for the eight girls in the morning and one pointed out a little Salticid spider on the table. I picked it up and put it on my arm so that I could photograph it later. This caused a number of eleven year olds a lot of stress but after it climbed up my arm, over my shirt and onto my chin I took it off for a few photos and they relaxed. Anyway, here they are, all taken with the usual rig of MPE65 and twin flash unit. Shot inside on a piece of white board. Special thanks to Galina Azarkina for the ID (Thyenula species)
Many thanks for the visit folks….more to come!
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…
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, 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.
A month ago, well known story teller and historian Rob Caskie approached Fran and myself to use the Kiln to present talks. We naturally thought that this was a great idea and Rob presented his first talk on Tuesday night. The talk was on Rorkes Drift, one of the great Anglo Zulu battles and was a fantastic success. Rob’s next talk is completely different and the focus is on the great continent of Antarctica. The first quarter of the 1900’s saw great expeditions. Some successful, others not. Successful expeditions generally saw heros come home. Unsuccessful ones saw heros remain entombed in the ice. Very occationally you saw unsuccessful expeditions return home. Rob’s next talk on Scott, Amundsen and Shackleton demonstrates this very well. Scott raced Amundsen to the South Pole, Amundsen won, Scott remains there. Shackleton was caught in the ice, his ship was crushed and his story is epic. His entire crew rowed to Elephant Island afterwhich he took a small whaler and travelled to South Georgia. He returned and rescued the entire crew from Elephant Island. The trip has been recorded as a great feat of mountaineering, leadership at the highest level and the greatest exhibition of navigation skills ever. The talk is on the 17th April 2012 at the Kiln.
I am not going to go through Rob’s resume again as he is very well known. All I wish to add is that he has recently addressed the Royal Geographic Society and was flown to the continent of Antarctica to present the talk he will at the Kiln.
Future talks include the battle if Isandlwana amd other great African stories….
And now a photo or two..
Rob and Fran at the Kiln
Rob on the ice. Who on this great lump of rock would talk in shorts on the ice pack ?(except Rob C of course)
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, 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.
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 – 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”
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…..
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.“
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!!
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 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!!
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.”
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.”
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.”