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Newsletter - May 11th 2017

Hi Everyone

Sorry this newsletter is a bit late this month but I have only just returned from Ireland and I was on a reptile course all day yesterday. Did see my first Sand Lizard for this year and a couple of Smooth snakes so that was nice. It’s been a fantastic season for the bluebells and the workshops went very well and they are just beginning to go over now. Very worrying is the amount of Spanish flowers moving in and there seems no solution for stopping them!


Bluebell Woods in Sussex

This month’s group workshop continues the flower theme and takes place in Hampshire on the 24th of May and is entitled.

Orchids, Wild Flowers, Broomrapes and a possible visit by the Duke of Burgundy.

This is a group workshop restricted to a maximum of six participants and the cost is £85. It is scheduled for Wednesday 24th May and runs from 10am – 3pm. Currently there are only three places remaining so it is very likely to be oversubscribed. If that happens I will arrange a second date probably the following day.

Although the Early Purple orchids will have been out for a few weeks by the time we get there, the fact is that I specifically aim to visit this site at the beginning of the orchid season. That way participants will become acquainted with one of the best orchid sites in the South of England and return as many times as they like especially when some of the later orchid species are in flower.


Pyramidal Orchids

The location is chalk grassland and is actually a site of medieval chalk workings. Today the ancient chalk pits have been overgrown and are now carpeted by wild flowers. It really is a beautiful nature reserve set in a picturesque setting in the Hampshire countryside. It has been described as one of the most interesting chalk grassland and scrub sites in Britain, rich in flowers and butterflies. There is very little walking on this workshop, more like easy going meandering.

Early Purple Orchids
Albino Fragrant Orchid

In terms of the photography equipment required it can be described as minimal. There really is no reason to be weighed down carrying a vast array of lenses; a 100mm macro or similar plus a wide angle is basically all you require. I would say it is probably one of the most relaxed of all my workshops enhanced by the fact that we shall be photographing some of the most exotic, rare and beautiful flowers in Britain.

Musk Orchid
Rare Albino Fly Orchid

At least eleven species of orchids have been identified growing at this site. They are Lesser Twayblade, Musk, Pyramidal, Fragrant, Frog, Common Spotted, Early Purple, Fly, Bee and Southern Marsh. The colony of Musk Orchids here runs to approximately 10,000 spikes! An incredible number and it is no surprise that the site is recognized as being one of National importance.

Pyramidal Flower Spike
Common Spotted Flower Spike

It is not just orchids because there is quite a range of wild flowers growing with them including Cowslips, Primroses, Horseshoe Vetch, Rock Rose and Bastard Toadflax (yes that is its name). Plus a very unusual plant that is specifically parasitic on Greater Knapweed which is called (not surprisingly) the Knapweed Broomrape. This is a really photogenic plant that grows up to 75cm and is totally lacking in chlorophyll.

The Knapweed Broomrape

For butterfly enthusiasts if the weather is kind there will be an assortment butterflies on the wing including Marbled Whites, Dark Green Fritillaries, Brimstones and Blues. However the most prized butterfly on site is The Duke of Burgundy which is quite a rare UK species.

Duke of Burgundy
Marbled White

However the emphasis on this course is to show the various techniques needed to overcome the problems facing the wild flower photographer. For example you often need to be able to diffuse your backgrounds to show your subject at its best as I demonstrate below. The first image reveals where and how the orchid was growing and shown as most photographers would probably take it. The second image is how you will be able to take your orchid photography to another level after this workshop. Yes I have a diffused background but how did I blur the foreground? Which of the two images would you rather be taking?

Common Spotted Orchid



Over the years I have developed lots of useful tips and tricks like this and on this course I will be demonstrating and sharing these with you. You will be able to stay on the site as long as you like after the workshop officially ends and re-visit it thereafter as many times as you want. This is a truly wonderful orchid site to know and have in your armory.

Don’t miss out – 3 places have already been sold.


If you are looking for a cheap, reliable car I am very reluctantly selling my Toyota Rav that many of you will be familiar with. I bought it new in November 2006 and have the original receipt. It has only done 66,630 miles and has been really well looked after so it is a real bargain at £3500.00. It has a current MOT and is taxed. It has never been involved in an accident of any kind.

Angie can no longer drive a gear shift car due to the severe damage she did when she broke her left wrist back way back in December and now is facing even further surgery. So we have had to buy a new automatic car for her and I have opted to keep her Nissan Juke which is only two years old.

The Rav is currently advertised online with Auto Trader for £3850 and there are many more images on their website. However I am prepared to reduce the price by £350 off for a quick sale to a fellow photographer.


Regards George

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