The series ends

Norfolk – Dros Y Ffin

Last week the last in the series of Iolo Williams in Dros Y Ffin was broadcast on S4C.  You can see it on S4C’s Clic website or indeed on BBC iPlayer.

Norfolk was typical of the series from a wildlife cameraman point of view.  There were some notable high points and some low points to counterbalance.  The weather  was cold for the time of year, cold to the point that my emergency extra warm top had to be dug out from the bottom of my rucksack and pressed in to service.  There were a few dead insects to be shaken out!

Despite the wind and relatively cold weather we did encounter swallowtail butterflies, which was very pleasing.  We even managed to film two-shots, with Iolo talking about these beautiful insects as they fed on flowers in front of him.  Filming close ups was another matter.  Wind is a wildlife cameraman’s greatest enemy in my opinion when it comes to filming many things.  Butterflies on flowers may well still feed, but they’re clinging on for dear life as the flower head lurches around in the wind.  Even when you follow the lurching with the camera, it makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience.  Employing slow motion helps, taming the lurching sea sickness rendering effect, but then of course the butterfly looks as if it is feeding in slow motion, and that is hardly natural.  A butterfly flying in slow motion can look balletic and beautiful; a butterfly feeding in slow motion offers neither of those two benefits.  That said, if a butterfly only spends a fraction of a second on a flower, slow motion may be necessary to see what is going on at all.  This happened to me recently where a dingy skipper was feeding for less than a second at a time on a single birds foot trefoil plant between bouts of aggressively chasing off other butterflies muttering ‘who do you think you’re calling dingy’.  Back to the wind.  So what do you do?  Wait for the wind to drop, as it almost always does, if only for brief interludes.  Erect a windbreak?  Impractical usually and almost certainly off-putting for most butterflies.

Just wait, it’s what a wildlife cameraman does best!