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Bee Hunting

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brian1208
brian1208 e2 Member 109963 forum postsbrian1208 vcard United Kingdom12 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 3:25 PM

Some thoughts and examples on one way of photographing bees which I hope someone may find interesting and helpful.

As some of you may know I have a bit of an obsession with "buzzy things" particularly bees. Today was a pretty uninspiring day photographically but I though I would have a potter into the garden to see what happened after the rain stopped.
Bumbles were beginning to feed so I stood for 5 minutes or so until I spotted that they were frequently feeding on our blue penstemmon

bee-hunting-02.jpg

I remembered that the best time to get a chance of some decent images is once the bee is in the flower

1-bee-hunting-05.jpg

as, if you listen and watch the flower movement you may spot the moment the bee leaves the flower (as you can see by the downward tongue)

bee-hunting-04.jpg

The light was pretty dire so some of the shots aren't very sharp (it really needed shutter speeds of 1/500th+ not the 1/100th - 1/200th which was all I could get with ISO400 wide open)

But, with a bit of persistence it was possible to get some not bad results

bee-hunting-06.jpg

bee-hunting-07.jpg

so, find the flower in your garden that is most frequently visited by bees, take 10 minute out to watch, the start shooting (but pcik a better day wetaherwise and you may get sharper results)

All these were shot hand-held using the OMD EM5 with 12-50 kit lens at f6.7 in macro mode and each image represents around 50% of the full frame image

Last Modified By brian1208 at 4 Jul 2012 - 3:31 PM
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4 Jul 2012 - 3:25 PM

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brian1208
brian1208 e2 Member 109963 forum postsbrian1208 vcard United Kingdom12 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 3:33 PM

sorry for some of the typos, I was having problems composing and editing this for some reason

Carabosse
Carabosse e2 Member 1139367 forum postsCarabosse vcard England269 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 3:36 PM

Nice pics Brian - do you ever get stung! Wink

brian1208
brian1208 e2 Member 109963 forum postsbrian1208 vcard United Kingdom12 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 3:41 PM

Thanks CB, nope, never been stung whilst shooting bees, bugs (or hornest even)
If you watch their behaviour its quite feasible to judge whether its safe or not to approach and a slow, measured approach doesn't seem to worry them

icphoto
icphoto  12553 forum posts England
4 Jul 2012 - 4:20 PM

This is a very interesting article illustrated with some nice pics. In fact it has spurred me on to have a go myself.

ikett
ikett e2 Member 3317 forum postsikett vcard England
4 Jul 2012 - 5:18 PM

So intesting, have you thought of doing a blog, you have a lot of knowledge, I'm sure many folks would be interested.

Andy_Cundell
4 Jul 2012 - 5:47 PM

Awesome! I tried all last summer to get a bee in flight and will be trying to again this year! I was even thinking of contacting a local bee keepers group, borrowing some PPE and getting right upto the hive 'door'!

BEVZED
BEVZED e2 Member 71139 forum postsBEVZED vcard United Kingdom
4 Jul 2012 - 5:53 PM

I've sat for an hour or more doing bees 'n creatures many a time, one of my disasters quite amused me when I really looked at it! I just cannot get the sharpness on the bee itself unless I get a 'lucky' shot. How the heck do I get wings with detail in them like yours? Does the f make a lot of difference?adj-cr-dragonfly-n-b-flies-at-ba-856-new.jpg

I can't find the original to see what settings I was on with the D80 for this Sad

Last Modified By BEVZED at 4 Jul 2012 - 5:55 PM
brian1208
brian1208 e2 Member 109963 forum postsbrian1208 vcard United Kingdom12 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 6:49 PM

thanks for the comments everyone, glad you found this of interest.

Ian, give it a go and hopefully you will get hooked Like I did some years ago, there is a lot of fascinating activity we don't normally see and its all around us

"ikett", I have an AV show I did as an intro to this subject a while back. I'll see if I can dig it out and post it here somehow. I will write a bit more on my website blog too, when I get a mo. Its here: http://imagesfromnature.foliopic.com/articles/blog-38

Andy, I suspect you will have more luck with bumble bees to start with, they are larger and slower. If you look through some of my past images in my PF you will find a fair few "Bees in Flight" shots together with the shooting info which may help a bit. Observation and learning their habits was what taught me the techniques, took me 6 months to make it almost instinctual (but I always was a slow learner! Wink )

Bev, its more about knowing where and when to shoot than camera settings. These shots were with ISO 400 and f6.7 (wide open) using available light. Shutter speeds were way down on what I prefer to use but by shooting them whilst feeding and catching them leaving the flower I gave myself the best chance of getting the result I wanted. I was right down at minimum focal distance too, so very close to the bees.

More typically I shoot these using a ring-flash in high speed sync mode and aim for 1/2000th sec + shutter speed with f stop between 5.6 and 8, taking care to get the plane of the sensor parallel to the body of the bee if I want max DOF. For face-on shots I will usually drop to f5.6 and take care to focus on the eyes. Manual focus + using the "Rocking Camera" focus method works best (unless you have the 7D + 100 f2.8 LIS which has the most amazing ability to focus on the eye hand-held!)

Mind you, this little EM-5 + kit lens don't seem to bad either Grin

User_Removed
4 Jul 2012 - 9:16 PM

Great stuff Brian.

As an ex-apiarist, I am very familiar with honey bees but really prefer photographing bumbles. (By the way, I have never been sure whether or not bumble bees ever sting. I got thoroughly inured to honey bee stings when I kept them but I have never heard of anyone getting stung by a bumble.)

cattyal
cattyal e2 Member 85791 forum postscattyal vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 10:30 PM

I've been stung by a bumble twice - once when I crouched down in the garden and the silly thing got squished between my calf and thigh and another time, when young enough to wear nighties, I'd brought mine in off the washing line and found out, too late, that there was a bumble in the sleeve!

Last Modified By cattyal at 4 Jul 2012 - 10:30 PM
brian1208
brian1208 e2 Member 109963 forum postsbrian1208 vcard United Kingdom12 Constructive Critique Points
4 Jul 2012 - 11:12 PM

I was stung by a Bumble when a child. I remember catching it in my hand to show someone and "it bit me" as I apparently complained at the time.

A friend of ours in Chester was an apiarist LF, he taught me quite a bit about bee behaviour which I find helps these days.

Did you find that so long as you are gentle they seem to be accepting of your presence?

I get the feeling that they can maybe sense fear? They certainly seem to be more active / aggressive around my wife (who doesn't share my passion for "Buzzy Things" Smile )

I feel so lucky to have so many different species in our garden, at least 6 different Bumble species (I suspect a lot more) + many different Hovers and a few visiting Damsels and Dragons - macro heaven! Grin

rossd
rossd  101061 forum posts England
5 Jul 2012 - 8:55 AM


Quote: This is a very interesting article illustrated with some nice pics. In fact it has spurred me on to have a go myself.

Ditto for me.

However, I must say that I have seen very few bees this year (havn't seen many butterflies either) Sad Have you noticed this or is it me not looking in the right places?

mikehit
mikehit e2 Member 45758 forum postsmikehit vcard United Kingdom9 Constructive Critique Points
5 Jul 2012 - 8:57 AM


Quote: Did you find that so long as you are gentle they seem to be accepting of your presence?

I get the feeling that they can maybe sense fear? They certainly seem to be more active / aggressive around my wife (who doesn't share my passion for "Buzzy Things" )

I'm pretty sure they can. But apparently sudden movements and loud noises can also set them off, especially the social bees like honey bees where they can swarm in to defend from a threat. Which (so I understand) is why if you are stung next to a hive/nest it is best not to start screaming and flapping your arms around. Solitary bees like bumblebees are much harder to get going.

cattyal
cattyal e2 Member 85791 forum postscattyal vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
5 Jul 2012 - 9:11 AM

Butterflies are definitely still in short supply - there seem to be fewer each year - but there's plenty of bees about. I keep my garden pesticide free (except on the lillies due to Lily Beetle) - the bugs and beasties are free to roam. On the rare occasions that the sun comes out and I can sit in the garden with a book it's nice to hear the constant buzzing all around me Smile

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