Getting eyebrow close with a big macro lens is always an exercise in “damn the torpedos”. When ever I dive into a flower rich environment to catch bees in action, I run the risk of pissing some body off lol. To date I have never been stung. I’ve had a couple of wasps dive bomb me though. Probably because I was too close to the entrance of their rock nest (cave). I spend hours every month of the summer chasing these guys. I have some new technology this year so we will see how they come out.
I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys this summer. The limitations of the optics are such that deep focus fields in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
With ALL Macro shots, light is your friend. The more, the better. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best…📸
A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more bee photos incoming lol. I’ve actually seen a few bees about but it’s 37 degrees as I type this and it snowed today.
Its nice to keep the spring season in perspective. Looking ahead 1 month is healthy if you have the images. The limitations of the technology I use are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically. Bumblers are still sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I was able to photograph bumbler since then. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys as they start appearing again. 🤠
The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on Ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which, by the way actually exist ).
A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. As I type this a cold weather front is incoming tomorrow so a little summer bluster here for you today.
I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking ahead 3 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am and how fast this is happening. . The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
Bumblers are sort of rare these days mid winter We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠
I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-November kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year. Here in March, anything is possible weather wise. Our biggest snows are in March and April.
One of the last of the 2019 Bee images “Bumble Bee Pollen Mining” on a wildflower naturalized up in the shelter belt (woods) west of our homestead. A bit out of season lolol.
This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸
Mini-Lesson for working on Manual: This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So this has a Manually set High F-stop# of 36 with this lens = deepest field of focus possible (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. You also loose a little sharpness due to diffraction. Light has to come from somewhere, so you need to select a longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher to gain more light. . But higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Only three things to adjust in manual really….. 😎
Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? They would work for this kind of photography pretty well I believe. Except the getting stung part lolol. (In full disclosure I’ve never been stung doing this. I’m just a really bright extra sun incoming with this illuminated lens.
This Bumble Bee Up Close image was obviously from this summer as it’s a -8 Windchill as I type this post lolol.
A factory 90mm sony macro lens at mimimum focal distance of about 9 inches caught this fellow feeding. The focal plane is perhaps 1/8th inch deep, maybe 3/16’th of an inch depending on how much light I set the camera for (f22). Bright sunlight is the ONLY way your going to get in this close with a standard 1X lens.
Photographers Notes: Discussion on Macro-photography
Macro lenses come from 1x up to 5 x that I have found. I have several Chinese built lenses that can do pretty impressive work in the upper magnification. A 1X Sony Macro lens took this image as I said. Sort of a miniature telephoto but with only a little thin layer of focus. Working these lenses require you to get in the hollyhocks with all the bees. I wouldn’t do this if your allergic to bees but I’ve never been stung doing it, yet….🤔
Thin focus fields: Anything in front of or behind that depth of focus zone is OUT of focus. You can see various areas that are JUST out of the optimum distance and position of the depth of field focus zone.📸
A lot of photographers use dead insects. I’m absolutely good with that to a point… I prefer to keep a bug in a bag overnight in a 33 degree refrigerator. Don’t freeze it. Then you can put it onto a flower under studio conditions for a few minutes before it warms up so have some cameras ready to catch him moving as well. Hard to adjust your settings under warming up bee pressure lolol. Insects waking from being cold are always candid since you don’t know how they will react. It’s different for each species I suspect. You can always put it back in the fridge😁
I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more trickle in this winter lol. Its nice to keep the season in perspective. Looking back 6 months ago is healthy if you have the images. This wing detail is pretty good and the overall focus dang good considering how close I am. The limitations of the technology are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
Bumblers are sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I’ve seen a flying bumbler this year. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys 🤠
The detail in the bokeh is the dividing line of two planters on our lodges main “patio”. It’s nice and warm on that concrete pad. THe first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖
I like the winter, but……starting in October is a LOT early. I’m used to mid-november kick offs and hard freezes. I’ve took a road trip through Yellowstone in mid October one year. Not this year lolol. Wyoming weather is such you can have snow in any month of the year.
The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which do exist as well).
This guy is getting a LITTLE pollen from this (I think) sedum flower . It’s a TINY blossom and this bee is going to get every last piece of pollen off it before he leaves lolol.
Ultra close macro lenses are really a challenge to work since they have a very thin depth of field so getting everything is focus is your priority. Move your head 1/4 inch and the focus shifts back and forth with you.
Bee Landing pattern alpha was tough to figure out…. I watched very carefully for a while to figure out how “Bombus” (250 species of Bumble Bee under Bombus) was approaching and landing on the bottom flower. There was a rotation involved with this bee (bumbler) moving between these two Hollyhock blooms and a few others.
Catching these guys in a 1/2 inch thick zone of focus while they are flying is “Challenging” to say the least. I have to get around 9 inches away with this particular 90mm Zeiss Macro lens to get this kind of image plus shutter speeds in the 1/4000ths range to freeze the wings. Those wings beat 250 times a second over a 90 degre arc.
Geologic Musings: There are a few fossil bees known from the Geologic Record. But the “Amber Bee Fossil “on Ebay for 12 dollars MIGHT be a fake LOLOLOLOL. Don’t buy “Amber” fossils on Ebay …. In reality, Bee fossils are quite rare and would be worth thousands on the commercial market and priceless to scientists. There was a nice bee fossil found from the Miocene northern Bohemia (recently released paper_ The Miocene was from 22-5 million years ago depending on the sequence. Technical paper but nice images in it. (Prokop,Dehon,Michez and Engel 2017 for citation if you want to look it up).
Factoids: Bumblers are the highest living insects actually preferring higher elevations. Someone found a colony on Mount Everest 18000 feet above mean sea level. Our 4000 feet elevation pales by comparison lolol. The biggest bumbler out there lives in Chili and is 1.6 inches long…. about 3 times the size of an average bumbler her in North America. Bees of course pollenate most of our crops and are a lynchpin in our ecology.
Bumble Bee and Lilacs on the 4th of July was occurring until July 4thin 2019. I have many photos of bees on lilacs from that day. Latest Lilacs in the 30 years I’ve lived in Wyoming that I recall lilacs in bloom. that late. There are several species of Bumblers that were working the pollen conveyer belt to the hives. I have yet to find a natural hive on the ranch but they sure are here.
We have had a large west coast honey company place hives in small truckloads on the ranch. They gather honey from the every other years Sweet Clover bloom we have here. It’s miserable for me with allergies flaring from all the clover pollen and it’s a serious fire danger. iI all that clover dries out but the honey sure is good lolol. We get a big box of honey from production each year as “rental” for the real estate the hives take up and feed from. WAY more than we use in a year.
Of course, Honey lasts way more than a human lifetime…. There is perfectly good honey found with ancient Egyptian artifacts in jars. Just heat and eat lolol. It’s full of antibacterial properties. It has been used for centuries (honey) to treat a host of ailments successfully and may be a good antibiotic I’ve heard. (rumor).
With Winter moving in early this year having had several good snows and hard freezes starting Oct 1, I thought I share an image from last spring as everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. I haven’t posted a bee for a while 😀 There will be a few bee shots incoming all winter as I refinish old images to meet my current higher standards.
As this Bee Approaching the Dinner Table (Hollyhock), I had to anticipate where it was going to Bee.
Photographers notes: Everything is mostly out of focus but the bee. The focal depth at 9 inches (closest focus for this Sony 90mm Macro) from the bee with this lens is perhaps 1/2 inch deep even with a lot of light and high f numbers. Anything in that 1/2 thick plain is sharp, anything else is blurred. Somethings are ultra sharp and others not so much. That is part of the Macro game is figuring out where that zone is and waiting around at very high shutter speeds 9 inches from the “approach” angle to this flower. I was 90 degrees and focused on the center of the flower ….Hang out and wait (remember when it was warm? ) for a bee to come by at a busy landing strip…. Hold that photo-yoga position number 15 for as long as it takes.😄
This is harder than catching flies between two Chopsticks with all due respect for Mr. Miyagi.
A few more bee photos will straggle onto my posting schedules still left over from summer and some reposts over the winter to remember those warm days.
The Green Iridescent Bee is gathering pollen from this surviving Aster after the freezes of late. This may be one of the last outdoor insect photos of this year.
This little guy is about 1/4 of an inch long total so this is an “UltraMacro” shot with a 2x mag factor at about 1 inch distance from the bee. There are lights around the optic so the slight yellow colorcast is due to that. I corrected it best I could without washing out the actual yellow of it’s body.
How to get 1 inch away from a bee….patience, and it is very much of a photo-yoga application. Smooth movements with no sudden changes of direction help tremendously lolol. Second finished image from this Photosession timeline and is a 2×3 aspect up to 36 high.
Known as the “Bright Green Sweat Bee”, this native Wyoming Species was about the only thing flying around and they were working some naturalized Asters in our forest. The last freeze pretty much wasted every other flower but these are tough little fellows lol.
When I say Tiny, they are perhaps a 1/4 inch long and my lens is about 1 inch from him taking the photo. It has lights that illuminate around the lens for pretty good intensity even under fairly dark conditions if you get this close. This is a really deep focal field for this tight a shot from an ultra-macro lens.
Location: in the backyard of the Homestead, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
Catching a Bumble Bee Frozen in Flight and being able to do it reliably is a challenge for every photographer. The depth of focus at 9 inches away (where you have to be to get a shot like this with a 90mm macro) is around a 1/2 inch thick so getting a very rapid fire camera really helps as well as one that will take 1/6000th or higher shutter speeds. This is not a crop. Full sized file as it were.
Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands….in our garden with the hollyhocks…
Bee’s wings Blur because they beat at 230 per second through a 90 degree arc. If you set your camera around 1/200th of a second and catch a shaft of light just right….. You’ll get a nice wing blur. You have to pick a flower at right angles to shafts of light from the sun. Then as the bee rises off the flower and into the light, it will light his blurred wings. if your timing is right. (at 12 frames a second I had one come out). Kind of a tough shot to get again I’m thinking lolol.
To catch a Bumble Bee Fly Up Close and Personal…takes some planning. First I have to get within 9 inches of my subject for maximum magnification. WIth a LOT of light, I can maybe get 1/2 an inch focal depth at 9 inches (f22). Somebody could do the math but it’s not a deep focal field. It’s more like catching a fly with two chop sticks. You have to think ahead of the bee. You know…. “Be the Bee”😂 More importantly, you have to focus where the Bee is going to Be lolol.