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.
A tad out of season is this Bee Pollen Mining on Hollyhock
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 deep in the flower is amazing.. The first hard freeze took care of all that opportunity 😖 Now there is about a foot of snow on the ground.
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. This posts Dec 8th….
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.
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.
Up Close and Personal: A Tachnid Fly is indeed a Gardeners friend. Hairy, spiny and without a peer, eyelash winner of the insect world. Guiness should be called (or sipped from a glass) in honor of this parasitic fly that lays eggs in other garden pests. They truly help farmers/gardeners and are a huge family of flies virtually every one of which is hairy as heck lolol. They are munching pollen here and the “Last Man Standing” as I was walking through the woods after several HARD (around 20 degrees) over night freezes “hoping” to find a macro lens subject to cooperate. In this inch across image area, there is a LOT going on. I find the macro lens a lens of discovery as much as just technical photography. The LED illuminated ring around lens I used for this is about one inch from the Fly. Patience and very slow determined “Photo-Yoga” movements are necessary to get this kind of capture. Sort of a slow dance for me now . This is great stuff up close… 📸
There were several of these guys feeding on a group of naturalized asters back in the windbreak woods behind our place. Everybody else (bugs) were absent/in hiding or killed by the freezes. Snowflakes will be my next target with this lens.
Asters of course are tough tough plants but they were on their last legs here too. Fall insect life and green leaves here in the WyoTana borderlands are winding down.
Into winter we slide with punctuated winter storm events being the rule until it gets really cold lolol (laughing maniacially). Maybe a little “Indian Summer” left in the early winter on the high plains.
Tachinid Flies are indeed a gardeners best friend. They are parasitic in their larval life stage of course and their favorite target are major insect pests to the garden. They eat pollen etc but kill pests with their larva. They are not mammal flesh eating flies per se.
I had to laugh about the hairy butt but there must be a reason lololol.
Location: in the garden (even after several hard freezes below 20 degrees). Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.
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.
“The Beauty and the Beast” is a photon grab from a warm active Wasp gathering pollen on a Purple Aster that we naturalized back in the “woods” years ago.
IT is covered by 4 inches of frozen snow as I type this. 75 degrees one day…..next day….. 20 degrees lololol. (Laughing maniacially).
All the vegetation up here are all still leaf bearing, covered with heavy snow. There will be some images resultant as soon as the light unflattens …..
White snow is going to be the rule not the exception this winter…. Never saw brown season this year. Missed it entirely. Went from this, to white in one day. Welcome to “fall” on the high ridges of the Wyoming/Montana borderlands. Fall was on a Tuesday this year… 😂
Everyone needs some Purple in their Life at least once a week🙏
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.
Catching a Bumble Bee Fly By with a macro lens is sort of like catching a fly in chopsticks. It’s a very similar anticipation of where the bee is going to be. Notice I’m focusing in front of the flower. The focal depth is a plane about 1/2 inch thick so either side of that and the bee is out of focus (timing). Bees wings are very fast swinging a 90 degree arc at 230 beats a second. You need really bright sun to freeze this action with any camera.