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Thread: Anybody photographing Bees?

  1. #1

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    Anybody photographing Bees?

    With the warmer spring weather coming to the northern latitudes, a wide selection of bees are appearing.

    They are one insect which I always struggle to photograph.

    Auto focus often focuses on the background/foreground instead of the soft and fluffy bee; even when just using the centre focusing point. And most bees move too fast for me to manually focus.

    So far this year, this is probably my best shot; which still remains some distance short of perfect. Canon 40D with Sigma 180 macro lens plus Speedlite flash on camera, Manfrotto tripod. Manual camera settings with flash compensation to suit.

    Anybody photographing Bees?

    Which made me wonder, how do other photographers cope with shooting live bees?

    ps. As well as struggling to photograph them, I also find identification to be full of problems. This is one of the Andrena family but I haven't found the time to check through my ID books yet.

  2. #2

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Nope, not me. I'm usually running from them. I didn't want your thread to be lonely, though.

  3. #3
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Geoff,

    Very nice! We should be seeing bees here soon.Not much insect activity here yet,but the flowers just started blooming the past 2 days.Frost warning tonight won't help matters.
    Only macro this year has been a Garter snake.
    I shoot a lighter lens (Sigma 150) than your 180,so I shoot handheld.I prefocus the lens and move into the shot and fire the shutter when I reach focus on the insect.It took me awhile to get the technique down,but it raised my keepers a good bit.
    Definitely taught me patience.
    One from last summer:
    Anybody photographing Bees?
    5DII Sigma 150 f/16 ISO 200 1/200" 580ex with diffuser.
    Last edited by Jim B.; 13th April 2011 at 10:45 PM.

  4. #4
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    I need to work on getting closer to these macro subjects, and I definitely will start trying Jim's focusing technique. I also am placing an order for a 580ex ii soon so that should help! But here are a couple from previous summers.

    Anybody photographing Bees?
    Canon Rebel XT, Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di SP LD 1:1 Macro, 1/800 sec at f/3.5. ISO 400.


    Anybody photographing Bees?
    Canon EOS 7D, Tamron 180mm f/3.5 Di SP LD 1:1 Macro, 1/510 sec at f/3.5. ISO 200.

    - Bill

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    I tend to use the 'sway backwards and forwards' manual focus technique with the macro lens too
    shutter fires when camera thinks it is sharp, although as Geoff says, it still isn't necessarily the bee that is sharp

    Here's my (non-macro) 300mm contribution from May last year;

    Anybody photographing Bees?
    Nikon D5000 + Nikon 70-300mm VR: 300mm, 1/2000s, f/5.6, iso400 (19683)

    I think Jim's shots are definitely the ones to try to equal - well, getting close would be nice, as I don't think beating is even an option!
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 13th April 2011 at 11:33 PM.

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    I think Jim's shots are definitely the ones to try to equal - well, getting close would be nice, as I don't think beating is even an option!
    I'll second that, though I'll put Geoff's right up there too! This site definitely is providing plenty of higher set bars...

  7. #7
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    I've tried many times to get a bee in flight with a macro lens,but have never had any luck.My reflexes aren't fast enough at that high mag.
    Anybody photographing Bees?
    This was with a 100-400 IS at 400mm.Much easier to track with that lens.

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by ilovelucydog View Post
    Nope, not me. I'm usually running from them. I didn't want your thread to be lonely, though.
    Bees are fine. They are friendly creatures and you really have to seriously annoy them before they become a threat.

    The 'nasty' insect in the UK is the Common Wasp although even these usually just fly past unless you make sudden movements.

    Flying bees are very tricky to photograph. I find that using AI servo can help sometimes. That is certainly a good shot from Jim.

    And for those of you who have a 'general purpose' macro zoom lens but struggle to get close to insects; an extension tube may work wonders. But there is some loss of light and a tripod may be needed. I managed reasonably well with a Canon 70-300 lens plus a 25 mm tube.

    Although, obviously, nothing beats a 'proper' macro lens.

  9. #9
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Unfortunately, summer has started here. But, the thread gave me a reason to finally pp a few bee photos I had taken in Feb. Here are some of them. There are about 20 odd in my flickr album, though I should warn you that some photos in there might be similar too each other.

    #1
    Anybody photographing Bees?

    #2
    Anybody photographing Bees?

    #3 It sucks that the bee is leaving the frame in this photo But, among all of my bee photos, I find this to have the best angle.

    Anybody photographing Bees?

    #4 and a tight crop.. rest are uncropped
    Anybody photographing Bees?
    Last edited by abhi; 14th April 2011 at 07:58 PM.

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by ktuli View Post
    I'll second that, though I'll put Geoff's right up there too!
    Yes, now I have wound back up to the top of the thread, I agree (sorry Geoff)

  11. #11
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    I was pressed into taking this shot by my granddaughter who was then fascinated by bees. It was taken in the hight of summer in 2008 in the garden of our home. I used an EF 70-300 IS USM lens at full bore (focal length 300mm). The vital statistics were Aperture: f/5.6 Exposure 1/400 ISO: 100. I upped the shutter speed help me avoid camera shake.

    Anybody photographing Bees?

  12. #12

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    I only have a couple from a long time ago...............................great shots everyone.

    Anybody photographing Bees?


    Anybody photographing Bees?


    Anybody photographing Bees?


    Anybody photographing Bees?

  13. #13

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Amazing shots everyone, here is my feeble attempt. Looks like this one has been pretty busy.

    Anybody photographing Bees?
    1/640s:f5.6: ISO 200: 200mm


    Wendy

  14. #14
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    there are some very lovely shots here! only 1 bee crossed my path yesterday in all the flowers I wandered through, and by the time I got low enough to the ground to get a shot, he flew away... most likely laughing that I had my knees in the wet mucky grass

  15. #15

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    We seem to be getting a good assortment of bee 'varieties' here but these are the ones which I find to be 'doubly difficult'

    Anybody photographing Bees?

    They are known as Cuckoo Bees because they lay eggs in the nests of other bees.

    This is one of the Nomada family. Possibly Nomada ruficornis, but they are difficult to identify correctly.

    There are a lot of them about during the Spring but they just don't settle. They constantly fly close to the ground looking for another bee's nest (particularly forms of Andrena bee) and when they locate a suitable nest they scurry inside the nest hole without pausing for a photo.

  16. #16
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Geoff,

    Very nice shot.I've not ever seen a Cuckoo Bee.

  17. #17
    Jim B.'s Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Sweat Bee is the name we use here for this species.

    Anybody photographing Bees?

    It think the proper name is Dialictus Zephrum,family Halictadae.They are attracted to salt and are important for flower pollination.I see a lot of these and they can vary in colour.Green,red and a dark green that looks almost black.

  18. #18
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Sorry - I know this isn't nearly as good as the others that have been posted here, but I went out today with my new flash and trying it out on some of these bees (at least I think they're bees). They're tiny (maybe 1/4" tops) and are constantly moving - I had to predict the flight path of this guy and fired away - this was the best one I got. They move so quick that it is still blurred.

    Anybody photographing Bees?

    Geoff, any idea what it is from that blurry photo?

    - Bill

  19. #19

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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Well Bill, if is was taken in the UK I would say that it was another of those Nomada species but I don't know their distribution around the world.

    The plant in the background appears to be a Vinca (periwinkle) which I have in my garden.

    As far as I am concerned, any flying insect photo deserves a round of applause!

    This one isn't that bad, have you tried a little selective sharpening on just the bee?

  20. #20
    ktuli's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody photographing Bees?

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    As far as I am concerned, any flying insect photo deserves a round of applause!

    This one isn't that bad, have you tried a little selective sharpening on just the bee?
    Thanks!

    I have not tried any sharpening. Other than cropping it down from the original, I haven't done any other PP.

    Anybody photographing Bees?

    - Bill

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