Just a Honeybee

But still the best shot I’ve managed with the new DSLR setup so I thought it was worth posting. Setting the aperture to f/8.0 and using a flash helps a lot.

honeybee close-up

The advantage to shooting honeybees is that they’re common, easy-to-find, and not especially nervous around people or cameras. In fact, in most locations they seem to easily outnumber all other bees combined. In the Americas and Australia, they are an introduced species that weren’t present at all until a few hundred years ago. Possibly they have displaced native bees and pollinators, though the evidence is unclear. (Alien Species in North America and Hawaii, George W. Cox, p. 48.) If they did, it likely happened several hundred years ago, before most folks noticed and now they just seem like a native part of the fauna. Possibly reduction of honeybee populations in non-agricultural areas might have a cascading effect on many non-native plant species that depend on honeybees for pollination.

4 Responses to “Just a Honeybee”

  1. Ed Says:

    Nice picture. Much better depth of field than the fly.

    I was going to comment on the fly that I find stopping way down greatly improves macro shots. Otherwise the dof is only a few mm. Fast glass helps.

    If you want to spring for it, a ring flash helps a lot, too. If not, I’ve used a piece of white paper or matte-surface mylar as a diffuser. Typical diffusers aren’t diffuse enough for close work, so you need something almost opaque.

  2. Elliotte Rusty Harold Says:

    Well the bee is a bigger than the fly. :-)

    I did use a ring flash for both shots, though this one also had a lot more natural light to play with. I think the real trick is to set both aperture and shutter speed manually when using the flash. I’ll have to check, but I suspect this was shot at f/8 and 1/250s. The EOS 50D seems to choose aperture and/or shutter speed based on natural light only without considering the effect of the flash with the result that either the shutter speed is too slow, the aperture too open, or both.

  3. Ed Says:

    When I have the time, I set aperture manually to get dof, and let the camera choose shutter speed. If it shows a shutter too slow, I’ll skip the shot, or set it up on a tripod and wait for the subject to arrive. Oh, and I’ll reselect an ISO when the overall natural lighting changes. I don’t own a ring flash, but it was great to borrow one.

    The hard part is when your subjects don’t sit still. Insects are undoubtedly the hardest. “Busy as a bee” strikes home when you’re trying to get the sucker framed and shot.

  4. Ed (your brother Ed) Says:

    Well, we have plenty of these at my house as a swarm decided my attic was a nice place to set up a hive. They are going in and out through a tiny hole between a column on my porch and the roof. We have already contracted a bee keeper/carpenter to come take them away.

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