Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Capitilize on Opportunities

Get My Good Side IV
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
I take some abuse through the year from people who get tired of seeing me post a lot of the same subjects, like the solitary bee that I'm including with this post. But I don't let it get to me, and I certainly don't let it influence what I do and don't photograph. A lot of what I shoot is seasonal and transitory -if I don't photograph the critters as I find them then I'll never have any photos. It's not like I get to choose what's available...

I also used this bee to illustrate another key point: Sometimes I''l find an insect for the first time, one I've never seen before, that has just emerged and since the weather is still cool I get one or two days to photograph them before they move on to another area where I can't get to them or they tunnel into the ground and build nests. So the only time I'll see them again is when it's warm and they are hyper active. So it's now or never, and I'd rather take the photos when I can get them because there's just no way an active bee is going to let me get close enough for a four times life size shot like this one.

If I didn't capitalize on opportunities then I wouldn't have anything in my gallery...

As for the deconstruction on this photo it's really quite simple: The bee has recently emerged (I think it was the afternoon that I found it) and the temps were cool, somewhere around 14C (57F) so the critter is pretty immobile. I've got one flash head of the MT-24EX set to the 11 O' clock position relative to me acting as the key light and I'm using a Kaiser adjustable flash shoe to get it a little higher than it would normally be if I had just connected it to the Canon flash mount that comes with the MT-24EX. If I didn't elevate one of the flash heads then both lights would be hitting the subject at the same relative angle so any reflective surface is going to be twice as bright. But with one head elevated I get a break on the specular highlights and the shadows are deeper as well. If you look closely at the eyes you can see that they are actually convex and it shows up well because the light does not wrap around the lenses, or the subject, evenly due to the extending the key.

The other flash head is mounted directly to the flash mount at the 2 O 'clock position and it's acting as my fill. No ratio control (not necessary due to the position of the flash heads) and I'm diffusing the light though a modified Gary Fong Puffer diffuser. The camera is set to manual mode F10, ISO 100 (the shutter is at 1/250 but that's irrelevant since the ambient light level is too low to be recorded by the sensor). The MPE-65mm was set to 4x, and I moved the bee from were I found it sleeping in a flower to a low stone wall. Resting my left hand on the wall I held the lens with my thumb and index finger to keep it steady while I looked for an angle that would make the most of what little depth I had. I wanted a 5x shot but the bee woke up and took off before I could get it. When I went back the next day the only bees I found were deep inside the flowers and they were covered in pollen -not as "clean" looking as the one you see here. The day after that the bees were gone. Maybe next time... :)
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