Monday, August 24, 2009

Freckles II Deconstruction

Freckles II
Originally uploaded by Dalantech.
My mother in law planted pumpkins again this year and fortunately I managed to get some compositions out of my head from shooting honeybees in these flowers a few years ago. In 2007 I was shooting them when they stopped to clean themselves -that pumpkin pollen irritates them pretty bad! But since they were just sitting on a leaf without much to keep them busy they wouldn't let me get very close, and I was limited by the angles that I could shoot them.

The trick was to put down some corn syrup on a flower petal and wait for the girls to find it and start feeding. I placed my left index finger directly under the bee (with the petal between us) and put my thumb on top. Then I curled the petal around my index finger to get it out of the way so I could shoot at a low angle and not get the petal in the foreground (it would have been out of focus and distracting). All that was left was to place the lens on my left hand to keep it steady, and since I was holding onto the flower I had a lot of control over the composition. I wanted the line from the eye to the end of the proboscus in focus, so I just went looking for a "magic" angle" that would make the most of the curve. It sounds complicated, but with practice it's actually pretty easy to do.

Images like this one pretty much put the last nail into the "you have to freeze them" coffin...

For those of you curious about honeybees: The pitch of their wings gets higher as they get more excited. So if you listen to the sound they make you can get a feel for when it's time to back off and leave them alone. Several times I did just that, especially when they started getting in my face instead of flying off. I was dealing with some of the same workers over the last four days, and after a while they learned that I had the corn syrup so it took less and less time for them to find it and start feeding. It also took less time for them to start competing with each other and to start getting way too close to me

This frame was taken close to 3x at F13. I was adjusting the mag based on the framing that I wanted so I wasn't at even mag markers on the MPE-65mm. I also took this shot with the camera held horizontally, but I framed it knowing that I'd turn the photo 90 degrees in post -easier than trying to hold the rig vertically.


Rusty said...

Great shot as always, and thanks for the explanation.

When I've tried to take photos of Bumbles or hovers feeding (on Buddleia or Ragwort), I find they are constantly moving, too much for me to keep them in focus.

How do you deal with this, or is it not such a problem with honeybees and syrup?



Dalantech said...

Hey Dave,
The ladies are always moving -the syrup just allows me to get close. One of the things that I do to take images faster is to use my peripheral vision for composition, and to look directly at the area that I want to be in focus. Since I don't have to look around the frame before I shoot, or take my attention off of the area that I want to be in focus, I can take about 2 shots every 3 seconds even though I'm refocusing the scene between shots. It takes some practice, but all technique falls into the relm of mechanics and muscle memory so if I can do it then I think anyone can.

Rusty said...

Thanks for the tip!


Dalantech said...

Glad to help Dave :)