Bumblebee in the Marigolds

by Laurie B
(Belleville, Ontario, Canada)

I had been watching a hummingbird go in and out of this pot of marigolds and had been unable to capture it - apparently she wasn't interested in having her picture taken - and then this fellow came along.

I used my macro setting, then cropped the picture so that I could see more bee detail. I increased the contrast, which defined the bee a little better, and saturated the colour just a little to bring out the yellow tone in the flowers.

I'm quite pleased with the picture, but as I am just learning, would welcome any advice.

My camera is a Nikon P80.

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First of all Laurie a bit apology for not posting a response sooner. After going through the pile of submissions yours struck me, and then I had the hassle of moving house, reconnecting the internet . . .

But enough of these excuses, back to the photography.

Insects are surprisingly popular subject matter when it comes to photography. I think it is that curiosity we have with strange creatures.

Big bug eyes, hairy legs and they can fly (although I believe some scientists will tell you that’s impossible for bees . . .) who wouldn’t want to take a photo of these little fellas?

Of course, taking the photo is not as straight forward as taking a snap of your friends on holiday. For a start bees don’t do what you want them to do. There again, some of my friends make awkward customers too.

But ask a bee to stand still, look at the camera, smile! No hope. They just won’t do this kind of work any more. Apparently they all got fed up of being photographed a few years back and went on strike. They wanted better working conditions – shorter flowers and more honey I heard (sorry – had to get that in there!).

Seriously though, they are natures creatures and they don’t necessarily behave in the way you want.

There are things we can do to stack the odds more in our favour though. The first thing to do is to anticipate their movements.

Sit back and watch a group of bees harvesting some flowers and you will get a feel for their movements. You’ll notice that some flowers are more popular that others and get visited more frequently.

You’ll also notice that the bees tend to hang around on a flower for a few seconds before buzzing off again. This is your moment!

Pre-focus on the flower and wait for your bee to land. When he does (I think they’re all “he’s”) start snapping. This is one of those situations when it pays to fire off a few shots in quick succession.

The focusing part is important. Laurie’s shot looks a little “soft”, not crisply focussed. By pre-focussing (pressing the shutter button down half-way until the focus locks) you know the flower is in focus, and then you just need to wait for the bee to land.

The other thing to ensure you do (as Laurie did) is make sure you are in macro mode. This will allow your camera to focus at a short distance.

Now I’m not usually one for saying this, but Laurie’s camera isn’t a digital SLR, and for this type of photography a digital SLR can really help. They are able to focus quicker, take more shots in quick succession and usually have the ability to shoot with a more shallow depth of field. Have a look also at some of the other advantages of digital SLRs.

The only other suggestion I have for Laurie would be to crop the photo so that the frame is full of the flower and the bee, with very little else in the background.

All in all though, not a bad shot, and thanks for the submission Laurie,

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by: Pawbla

I agree, a different cropping would help a lot!

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