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In photos: The beauty of bees

By dpreview staff on Dec 28, 2013 at 06:00 GMT
In photos: The beauty of bees 
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In photos: The beauty of bees 

Euglossa-dilemma, Biscayne National Park.

Source: Sam Droege

Comments

Total comments: 49
John K
By John K (3 months ago)

I understand the need for this type of photography, and I can appreciate it. But it's just "documentary" macro and I don't think that killing subjects for a photo should be the norm. There's also a lot to be said for an image that tells a story, and you can shoot at high magnification without focus stacking...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalantech/9384382036/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalantech/5649283711/

Regards,
Dalantech

0 upvotes
Stephen Rose
By Stephen Rose (3 months ago)

As a scientist (albeit not a entomologist) and a nature photographer I fully understand the reason for this type of documentation. This is for the USGS and as such is an important resource for researchers who do study bees and insects. I also very much love nature photography of live animals and love those very much so I understand the discussion here about that type of nature photography. I very much like John Hallmen's outstanding photographs (and others mentioned here) but they are not of the macro detail that is exhibited in Sam Droege's photographs that is so important for research.

Each has its place and these serve a very important purpose that no doubt will help those tasked with understanding bee physiology and morphology in their work to keep these species alive and thriving as best we can.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
unhavatar
By unhavatar (3 months ago)

As for technique, you are joking aren't you? Copying stuff with a 60mm macro on a rail with dead subjects hardly requires technique.

0 upvotes
unhavatar
By unhavatar (3 months ago)

Sorry, but using dead subjects can hardly be called macro photography. It requires as much skill and patience as picking your nose. What next, killing elephants so that they stay in position? Simple things appeal to simple minds.

0 upvotes
SRT3lkt
By SRT3lkt (4 months ago)

11th bee got the Metallica in it's name.

0 upvotes
Y_TANER
By Y_TANER (4 months ago)

Every little move we make including the reason to kill those bees will be weighed in the balance of justice on the Day of Reckoning.

"Is it at all possible that God’s attribute of Preserver, which protects all things with the utmost order and balance, —things in the heavens and on the earth, on dry land and in the ocean, dry and wet, large and small, commonplace and exalted— and as it were, sifts their results by way of accounting — is it at all possible that this attribute should permit the deeds and acts of man, man who has been given the lofty disposition of humanity, the rank of the supreme vicegerency, and the duty of bearing the Supreme Trust, not to be recorded, not to be passed through the sieve of accounting, not to be weighed in the balance of justice, not to be punished or rewarded fittingly, even though his acts and deeds closely pertain to God’s universal dominicality? No, it is not in any way possible!" (The Collection of Risale-i Nur, The Words-The 10th Word-7th Truth)

0 upvotes
leno
By leno (3 months ago)

Don't not kill a bee because god says no. Don't kill a bee because in your own free mind you know it is wrong.

0 upvotes
racketman
By racketman (4 months ago)

try these live bee stacked shots, you can't beat natural light:

59 stacked shots:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/6070630712/in/faves-tobyjug5/
95 stacked images
http://www.flickr.com/photos/99704562@N08/9580314169/in/photolist-fAzBCv-bL4pbR-eoJ2Y6-awKF4V-dzCinW-fWVJKd-9TcHfP-cqXK9y-bDVzm3-egNMNS-eJa2rD-aDB14n-d766ss-9XWVX5-9XCKnc-9XCJT2-aDERDh-cuKcNq-efeAbL-efeAch-csdibs-bCzyBv-exowa4-exowbp-exow8X-exow7t-exowaF-ctymAE-akbHVe-ekeVdR-9zhk9o-aky1vJ-eAQMNU-eAQKQW-bzzQZ1-bzzQZ5-czyoYA-efeAdy-c1w7Ty-bQsMyV-bQJ4xM-bQJ4ya-c1w7Ud-efin1a-fWaQcy-fWaQco-fWaQ7d-fXdARS-efin1r-fWaPXq-fXdAJY

1 upvote
thinkfat
By thinkfat (3 months ago)

Did you deep-freeze the poor thing to make it stand still and pose?

0 upvotes
Biowizard
By Biowizard (4 months ago)

Sorry, but as a biologist who loves and does everything he can to support the dwindling natural environment in which we all have a deep and profound share, I find an album of photos of collected-and-killed bees about as appetising as those dreadful cases of pinned, dead (some now extinct) butterflies, moths and beetles collected by Victorian "explorers".

Not impressed.

Brian

9 upvotes
88SAL
By 88SAL (4 months ago)

A dead bee that could be used to identify and protect endangered hives? Was the bee killed by the researchers?

-Pretentious signature referring to my real name.

1 upvote
BobORama
By BobORama (4 months ago)

I'm right there with you, BioWizard! Appreciating these photos is much like "appreciating" a lush studio shot of Marilyn Monroe's corpse.

When I saw the DPR teaser shot, I said "Wow! How did they get shots of bees in flight like that?" I was prepared to learn a cool new technique or something. Then the anti-climactic answer: Dead bee + $10K of publicly funded camera gear and time.

The researcher is free to follow their bliss. I'm not critiquing the work. But rather DPR's highlighting these mortuary shots. How about an article on someone dealign with live insects, using equipment most of us have?

I do a lot of ( non publicly funded ) macro work, including super-high resolution / zoomable images of ( non-deceased ) bugs, e.g. ( http://maps.muhlenberg.edu/iip2b/moth.html )

-- Bob

5 upvotes
SteB
By SteB (4 months ago)

@Biowizzard, I understand exactly what you mean. My first interest as a boy was butterflies. But the pinning them to boards bit turned me off. It was not squeamishness, it was just that dead insects lack the beauty of live ones. My mission in life for a long time has been to replace needless collecting of dead insects, with vibrant photos.

Having a bit of a life sciences background myself I understand the importance of collecting. Type specimens, DNA etc. Yet the reality is that most dead collections aren't used like this. In fact more can often be learned from live photography.

So whilst I accept the biological approach of this methodology, as a resource, I don't see how it can inspire. To anyone familiar with insects, these bees most definitely look dead. It would be much better if they also started a collection of live photographrs running in parallel, and it was these shown to the world's media.

0 upvotes
b craw
By b craw (4 months ago)

Brian, I appreciate and respect your sensibility (and I bet you could provide some great insight on more than a few subjects, photographic or otherwise, involving biology), but, although not appetizing or impressive to you, I figure there is more than plentiful space for bee shots, dead and alive.

1 upvote
b craw
By b craw (4 months ago)

And dead can be quite handsome, and if not, at least fascinating - thinking of photographers such as Joel Peter Witkin.

0 upvotes
cercis
By cercis (4 months ago)

In many climes bees do not winter over, and the workers do not reproduce, so your comment is rather pompously hollow. With mammals and long-lived bivalves, ok. With bees the organism is the hive, not the individual, a concept which takes some thinking.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Colin Stuart
By Colin Stuart (4 months ago)

Need to have a set of moth images... there are some pretty ones!

1 upvote
Tord S Eriksson
By Tord S Eriksson (4 months ago)

Very dead insects! But beautifully captured!

2 upvotes
s_pokkrong
By s_pokkrong (4 months ago)

Amazing. !

0 upvotes
Hinder
By Hinder (4 months ago)

Great photos.

0 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (4 months ago)

Wonderful and Superb.

2 upvotes
Chaitanya S
By Chaitanya S (4 months ago)

beautiful photos.

0 upvotes
audijam
By audijam (4 months ago)

this is amazing!

0 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (4 months ago)

technically and aesthetically wonderful photos. It is good that the general public gets to see the beauty and utility (pollen-covered bee in #1) of insects too often seen as hostile.

1 upvote
Underdog 3000
By Underdog 3000 (4 months ago)

Nancy,
Do you live in the western side of the US? Just wondering because the "killer" strain hasn't arrive on the east coast yet. It's the yellow jackets that are aggressive here.

0 upvotes
Jim Cook
By Jim Cook (4 months ago)

I like The one numbered 12, Megachile fortis, Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Sort of looks like it is wearing aviator glasses. :)

0 upvotes
SteB
By SteB (4 months ago)

Firstly, there's an error in the report and the pdf. The lens is in fact a 65mm lens, the Canon MP-E 65mm f2.8 1-5x lens.

I think this needs to be looked at from 2 different perspectives. Firstly this methodology is really for researchers who are not skilled photographers. Research and assay methods have always involved the collection of dead insects. So photographing them rather than mounting them on boards is a legitimate research tool, and resource.

However, from a photographic perspective the reporting of this story in the media around the world is somewhat misleading. There are quite a number of highly skilled photographers regularly producing big stacks of living insects, including bees. It would seem the media are simply unaware of them, although they have published their images.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/opoterser/

5 upvotes
pfzt
By pfzt (4 months ago)

thank you! i'm not a big fan of insects but those pics are great.

2 upvotes
neo_nights
By neo_nights (4 months ago)

There are a lot of articles on macrophotography here by Erez Marom. This is one of them (and I think all of creatures are still alive): http://www.dpreview.com/articles/5717972844/focus-stacking-in-macro-photography

1 upvote
cmantx
By cmantx (4 months ago)

It warms my heart that so many Macro shooters don't like seeing "dead Insect" shots. They are well photographed, but with them being dead, and in conjunction with stacking software, they should be. I prefer live shots to fully appreciate the effort that went into the capture. I appreciate that DP Review had an article on Macro, but I hope they will show "live" shots as they have previously.

3 upvotes
racketman
By racketman (4 months ago)

There are numerous examples of multiple stacks of living insects, John Hallem for one takes amazing stacks of insects covered in dew or 'asleep', 50 or more shots is not unusual. It's a case if getting up early and catching them cold.
These dead bee shots are ok but you can't beat natural light.

3 upvotes
davidevans1
By davidevans1 (4 months ago)

Do you have a link to the John Hallem bee photographs you mention please? I 've been searching and can't locate it. Thanks.

0 upvotes
SteB
By SteB (4 months ago)

"Do you have a link to the John Hallem bee photographs you mention please?"

His name is John Hallmen, which is probably why you couldn't find it. I can provide specific links to his bee photos if you want, but you should be able to find them on his photostream.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/

1 upvote
davidevans1
By davidevans1 (4 months ago)

Thanks SteB

1 upvote
babalu
By babalu (4 months ago)

DPREVIEW, thanks much for the interesting insight in yet another macro world. Beautiful images of yet more beautiful creatures, sadly dead. Maybe in a foreseeable future , new technologies such as the Lytro camera will allow in-camera stacking of shots to create a whole focused photo of a living insect or other small creatures or plants.
- one little remark: please correct your "maco" lens to macro lens.
Best regards
Babalu

2 upvotes
bed bug
By bed bug (4 months ago)

If anyone is interested, a webinar was posted on youtube detailing the insect stacking technique and the equipment involved:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=4c15neFttoU

It is very much worth watching.

Regards
Stephen

2 upvotes
grumpycat
By grumpycat (4 months ago)

The beauty of dead bees! :(

6 upvotes
PERCY2
By PERCY2 (4 months ago)

"Check out a sample of his work in our gallery. See more on his Flickr photostream."

how many of them are alive?

1 upvote
InTheMist
By InTheMist (4 months ago)

No. 12 is a curious one!

0 upvotes
Coliban
By Coliban (4 months ago)

Are they dead?

1 upvote
InTheMist
By InTheMist (4 months ago)

Pushing up, instead of pollinating, daisies.

7 upvotes
PERCY2
By PERCY2 (4 months ago)

i hope they're not.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
bed bug
By bed bug (4 months ago)

All the bees are dead. Sadly, with present technology, it is impossible to take multiple stacks of living insects. The best I have done is a stack of four images on mosquito larvae.

Regards
Stephen

0 upvotes
Coliban
By Coliban (4 months ago)

I rather prefer photos of living creatures. I am not an environment activist, but with the thought that these are photos from dead animals, i have a slight shiver. Take photos from living animals is possible, it costs more time and more efforts, but, especially with nowadays technology, it can be done. Have a look at my album, i have two photos of bees, not in the detail as this here, but at last, the bees are still alive...

3 upvotes
SteB
By SteB (4 months ago)

"All the bees are dead. Sadly, with present technology, it is impossible to take multiple stacks of living insects."

Hi Stephen

Whilst I agree with you that it's impossible to do big stacks of moving insects. It's certainly not impossible to make multiple stacks of living insects. You just have to look at the work John Hallmen and Thomas Shahan, to know that the regular stacking of live insect shots is possible.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhallmen/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/opoterser/

Having said all that I agree a large project to collate images of bees would be much harder with live stacking. The point being though, that live stacking is possible. I took this spider shot 4 1/2 years ago.
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3429/3913186569_089220b715_o.jpg

I even took a 2 shot stack of a hoverfly in flight a few years ago. Although I did have to clone out the extra set of wings.
http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3299/3498856262_99ab567c92_o.jpg

1 upvote
bed bug
By bed bug (4 months ago)

Hi SteB, thanks for the links and there are some great shots there. However, when compiling photographs for taxonomic records, on many occassions there simply will not be the opportunity to capture the beast in the wild, particularly for uncommon species. Thus it is often necessary to shoot dead specimens or obtain a single shot of the living (I am compiling a photgraphic record of Australian mosquitoes and so appreciate the difficulties the researchers face).

Also, you will see in the bee shots from the web sites you listed is that the bees were captured early morning when it is cold and the insects are covered in dew. Where I live in Sydney, Australia, this does not happen; the insects are immediately active upon sunrise as it is so warm, and bees being so active, stacked shots are out of the question.

Kind regards
Stephen

1 upvote
Coliban
By Coliban (4 months ago)

A better title for this article would be: "The beauty of dead bees". (If compared to photos of living bees, the difference is visible)

0 upvotes
SteB
By SteB (4 months ago)

Hi Stephen

Yes I appreciated that for scientific and technical purposes this is the right approach, and acknowledged it in my main comment. I've got a bit of a life sciences background myself in ecology so I'm familiar with collection and survey methodology. Also I appreciated that the methodology was primarily developed to be used by people that are first scientists and not necessarily experienced photographers.

I also appreciate the point about the dew.

However I still think that photographs of live bees would be a great adjunct to projects like this. In other words the background survey would used this methodology, but it would be supplemented where possible by live photos.

I've thought about his in depth as it is one of my big interests. I think the work around would be far more collaboration between expert macro photographers and researchers. Each utilizing the other's skill sets. With the pollinator declines I think it is essential to connect with the public.

Stephen

0 upvotes
Lajos Hajdu
By Lajos Hajdu (4 months ago)

Yes, these are nice for documentation and science purposes. But I'm a nature photographer who doesn't appreciate shooting dead animals in a studio.

12 upvotes
Total comments: 49