Different techniques for bee photography

Started Sep 20, 2014 | Photos thread
OP philzucker Veteran Member • Posts: 8,520
Re: Different techniques for bee photography

Ishpuini wrote:

Hey Phil,

Some nice shots there!

Thanks, Wim!

Personally I've settled to using flash for this type of photography, i.e. similar to your last technique. It took some learning as well, but I've visited my share of rainforests over the years, which for me are perfect macro environments with such a vast amount of subject matter that it's easy to try out all possible techniques and learn relatively fast. Fellow travelers always wonder why I'm always pointing my lens into the bushes, rather than try to shoot back-lit birds and monkeys hidden between layers and layers of branches, and fail as miserably as they do to get a decent shot.

Ah, back lit birds can of course be beautiful, but I see what you mean!

Only when they see my shots after returning to camp do they realize what they haven't seen. I don't mean my shots are exceptionally great, it's just that the macro world in rainforests is a very rewarding subject.

Now I just need a rain forest as a training ground around the corner ...

I've used a diffuser a lot when I started, but do so now only rarely to be honest. All depends on how close you get to the subject. Even with my Sigma EX180/3.5 macro, I'm still pretty close on insect subjects so the light source of the undiffused flash is very large compared to the subject, and as such look much softer than what would expected from this setup at larger distance. I find the added diffusion of e.g. a OmniBounce negligible. Larger add-ons, like some from LumiQuest, make a more visible difference, but never as much as I expected. The larger solutions are very cumbersome in a dense rainforest and the OmniBounce doesn't make any difference to speak of, so I just go undiffused, so I can have as powerful a flash as possible.

Duly noted. Will try with and without and compare results.

Downside of using flash is that it's often hard to keep some colour in the background. Esp in a dark forest and wanting to keep ISO as low as possible with small enough aperture for DOF, the difference in illumination between foreground and background is often too great to keep the background within the dynamic range while properly exposing the subject. Hence a lot of shots end up with a near black background, which can be nice to look at, but not representative of the real situation and perhaps a bit artificial.

Yup, like this one which I didn't include in the original post. As you said, it can be nice to look it, but of course shouldn't be the standard way to do it, I agree.

Higher ISO (but not too much to keep away from noise) and wider aperture can balance things out more evenly, but this means focusing becomes more critical and the success rate decreases, so more trials are needed and fellow travelers need to be more patient...

Ah, those pesky fellow travelers ...

Not easy, but boy it can be fun.

It can!

Thanks very much for sharing this detailed info here, Wim. Very educational indeed.


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