One of my white whales, as it were, in macro photography is a picture of a bee hovering just next to a flower or other such source of nectar. It’s a shot that I have been chasing for years but never quite achieved, though I have come close on a couple of occasions. This shot, clearly, is not me reaching my goal but it isn’t bad and a good example of a kind of picture that I do enjoy being able to create while also serving as a reminder that if I just keep at it I’m sure I will get it. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but hopefully soon. And in the meantime, there’s still so much to learn and so many new things to try. It’s a magical world, after all :)
Anyway, at the risk of waxing introspectively poetic, let’s talk about this image of a bee on…well, I’m not sure what on earth this thing is. Some kind of flower? I don’ have a clue. It looks almost otherworldly, but was really just growing in a thick patch of greenery right next to the beach near our cabins on Milford Lake, Kansas. One thing I have learned about these big bumblebees is that they aren’t super fast, especially compared to some of their smaller, more nimble, counterparts and when they land on a food source they like to stick around for a few seconds. Just long enough, at least some of the time, to fire off a few snaps of the shutter.
Autofocus and exposure settings are key, obviously, but one other component of this shot that I was really trying to keep in mind was lighting. This image would have been find if lit from the front, but composing it in such a way (i.e. moving myself and my camera) that the sun was above and to the rear of the bee and the, um, flower? elevated the composition to a new level. It looks like the subjects are glowing, and the bee, in the midst of a nectar snack, has a sense of kinetic energy and life that would be missing if lit differently. It was a good reminder that even though I haven’t yet gotten my shot of a bee next to a flower, there’s still lots and lots of great photographs out there just waiting to be taken.