Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Normally, when photographing bees I use my Tamron 90mm macro and flash set up.  They're relatively small, they move quickly and to get the level of detail needed the freezing effect of a strobe is almost essential.  Sometimes, of course, you have to make do with what you've got even if the results are less than optimum.

I was doing some plant photography with the tripod mounted Sigma 180mm macro I bought second hand in October 2012 when I noticed a very agitated carder bee, Bombus pascuorum, close by.  I just had time to quickly move the tripod, focus and grab three shots before the very irritated bee flew off.  Here they are.  Click to embiggen:

Technically they are awful.  Only the second in the sequence has any degree of sharpness.  So why post them?

Because they illustrate just how much effort the bee was making to shake off a parasite.  It can just be seen on the hind legs in the second and third shot.  There may well have been more.  Here's a 100% crop:

Looks a lot like a tick to me.  Small, but obviously intensely irritating.  The bee was shaking itself vigorously and almost rolling around on the leaf in its effort to get rid of the parasite.  Hence the lack of sharpness in the shots.  Respectively they were taken at 1/200, 1/160 and 1/200, f8, ISO 200.  That should have been enough to generate some reasonable sharpness but such was the vigour of the bee in its efforts to rid itself of the unwanted guest(s) that motion blur became inevitable.

That was one irritated bee. 

And here's one I took with the Tamron / flash setup last summer.  Technically way better - but it doesn't tell the same story.

Bombus pascuorum

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