Red Mason Bee

Images of undisturbed subjects in their natural environment. All subject types.

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Dalantech
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Red Mason Bee

Post by Dalantech »

After an afternoon storm stopped I went looking for something to shoot and found this waterlogged male Red Mason Bee in a flower covered in pollen (the things on it's eyes that look like rice grains are pollen). I used the magnification to help isolate the subject. At lower mag there was just too much stuff in the foreground for a decent image.

Tech Specs: Canon 80D (F11, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens (almost 4x and 5x) + a diffused MT-26EX RT (E-TTL metering with -1/3 FEC). This is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held. In post I used Topaz Sharpen AI, Denoise AI, and Clarity in that order.

ImageRed Mason Bee by John Kimbler, on Flickr

ImageRed Mason Bee II by John Kimbler, on Flickr

aveslux
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Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 6:13 am

Post by aveslux »

Amazing work as always John, you always get the most I've ever out of that MP-E 65. Has your lighting diffusion setup changed recently? I believe you were trying out some new materials?

Dalantech
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

aveslux wrote:Amazing work as always John, you always get the most I've ever out of that MP-E 65. Has your lighting diffusion setup changed recently? I believe you were trying out some new materials?
Thanks!

I modified my diffusers again last November -never seems to end as I'm always sweating the light. I've been using 1/4 stop white silk for a couple of years as an internal diffusion step, just getting better at creating some separation between the layers. This video shows the design I was using before the last change, but it's still pretty close to what I'm using now. I'm happy with the way that the specular highlights look, although I'm always trying to improve the diffusion and at the same time lose no more than two stops because of it. Gotta keep the flash duration as short as possible cause it doesn't take much motion to amplify diffraction softening, especially since diffraction is already taking my lunch money at F11.

As for the depth of field: I pick an area where I want the focus to start, like the bee's mandibles, and then I twist the camera in my hand to lay the area of acceptable focus over the curve of the subject's head. The end result is a "magic angle" that creates the illusion that there is more depth in the scene than what's really available. I'm just not wasting it. I had to add "this is a single, uncropped, frame taken hand held" to the tech specs under my photos cause I got tired of people asking me "how many frames did you take for that stack?". Still get asked that question from time to time, I guess cause reading is hard ;)

The muscle memory for creating those magic angles is automatic now -rarely have to think about it. Had a European Wool Carder bee wake up while I was shooting it last year and still managed to catch the "action shot":

ImageWool Carder Bee on the Move by John Kimbler, on Flickr

MarkSturtevant
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Post by MarkSturtevant »

Very good. I wonder if the camera twisting trick is a bit like creating a tilt-shift effect with the lens. That would slant the plane of focus down one side of the subject.
A few years ago I tried to immobilize a carder bee. It was not having it. Chilling, carbon dioxide. Those bees just don't want to hold still!
Mark Sturtevant
Dept. of Still Waters

Dalantech
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Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2008 6:57 am

Post by Dalantech »

MarkSturtevant wrote:Very good. I wonder if the camera twisting trick is a bit like creating a tilt-shift effect with the lens. That would slant the plane of focus down one side of the subject.
It's very similar, although an actual tilt shift lens can move the focal plane in ways that would break my wrist if I tried it myself ;)
MarkSturtevant wrote: A few years ago I tried to immobilize a carder bee. It was not having it. Chilling, carbon dioxide. Those bees just don't want to hold still!
I go looking for them at night right before sundown and note their location so I can shoot them early the next day. They won't stay dormant forever, but I can usually pull off a few frames before they get active. They like to sleep in my Lavender:

ImageSnoozing European Wool Carder Bee XII by John Kimbler, on Flickr

If you look at where the Lavender stalk gets sharp and follow that all the way up to the bee you can see just how much I'm tilting the camera.

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