Bee Happy

One of the main artistic challenges in photography is understanding how lines, shapes and colours interact. On a macro scale, these fundamental elements are more in your control than any other area of photography. You become the architect of a scene worth photographing at exactly the right moment!

For this image, I found a beautifully blue flower and decided to build my image around it. Elsewhere in the gardens we currently have a very vibrant daisy-like flower which was selected to be placed in the background. It’s held in place with a flexible clamp that can be quickly repositioned based on the location of the “subject”, which would be the next insect to wander onto the blue flower.

I waited for that insect to arrive. And waited. And waited a little longer. Nothing. You can build a perfect “stage”, but what happens if the actor doesn’t show? Ideally a bee, an ant, hoverfly, wasp, ladybug, ANYTHING would bring a scene like this to life, so I set out to find my actor.

Some nearby flowers were seeing a lot of activity from bees, so I waited until I found an interesting little guy, and they covered the patch of flowers with a light mist. Bees don’t like to fly when their wings are wet, and they would dry in a few quick minutes, but I was able to carefully lift this little bee and move him into position while he waited for his wings to dry. Seconds after this image was taken, the bee took off to continue the hunt for pollen.

The image was lit with two off-camera flashes: one speedlite and one ring flash. The ring flash was taped to a metal post designed to keep plants growing straight, and the speedlite was mounted on my Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod, both flashes attached to wireless receivers. A black umbrella is also attached to the tripod (I love gaffer’s tape) to create the best lighting conditions. Here’s a photo of the setup: donkom.ca/bts/bee-happy-bts.jpg

The opportunities in macro photography are truly endless. If you add just a little bit of pre-planning to your images, you can vastly improve your results. The colours in this image are so bright and saturated, it just makes me happy. Hence the name of the image!

click image for larger version