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Author Topic: Honey Bee photography  (Read 871 times)
GACrossRider
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« on: January 26, 2014, 12:37:17 PM »

What is the best setup for photographing honey bees?
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Joe D
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« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2014, 10:31:09 AM »

I take a few pic's of my bees, but I couldn't say what is the best set up.  I do some with a cheap camera, and some with a Cannon T2i.  I have a coupe of lenses for the Cannon.  But I'm not a photographer.




Joe
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10framer
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« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2014, 10:47:05 AM »

it depends on what you're trying to shoot.  i use a 100mm macro lens for some things like bees on the landing board or flowers but if i'm trying to get pictures of frames as i go through the hive i use a 40mm lens with the camera mounted on a tripod and either a remote or the timer function on the camera.

joe, get yourself the 40mm f/2.8 pancake.  it's high quality glass for less than 200 dollars.
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GLOCK
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2014, 08:45:43 PM »

I don't know if it's the best setup for photographing but my OLYMPUS  TOUGH water proof is great for bee pics and you can get it as messy as you want and it cleans up.
http://www.amazon.com/Olympus-Stylus-Digital-Camera-Optical/dp/B00AQ2BWP4/ref=sr_1_1/176-0693346-0440318?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1390959727&sr=1-1&keywords=olympus+stylus+tough+waterproof
Here's a couple pics.



Just saying great little Camera
« Last Edit: January 28, 2014, 09:00:50 PM by GLOCK » Logged

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Joe D
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« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2014, 10:49:13 PM »

You have a Cordovan queen looks like.  I had Cordovan queens, needed a new ones last year, couldn't find one and installed a Russian.  Nice pics



Joe
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SamboRoberts
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2014, 03:06:00 AM »

What is the best setup for photographing honey bees?

There is no 'best' set up. You can take some bloody awesome pics of bees with the cheapest of cameras. This was taken before I started keeping bees.

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rdy-b
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2014, 03:21:00 AM »

You have a Cordovan queen looks like.  I had Cordovan queens, needed a new ones last year, couldn't find one and installed a Russian.  Nice pics



Joe
yes but oviously not mated with a gordovan drone-unless the paretage of the work force was of difartan lenyage than the queen
the color of the Exoskeletion says much more about the drone father than most give creadit for-the pic dose not display
gordovan overtones in the work force--RDY-B
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ugcheleuce
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2014, 03:55:49 AM »

What is the best setup for photographing honey bees?


Last year I downloaded this lecture and found it quite enlightening:

http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/News/Alex_Wild__How_to_Take_Better_Insect_Photographs/
How to Take Better Insect Photographs


Your question got me interested in googling youtube again, and I found two or three other lectures that seem interesting, but I'll report back if any of them are any good.

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Samuel Murray, Ugchelen, Netherlands
6 hives in 3 locations (4 x Buckfast F2++, 2 x Ligustica F1+)
phrasmotic
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2014, 01:54:36 PM »

It really depends on what type of photography you want to do.  If all you are interested in is snaps of bees working the flowers in your backyard, then any decent P&S with macro capability will do.  If you want to get closer though, or you want higher resolution and better overall image quality then you're going to need a DSLR.  The question then becomes what lens to use.  Many multi-purpose zoom lenses offer a pseudo-macro functionality that is actually pretty good.  Take for instance some of the Tamron or Sigma 70-300mm lenses that have been produced over the past couple decades.  All are relatively inexpensive and you'll get WAY better pictures than with a P&S.  But if you want 1:1 or greater resolution (that is, if you want to see every hair on the bee's body, every lens in its compound eyes), then you'll need a dedicated prime (fixed focal length) lens with macro capability.

My current macro setup is a 135mm prime lens (I'm on a Pentax platform, so to be more specific, it's the Pentax SMC M 135mm f3.5).  I also use a set of cheap extension tubes, which greatly reduces the minimum focus distance.  The tubes make a HUGE difference and you can usually buy them for $10 or so.  Finally, I use a +10 diopter screwed on to the filter ring.

I've tried various different combinations of lenses, tubes, filters, etc., and the above setup seems to work best.  Set your camera for continuous shooting.  F/5 or so.  ISO as high as your camera will go without getting grainy.  In aperture priority mode the camera will choose the fastest possible aperture based on these settings.  In manual focus mode, turn the focus ring to the closest possible focusing position and move the camera back and forth while continuously holding down the shutter button.  You'll end up deleting lots of photos because they aren't in focus, but you'll get plenty of really good ones too.  You'll find that the depth of field is extremely shallow in macro shots.  The best way around it is to use a focus stacking tool like Helicon, which works quite well.
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merince
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« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2014, 04:18:58 PM »

Really timely topics - I was researching the same thing today. Thank you for the tips, phrasmotic!
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10framer
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2014, 05:03:39 PM »

phrasmotic, have you ever tried hdr with a macro lens?  i'd never considered it and i'm not sure a bee would sit still long enough to do it in most situations but it would probably look pretty cool when it worked. 
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phrasmotic
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« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2014, 09:26:19 AM »

10framer, I have tried it with some macro shots but never with insects.  The main problem is that the darn critters keep moving around, so you get a slightly different image with each frame.  This can be a problem with focus stacked images too, but you can sometimes get around it if only part of the insect (a leg, an antennae etc) moves between frames.  Most focus stacking software can deal with that.  Not so with HDR, as it will try to interpret both images and blend them, which will be a blur.

Honestly, after enjoying a few years of great popularity, HDR is falling out of favor.  Newer cameras can accommodate a much wider dynamic range because they have better sensors with deeper well capacity.  This makes HDR unnecessary except perhaps in extreme cases.  Even consumer DSLRs (and mirrorless) can capture 12 or 13 stops of dynamic range or something crazy like that these days.  If you shoot in RAW mode, pretty much all of that range will be available to you when you process the image.  Not the case if you shoot JPEGs.  A good reason to always shoot RAW!

Also, I don't think you'd really gain much by shooting bees in HDR.  Nearly every macro shot I've taken, be it jewelry, snowflakes, insects, whatever, all seem to have a narrow dynamic range anyway.  If you look at the histogram, they all have a nice bell shaped curve.  It's sometimes useful to boost clarity and/or contrast and/or micro-contrast, but you don't need HDR to do this.

If you really like the HDR look, try processing a single image with tone mapping.  Photomatix can do this.  Not sure about other HDR programs. 
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10framer
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2014, 10:02:11 AM »

i've never done any hdr photography.  it just crossed my mind when you brought up stacking the images.  
i think my camera has in camera hdr capabilities of some kind but i've never messed with it.  
i like my macro lens a lot but i haven't spent as much time using it as i'd like.  it's probably the sharpest lens i own but you have to stop it down like crazy to get any depth of field.  i suspect if i was shooting at f/22 with a lot of my lenses they'd be sharper than i think.  anyway, don't want to hijack this thread.
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phrasmotic
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« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2014, 11:29:13 AM »

Yeah, it's a catch 22 (forgive the pun).   Smiley
At F/22 you'd get decent depth of field but not enough light, which would force you to use a shutter speed which is way too slow.  Diffraction also starts to be a problem at higher apertures, so it might not be as sharp as you'd think.

As I mentioned earlier, some of the longer zooms with pseudo-macro capability may be the best way to go for many people.  You can't get as close to the subject, though that may not necessarily be a bad thing, as bees tend to buzz off when you stick a lens in their face.  Also, standing back a bit definitely helps with the depth of field problem.  So as long as you don't need super high magnification (or eye-bleeding sharpness), these lenses are a nice option.

Side note, limited DOF is not necessarily always a problem.  It is most critical to get the insect's eyes in sharp focus.  Everything else is less important, and you may even appreciate the out of focus areas.  Particularly if the bee is working a flower and you can pick up some creamy, swirly, blurred-focus flower colors in the background.  That could be a great shot, as long as the eyes are in focus.
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10framer
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2014, 11:38:56 AM »

yeah, i might be exaggerating the f/22 a bit but i probably do shoot at f/16 a good bit with it.  i have a 300mm prime that i can do some macro with and a 70-200 zoom that's ok for it but the zoom is heavy and the 300 is if i add a t/c.  the 100mm macro is the sharpest of them.  if i use my crop body i do get a noise problem with moderate shutter speeds.  i see why the full frame snobs are what they are, the 7d is a good camera but it's noisy.  it seems like canon could put out a crop body that can handle the high iso as well as the 5diii. 
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phrasmotic
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« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2014, 11:54:28 AM »

Yeah I'd have to sell a lot of honey to make enough to buy a full frame.   Smiley 
That's OK - some of the newer APS-C sensors are fantastic in low light anyway.  Probably still the best option for 99.9% of everybody.
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10framer
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2014, 12:02:26 PM »

you can buy an old 5d for 500 dollars these days.  a lot of times for landscape i'll pick it up before i will the 5diii.  lately i haven't been using any of my cameras enough to justify the money i've sunk into the "hobby" over the last several years.  if i was smart i'd sell some equipment and sink the money into bees.
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