Photo Journal: The Bumble Bee

This was my first attempt at capturing a live bee.

Bumble Bee Close

Setup:

I used my Nikon D5300 with my Nikkor 55-300mm lens. In order to get a fairly large depth of field, I set the F-stop to F/20. The lens is also the sharpest when you operate it at this F-stop. Because I wanted to capture all the hairs on the bee with detail, this F-stop was perfect. Because I was standing quite a distance away and didn’t want to disturb the bees, I had to use a focal length of around 300mm. And because I did not have a tripod, I needed a fast shutter speed. I set it to 1/320 of a second.

Side note: Even with the in-lens vibration reduction, I didn’t want to leave the quality of the image up to chance. Chances are, I could have probably gotten away with around 1/250 and still be fine. However, this was a one-chance shot, and I didn’t want to lose it.

Because I was shooting at such a small aperture and such a high shutter speed, I had to compensate for the loss of light by pushing the ISO up to 400. I was somewhat lucky that the day was sunny, otherwise I might have had to go up to ISO 1200 to get a decent exposure.

Final Result:

Bumble Bee

Thoughts:

My initial intent was to capture the bee with the pollen stuck to its leg. But as luck would have it, another bee decided to join its friend just as I was taking the shot. I think the shot looks really great.

Strangely enough, my biggest concern was ensure that I’d get the exposure right. As I mentioned earlier, I was willing to turn the ISO up if need be, but after thinking about it a little bit more, I’d have also been willing to take the photo slightly under-exposed and then just adjust the exposure in post-processing.

Speaking of which, there was very little post-processing involved with this photo. The colors you see here and pretty accurate. I had to slightly tune the exposure to reduce it a little bit and touch the saturation up a tiny bit (2 units) to get the yellow of the flower to pop out.

Overall, I’m quite happy with it and it required relatively cheap camera gear.

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