One of the more difficult aspects of photographing bugs is to control the setting in which to shoot your subject, more often than not it’s impossible but sometimes you can manage a bit better than what nature has provided.
Such was the case when I shot this bee in the after match of some fairly heavy rain. I went out just after the rain intentionally, hoping to find some cooperative bugs and this bee looked particularly miserable where it was clinging to a flower. Shooting him where he was sitting would have been tricky since it was a rather tall flower and the wind was making it sway back and forth quite a lot.
Seeing how the bee wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere, I picked off the part of the flower it was sitting on and placed it on a moss-covered rock. To further enhance things I then put a couple of leafs behind the bee to get a nicer background (see link and the end of the post for a setup shot). Another thought behind this was to give the light from my flash something to bounce off of in order to get more even light, since there wasn’t much ambient light to work with.
I like the results, I certainly had enough time to try different compositions and make sure I got things in focus, but if I could do it again I would try to find a less busy background. I picked the leafs I did because I liked the colours but when I’m looking at the pictures now I feel it would have been better with something neutral and of solid colour, either that or if I could have gotten closer to get more bee and less background (though that’s unfortunately impossible with my current equipment). That being said, I can’t complain about the detail and focus, I’m quite happy with that. As always, be sure to view the large versions to really appreciate the details, it’s definitely worth it.
In the shot to the left you can see the benefit of a less cluttered and busy background, just compare it to the one above, the subject gets all the attention here. This was actually also a studio shot. We found this guy in the middle of the road on our way home, which is a rather precarious place to be if you hardly reach over the asphalt. I rescued most of him (as you can see he was missing one of his front legs) into a plastic bag and added random leafs to keep him comfortable.
When I got home I put up a little studio on the balcony and used a big green leaf as background. Despite his handicap this guy was crawling around quite a bit but in the end I still got a couple of good shots, I especially like how crisp this one looks and if you look closely you can see what I think is a very small spider in the lower left corner.
In conclusion: sometimes you can make a little effort and improve upon the conditions you’re presented with. However, I must remember to see the picture more as a whole and less as a collection of individual elements. Even though the leafs I used for background were pretty in themselves, they didn’t work together with the rest of the image and instead became a distraction. I’m sure I’ll get more chances to shoot wet bees eventually and by that time I’m sure the results will be even better.