Tag Archives: insect

Struggling with Bee Photography

The flowers were out on some of the plants in our front yard and they were attracting the bees, so I decided to try again to get some bee shots.  Rather than try and follow the bees around the flowers, I decided to see the camera up on a mount aligned with one flower and wait for the bees to come there.  I used a cable release so I could sit back a bit and wait.  This did require the plant to stay steady which, when the wind was blowing, was far from guaranteed.

I was sitting so still for a long time as I waited that a rabbit came walking across the yard to nibble some leaves that were by my feet.  Since I wasn’t moving, it was totally oblivious to me.  Rather than spook it by trying to get my phone out to photograph it, I let it eat in peace.  It wandered off soon enough.

The bees dutifully showed up in my flower from time to time.  I wasn’t sure how well the shots were coming out since I was just triggering with the cable release when things were in roughly the right place.  I didn’t know whether the autofocus was going to choose the bee or part of the plant.  There were plenty of misses, but we did get a few good shots where the bees were in shot, in focus and interesting enough.  I was pleasantly surprised how many shots actually worked out.  I had been quite pessimistic when taking the shots, so this was more successful than I had expected.

A Shield Bug – Looks Like a Stinkbug

I was out in the garden of our place in Stockbridge and was surprised by how many ladybirds and flies I saw on the leaves.  Then I saw something a bit different.  I reminded me of the stink bugs we see in Washington.  According to Ian, who was in the yard shortly afterwards, it is a shield bug.  In all my years in the UK, I had never heard of or seen one of these.  Now I have.

Butterfly on the Lavender

While playing with the macro lens, I have spent plenty of time watching the insects in the back yard as they feed on the flowers.  The butterflies are quite fascinating as they have a proboscis that they curl up when they are not using and then extend to extract the nectar from the flowers.  As I was observing them at work, it occurred to me that the stills didn’t really give a good way of seeing what they are doing.  Instead, I switched to video and filmed them as they fed on our lavender bushes.  Here is some video of them busily getting fed!

https://youtu.be/OpzZAb30sZs

Beetle on the Acer

Walking through the backyard, I noticed a colorful looking beetle on one of the branches of our Japanese maple.  Did I shoo it off?  Of course not.  I ran to get the camera instead.  The bug flipped around the branch as I returned and was showing its underside instead which was not what I wanted.  I got a shot or two just in case and then waited to see if it would turn over again.  Thankfully, it did and I was able to get something closer to the shot that I had originally envisaged.

Wasp Hunting Grilled Chicken

I was listening to an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage that was discussing wasps versus bees.  As part of the conversation, one of the contributors mentioned that wasps like sweet things early in the season when they are feeding their young but, later in the year, they are only feeding themselves and they want protein (or the other way around if I have remembered incorrectly). I didn’t know anything about this before but then, shortly afterwards, we were sitting out on the deck after dinner and a wasp landed on a plate and then flew off with a chunk of chicken.  This chunk was almost as big as it was.

A week later, we were back out on the deck and, with dinner done, a wasp came back to check out the leftovers.  This time I was ready with my phone.  Sure enough, it landed on my plate, checked out a piece of corn and then homed in on some chicken.  A few bites later, it had extracted its meal and got airborne and away.  I had my video proof, so I was happy.  It came back for a second piece a little while later, so I guess it was storing food for later.

Why Am I Struggling with the Butterflies?

The flowers in our back yard are very popular with butterflies and, with nice evening light in the garden, I was bound to drag out the macro lens.  However, when I tried getting some shots, the camera was having a really hard time focusing.  I often ended up using the manual focus ring to get something close when the camera kept focusing on the background.  I had struggled with a couple of other subjects previously and I was beginning to get really annoyed.  This was not a cheap lens, and the camera certainly isn’t cheap but why wouldn’t it focus on a butterfly?  I was using animal mode so thought it would cope.

I ended up trying different focus area modes.  Narrowing it down to the small focus spot and moving that around by hand rather than using the subject detection modes was my next effort.  I seemed to have some better luck, but it still was unreliable and was giving me a red box around the focus area.  Why wouldn’t it work.  I took a look in the menus to see if there was something in there which was going to be an issue but nothing there either.  I was beginning to be fearful I had a dud.  Then I noticed something.  The focus limit switch had moved from the full range to having a minimum focus distance of 0.5m.  That would certainly be an issue.  Put it back to where it should have been and suddenly the focus was working perfectly.  What a dope.  Not sure when I had knocked that switch but it might have been a while back.  Doh!

Bloody Great Bee!

The plants in our backyard attract a lot of insects and we get plenty of bees hanging out on sunny days.  One of our hanging baskets gets a reasonable amount of attention but not a lot.  However, one bee showed up on a Sunday afternoon and got our attention.  First, it stayed on the basket for ages climbing over the same flowers repeatedly unlike the usual bee behavior or constantly moving from flower to flower.  The other reason for our attention was the size of the thing.  It was huge compared to our average bees.  I wonder if it got so large by removing every morsel of nutrient from each flower!

The Motion Of A Caterpillar

I have recently come across a couple of caterpillars during my wanderings.  One of them was in the parking lot at work while another was out on a trail.  Caterpillars are strange creatures because they only have a few “legs” which are bunch up together with one other at the other end of the body.  No doubt, a specialist would be cringing right now at the inadequacy of my description.  The result is that the motion of the body is quite complex.  Video is the best way to demonstrate this so I used the phone to get some footage including when the sun angle really helped to emphasize the complexity of the movement.

Killdeer Versus The Worm

While I was down at Juanita Bay one weekend, a killdeer was hanging out on a muddy flat near me. It was busy extracting worms from the mud to snack on.  The worms were not totally onboard with this plan and they were doing their best to stay in the mud.  Some times the killdeer won the struggle and sometimes the worm did!

Butterflies Or Moths?

A bit of a Google search on the distinguishing characteristics of butterflies versus moths helped me out a bit but I don’t think it was quite as clear cut as I was hoping.  We have a fluttering insect that seems to like our lavender plants a lot.  I spent a little time one evening trying to get some shots of them at work.  They don’t stay on any one section for long so a little patience and luck is in order.  I didn’t know whether they were moths or butterflies.  I think that they might be butterflies but, if they aren’t please don’t be too harsh in the comments.