Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tips for Photographing Insects on Flowers

April 28, 2012 @ 7:25AM 20 Tips for Insects on Flowers Macro Shots of Insects in the Field

Photographing insects on flowers can be hugely rewarding as well as immensely frustrating – especially when the quarry takes flight, just before the shutter is released. Having spent the last four years concentrating on flowers and their pollinators I'm able to share some of the pitfalls which, if overcome, can make insect photography infinitely more rewarding.

No doubt we all have our own little foibles and preferred techniques. If they work out fine, then carry on using them; but hopefully there maybe a few tips here which will help to increase your success rate. Larger insects such as butterflies are easier than solitary bees or hoverflies because you don't have to get so close to fill the frame. I know it is easy to crop an image afterwards, but the aim should be to fill much of the frame with the flower and the insect. There is nothing wrong with slight cropping, but try to avoid anything too drastic, since you will just end up with a much smaller file size – OK for posting on the internet, but not for making a good-sized print or winning a competition!

I can recall a guy I met many years ago who was using a twin reflex camera with film to take his insects. When I queried this, his answer was he could get a frame-filling shot by cutting the 6 x 6 cm film down to 35mm! Quite apart from the extra cost of film and processing, there was the time spent cutting the transparencies and mounting them.

If you are just starting on insect photography, how do you decide where to go to shoot? There are certain flowers, which are particularly attractive to insects – either because they produce copious pollen for pollen feeders or tempting nectar for the nectar feeders.

Nowadays it's possible to do a web search for flowers that attract insects by searching for any of the following so you can look out for them in gardens or in the wild or even plant some in your own garden.
plants for pollinators
butterfly plants
bee plants
Here is a list of pollinator plants compiled by The Royal Horticultural Society for UK gardens and one for US gardens which has 31 regional downloadable guides with relevant native plants listed.
Some of the best insect plants are not always especially attractive to our eyes. I am thinking of the flat-headed umbels such as cow parsley or Queen Anne's lace, which are just coming into flower in southern England. To insects, the umbel is like a big dinner plate on which several insects can dine at the same time.
Insects won't fly if it is raining or windy, but once rain stops and the sun appears it won't be long before insects emerge form their cover to feed. Temperature is also important, as many insects need to warm up their flight muscles before they can take to the air.
It often pays to watch the way each type of insect feeds. Those that make fleeting visits are always tricky to photograph because you hardly have time to focus before they are off to another flower. Once a bee fly decides which flower to visit, it hovers to feed or else rests its long legs on the flower itself and spends some time extracting the nectar with its long proboscis that sticks out in front of the head as it flies low over the ground. Bee flies take a while to warm up and won't take to the wing unless the temperature is around 17ยบ C. Even then, they repeatedly stop feeding to sunbathe

The time of day is another factor, because this not only affects the time when flowers open their petals, but also when they secret nectar. For example, evening primrose produces nectar at dusk to coincide with the time the flower begins to open for its nocturnal pollinators.

Virtually all these shots were taken with either the 105mm micro-Nikkor or the 70-180mm micro- Nikkor zoom lenses.
Here are my main tips.
1. In early spring, with cold nights, it is pointless going out too early as insects won't have warmed up enough to fly.
2. Some insects overnight in flowers and so are easy to take when they are still comatose.
3. Insects are more approachable before they fully warm up, because they are less active and tend to linger longer on flowers.
4. When approaching, avoid sudden jerky movements.
5. Avoid casting a shadow over the flower from either your body or the camera.
6. Try to get the sensor plane parallel with the top of the insect, if looking down on it, or from the side if taking a butterfly with closed wings.

7. Longer macro lenses such as 200mm will give a greater working distance than shorter ones.
8. Forget using a tripod; it is much more flexible to work on the hoof.
9. Switch on VR or IS to reduce the risk of camera shake.
10. To gain a closer viewpoint for low growing flowers, crouch down carefully with one knee on the ground and the other raised to support an elbow.
11.Try to fill a good part of the frame with the insect.
12. For crisp shots of active insects, either use a fast shutter speed or preferably a flash mounted with the camera on a flash bracket.

13. Use a wireless speedlight system such as the Nikon R1C1 SU-800 with two SB-R200 flash units fitted on a ring around the lens (or used one unit off the lens to gain backlighting) for speedy boosting macro lighting.

14. For a butterfly, a bee or hoverfly feeding, a head-on shot shows the structure of the proboscis as it probes the flower for nectar.

15. In poor light and on windy days, increase the ISO to gain a faster shutter speed.
16. Vary the format; remember to shoot some verticals as well as horizontals.
17. To control the depth of field use either use either Aperture Priority or Manual Exposure Mode so you can select the most appropriate aperture.
18. Stop down the lens to gain a greater depth of field or open up the aperture for more creative shots.
19. Locate bumblebees by listening for their distinctive buzz and bee flies from the whine made by their wings.
 20. Don't shoot insect backsides – unless you want to record a diagnostic feature for aiding a correct ID!
Have fun!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Forget WiFi, Connect to the Internet Through Lightbulbs


Posted by truther on April 23, 2012

Whether you’re using wireless internet in a coffee shop, stealing it from the guy next door, or competing for bandwidth at a conference, you’ve probably gotten frustrated at the slow speeds you face when more than one device is tapped into the network. As more and more people—and their many devices—access wireless internet, clogged airwaves are going to make it increasingly difficult to latch onto a reliable signal. But radio waves are just one part of the spectrum that can carry our data. What if we could use other waves to surf the internet? One German physicist, Harald Haas, has come up with a solution he calls “data through illumination”—taking the fiber out of fiber optics by sending data through an LED lightbulb that varies in intensity faster than the human eye can follow. It’s the same idea behind infrared remote controls, but far more powerful. Haas says his invention, which he calls D-Light, can produce data rates faster than 10 megabits per second, which is speedier than your average broadband connection. He envisions a future where data for laptops, smartphones, and tablets is transmitted through the light in a room. And security would be a snap—if you can’t see the light, you can’t access the data. You can imagine all kinds of uses for this technology, from public internet access through street lamps to auto-piloted cars that communicate through their headlights. And more data coming through the visible spectrum could help alleviate concerns that the electromagnetic waves that come with WiFi could adversely affect your health. Talk about the bright side.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

"When the Wind Stopped" Very short illustrated poem

When the wind stopped it was quiet very quiet.

A hundred tornadoes had wiped out towns in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Here on Lake Michigan the water had turned purple then black.

"The lake is angry",  my father said,  and it was.

Then it wasn't.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


After taking a macro photograph of his own eye using a Samsung WB500 compact camera, Jarroseph was startled to find that the photograph showed his own face reflected in his eyeball. His face had reflected off the front of the lens, off his eyeball, and then into the camera! (via Reddit via Photojojo) REMEMBER, THE BEST CAMERA IS THE ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Speaker and Canon 5D Mark II Make Water Appear to FLOAT

Fill a bucket full of water and place it about 5 feet off the ground. Place a subwoofer about 1 foot lower than the bucket. Run a plastic tube from the top bucket down in front of the subwoofer. Tape the tube to the front of the speaker. Then aim the end of the tube to an empty bucket on the floor. Get the water flowing from the top bucket. Now just generate a 24 hz sine wave and set your camera to 24 fps and watch the magic happen. Basically your cameras frame rate is synced up with the rate of the vibrations of the water so it appears to be frozen or still. Now if you play a 23 hz sine wave your frame rate will be off just a little compared to the sine wave causing the water to “move backward” or so as it appears. You can play a 25 hz sine wave and cause the water to move slowly forward. Simple explanation of hertz here. To SET THE CAMERA:Overview of new Canon 5D Mark II 24 fps HD video firmware Overview of new Canon 5D Mark II 24 FPS HD video firmware update version 2.0.3. Link to download this is here. Canon USA firmware here.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Yves Rossy, Airman, Jetman, Rocketman and, later, Fusionman!

AWESOME! Swiss pilot Yves Rossy has completed a formation flight alongside two Albatross jets above the Swiss Alps. After 10 years of development and more than 15 prototypes, Rossy used a wing he'd created with four model jet engines to fly for five minutes and 40 seconds. He carried only an altimeter and a tiny throttle control. Enjoy Real Life Flying On 120 Different Planes at http://www.ProFlightSimulator.up.to In May 2008, the 52-year-old made his first official flight over the Swiss Alps in front of the media. Rossy crossed the English Channel in September 2008 by air and the event was broadcast live to 165 countries. It took him 13 minutes. Since then, Rossy has flown alongside two Boeing Stearman biplanes carrying the Breitling Wingwalkers, circled a hot-air balloon and hurtled over the Grand Canyon. The ultimate dream of flight - soaring through the air, with total freedom in all three dimensions, not within a heavy and complicated machine but with only one's body and sensations - a dream everybody had at least once in their life. JETMAN made it real. Test flights in Swiss airspace. Rossy developed and built a system comprising a back pack with semi-rigid aeroplane-type carbon-fiber wings with a span of about 2.4 metres (7.9 ft), powered by four attached Jet-Cat P200 jet engines[2] modified from large-model, kerosene fueled, aircraft engines. His first flight occurred in November 2006 in Bex,[3] lasting nearly six minutes and nine seconds. Yves later successfully flew across the English Channel on 26 September 2008 in 9 minutes 7 seconds,[4] reaching a speed of 299 km/h (186 mph) during the crossing.[5] Later in 2008, he made a flight over the Alps, reaching a top descent speed of 304 km/h (189 mph) and an average speed of 124 mph.[6][7] Jet-powered wing In November 2009, Rossy attempted a crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar, hoping to be the first person to fly between two continents using a jetpack. He leapt from a small plane about 1,950 m (6,500 ft) above Tangier in Morocco in the direction of Atlanterra in Spain. The flight was expected to take about a quarter of an hour but, due to strong winds and cloud banks, Rossy ditched into the sea, to be picked up ten minutes later by his support helicopter three miles from the Spanish coast. He was flown to a hospital in Jerez, and later released unhurt. The Spanish Coast Guard later retrieved the jetpack (which had a parachute and a float).[8][9][10][11] On 5 November 2010, he flew a new version of his jet-powered flight system and successfully performed two aerial loops before landing via parachute. He launched from a hot air balloon piloted by Brian Jones at 2,400 meters (7,900 feet) and flew a total of 18 minutes before landing. The wingspan of Rossy's latest craft had been reduced to 2 m.[12][13] On 7 May 2011, Rossy flew across the Grand Canyon in Arizona, after the United States Federal Aviation Administration classified his flight system as an aircraft, waived the normal 25 to 40 hours of flight testing time, and granted him permission to perform the flight.[14][15] Yves served as a fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force, flying Dassault Mirage IIIs, Northrop F-5 Tiger IIs and Hawker Hunters. He flew Boeing 747s for Swissair. As of 2008, he was flying for Swiss International Air Lines.[16] Swiss pilot Yves “Jetman” Rossy has taken his jet-powered backpack wing into new territory, flying in formation with a pair of jets. His recent flight over Switzerland demonstrates the increasing level of control Rossy has with his four-engined wing. He was recently featured on an episode of Stan Lee's Superhumans.[17]