The photos in this post were from the second visit to Wisley Gardens in recent weeks. On the first visit I attempted to take some close-up macro shots of bees, handheld, with a 36mm extension tube on a 100mm macro lens.

Sadly, and probably predictably with them being handheld, it was a failure…

My movements, the flowers movement in the gentle breeze, and the bees movements all conspired together to make it impossible to get anything in focus at such a shallow focus plane.

On this second attempt I resorted to a simple 35mm f1.8 RF lens which is a macro lens, of sorts. The results were surprising, given it’s not a ‘proper’ macro lens, it did quite well in the first real time I’ve used it. Given the price it’s actually a capable lens (and lightweight).

Wisley Gardens Bee

Considering this is the first time I’ve used the 35mm lens I’m really surprised at the colour representation, and the sharpness, it’s not an L lens so doesn’t stand up to that level of scrutiny, but good all the same.

Now the real shot I wanted was a close-up photo of a bee on one of the flowers, and thankfully there were enough bees to make that a relatively easy task. Well, mostly an easy task. Having a bee sit on a flower isn’t as interesting as having it mid-flight and with its pointy thing in a flower. I stood for a while bent over a flower with bee’s flying around, hoping, waiting for one to drop in on the flower I had fixated my focus on. Eventually it did, and you can see the resulting image below.

Wisley Gardens Bee
Caught with its nose in the cookie jar

Caught mid feast, one of the best parts of the image is the motion blur of the wings, it lends a sense of motion and speed to the image. Thankfully I was able to snap a few photos before it went on its merry way to do the same to another flower, I considered following it around, but I didn’t want to end up a victim if it’s horrible sting.

Moving to another location at Wisley I think manage to get a relatively (although I could have probably got closer) close photo of a bee side on doing the same thing.

Wisley Gardens Bee

Finally, I managed to get a shot of two bees either side of a flower, it conjures up images of a ballet or synchronised dancing. Sadly, it wasn’t as close up as I could have got, it was a bit further into the depth of flowers and I wasn’t able to lean in as far. But I really do like the slightly backlit light on the green leaves, look at the smooth pattern on them, it looks almost like a painting.

Wisley Gardens Bee
Bee Duet

Next time maybe the third time will be the charm, I’ll have to try the extension tubes again, I’ve always preferred the macro shots from the 100mm macro lens, and with some practice and luck I may eventually be able to get some more images handheld with even more detail and even more close-up.

Posted in: Photography