Bee on Iris, Golden Gate Park, CA

Bee on Iris, Golden Gate Park, California

What luck! A bee just arrived on the flower I am about to photograph. Even better luck, the bee landed just in the right place. I see it is just standing on the flower as if trying to decide what to do next. Everything is perfect as I release the shutter, capturing a wonderful macro scene...then I wake up from my nap.

My approach to photographing a flower is to first find one that interests me. Then I look for the angle from which I want to photograph it. I consider the lighting, what to include in the background (if anything), depth of field, length of exposure, how I might need to edit the file before making a print, and what media would best express the feeling of what I saw and felt at the time of exposure. All, or most, of these elements need to be considered quickly. How does that happen? Practice!    

As I usually use a tripod and cable release with the camera, I set these up and compose the subject. Most of the time I use a small aperture for greater depth of field and a low ISO for smoother (less noisy) files. That makes for some long exposures. Here's where the fun begins. I wait, and wait, and wait, until the flower stops moving. Concentrating on the movement I observe the flower from the camera position, not by standing back. Any movement of the flower will cause a fuzzy final image. Even on "calm" days, flowers can move...a lot (you can feel the slightest movement of air if you pay attention). If I think the flower has stopped moving I'll wait another second, but waiting can also mean another small puff of breeze will start the flower moving again.

Having a bee land on the flower can create more movement. Now you have the bee running around on the petals and the breeze blowing back and forth. Stay with it, don't give up. There is a real sense of satisfaction when everything comes together and you know you have it right in the camera.