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My first attempts this year at shooting this species of Mason Bee (Osmia latreillei). I've set the images up as hyperlinks that will take you to my Deviant Art site when you click on them, and if you click on the images at my Deviant Art site they will expand to 1600 pixels wide.

I was about a meter away from the female when the male tackled her. I had been watching him chase off other males from a group of dandelions that he had staked out as his territory and got lucky when the female landed on one of his flowers. Tech specs: Canon 40D (F13, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MPE-65mm macro lens (@1x) + a diffused MT-24EX (-1 FEC).



I put down a little honey hoping that one of the males would start feeding on it. It doesn't always work, but when it does I can usually get a few frames. Tech specs: Canon 40D (F13, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MPE-65mm macro lens (@2.5x) + a diffused MT-24EX (-1 FEC).



This shot at five times life size has been stuck in my head for a while so I went out early in the morning (around 7:30) to look for a bee that was still trying to get its metabolism going. Mason bees will typically start foraging when the temperature is as low as 14C, but they need the heat from the sun to help keep them moving. Fortunately I got a break and the skies were partly cloudy -when the sun went behind a cloud it was like flicking a switch and he stopped moving. Tech specs: Canon 40D (F10, 1/250, ISO 100) + a Canon MPE-65mm macro lens (@5x) + a diffused MT-24EX (-1 FEC).



All images taken hand held and with no focus stacking.
 

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Absolutely amazing! The detail is incredible!

Not to make light of your fantastic photos, but my first thought was "That thing looks like a Wookiee!" :D
 

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How did you achieve the black background? Just in awe that you took those handheld!
 

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Thanks folks :)

How did you achieve the black background? Just in awe that you took those handheld!
The black background is due to the flash being the only significant light source in the scene, and it's just turning on long enough to expose the subject. It's also the key to getting sharp images -the shorter the duration of the flash the easier it is to freeze motion and get sharp details.

As for the hand holding: Once you get the technique down it's just muscle memory and mechanics. Takes practice, but I think that anyone can do it.
 

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Dalantech, i am always awed by your spectacular bee photos! Breathtaking. :)

Yesterday I got lucky enough to capture a male blue orchard mason be just emerging from his cocoon in my nesting box. Here he is brand new curled wings and all. Five seconds after this he just flew right off into the big world.
 

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How did you achieve the black background?
Some of the high end photo editing software will also enable you to identify your subject and replace everything else with a solid background color of your choosing. For five or six hundred bucks you can pick up a copy of Adobe Photoshop CS4...and that'll do the trick.
 

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These are fantastic photos! I saw some mason bee hives at the garden store and I'd really like to get a few. I wish I had a camera that could take such wonderful pictures like these.
 
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