Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Adorable Bee Fly

I’ve been working on a photographic project that I’m posting on the iPhone app Instagram.  It’s a 365 project (though technically it’s a 366 project this year due to leap year) and I’m photographing my insect collection for it.  In part, I hope it helps me become a better insect photographer.  It’s also really fun!

This month, Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday will feature some of the insect portraits I’ve been doing.  Keep in mind I started my insect collection when I was 12 and fumbled my way through insect collecting by trial and error.  The older I get, the better the pinning job gets, so some of these are pinned BADLY.  Ignore the crooked pin behind the curtain!  Look at the pretty insect instead:

Bee fly

Is there anything more adorable than this little bee fly? I think not!

Hope you enjoy the series this month!

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10 responses to “Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Adorable Bee Fly

  1. Well, yes, I guess the bee fly is adorable. But when I think about it in those terms, the stake through its heart is a little disturbing.

    • I’m constantly surprised by the response these photos get. Some people think they’re marvelous, a little insight into another world. Other people respond like you thinking they’re a little sad. Still others think they’re the most horrifying thing they’ve ever seen and oh, how could I do that to a poor insect? To the latter I explain that insect collections, when responsibly developed like mine, are valuable research and/or teaching tools. That usually makes them a little happier.

  2. Poor thing, got impaled and all…

    • I feel I should point out that the fly was dead before it was pinned, so there wasn’t any sort of suffering imposed by pinning. I do also collect very responsibly. I don’t collect as much as I used to anyway, but I have always avoided taking more than a male and a female of any species unless I have a very good reason to do otherwise, I’m mindful of the insects that really need to be left alone to keep their numbers up, and I dispatch anything I intend to add to my collection as quickly as possible. Then I use my collection for research and for outreach events to educate the public about insects. It’s AMAZING how much information you can end up sharing with people as they look through a collection of specimens, even a single box! These photos are sort of a virtual version of that – a means to share the amazing world of insects to people who might not know much about them, hopefully also convincing them to appreciate insects a little more.

  3. I appreciate your comment about the BAD pinning. I am struggling with this as well and have never been instructed about pinning and labeling insects. But my photographic skills aren’t so good either. Wow, that is a furry fly!

    • Yeah, when I started my collection I had NO advice, help, or instructions, so my friend and I learned everything through trial and error. I didn’t learn how to do things properly until a good 4 years later. I also didn’t care so much about making the insects look good at the time, so they’re all crooked and pinned too high or too low or I shoved the pins right through a leg or something. The older specimens look pretty bad! Now I’m super anal, so everything is perfect. Legs are all out neatly and you can see everything on the perfectly positioned insect. It’s quite easy to tell how old a specimen in my collection is just by looking at the pin job!

      Would you like some info about how to pin and label insects? I can send you a few things by e mail that will help!

  4. Are you saying you took this photo with an iPhone?

    The detail is awesome.

    • No, this is a Nikon D80 with a bunch of flashes in a sort of open white box design. I’m just uploading them to an iPhone app when I post them. I can’t take photos with this level of detail with my iPhone. I can come close with the iPhone, but the photos are inevitably too dark and grainy – and the grain just gets worse as you lighten them up.

  5. Ma’am,
    Thank you for this project. It is a great idea. May I suggest that you step away from your scientific bent just a tad and take a moment to say to yourself “what is truly neat about this bug”? I think you will find that it is the face, in most cases. If you note, the wings are going to be out of focus anyway. Try cropping in on the face, don’t worry too much about getting “all the bug,” just enough to know that a fly is a fly, etc. Again, great idea, good luck, have fun, feel free to completely ignore my advice.

    • Thanks for the suggestion! However, there are two reasons why I don’t focus only on the face. The first is that I’m showing lots of different angles in my photos, so there’s a lot of variation in the positioning of the bugs. Some shots are zoomed in close and some show the whole bug. This shot happens to be head on, but most of them are not. Second, my gear makes it hard for me to get much closer without having to either boost the lighting significantly or sacrifice nearly all of the depth of field. I love my macro lens and other equipment, but I am not a pro and my gear is limited. I can get much closer with my iPhone than I can with the 105mm macro lens used for this image, but the photos invariably end up very grainy. I’ve settled on images such as this one because they seem to strike a balance between producing bright, high quality, sharp images and showing enough detail to be interesting.

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