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“The best way out is always through.”

Monday, April 19, 2010

If You Grow it, Bugs Will Come: Four Lessons

Last summer I had a client that wanted me to take some photographs that included bugs in them. That's a nice request and a fun challenge--but they needed the photos the next day. I thought their request was a bit nuts and never expected to be able to actually find and photograph a bug on command, but I actually completed the assignment--and was even able to give them a choice of bugs--including this green-looking bee (I have no idea what it is). The trick was just sitting in my garden, camera on tripod, and waiting. Low and behold, within about 10 minutes of sitting there staring at some black-eyed Susans, a small moth showed up. Then some bees. Then this green thing.

Even though I've spent most of my life gardening, I guess I never realized just how many bugs hang around gardens--because in the past I either ignored them or was annoyed by them. But suddenly, with an assignment on the line, bugs became my friends. I was able to spend almost an hour photographing this little guy because (lesson number one) he kept coming back to the same flowers over and over. And also, once I set up the camera next to a particular blossom (lesson number two), he (or she) pretty much ignored me.

Later I got even more hip (I'm slow on the uptake sometimes) because once the light fell off of the flowers I was shooting, I picked some flowers, put them in a vase and put the vase on a picnic table in the sun--and, amazingly enough, the bugs followed me. While not as many came to the flowers in the vase, apparently they like the sunlight (lesson number three) because they were ignoring the flowers in the shade in my garden and hanging out with me in the sunlight.

The last lesson for the day was that you should always take on a challenge even if you think you might fail. What's the worst I could have told this client? Sorry, no bugs today? That's not my fault! But as it was they were pleased, I made some cash and the bugs are now famous.

The bugs are waiting for you--so if you're looking for something fun to shoot, go sit out in the garden. By the way, I used a 105mm Micro Nikkor lens and a 20mm extension tube for this shot and I used a small aperture to get some depth of field.


Frank said...

Hi Jeff,

I have to admit that I am usually chasing bugs away when I am outside, but this was pretty interesting. Of course, if you really want to attract bees, my all time favorite method is to spill a little Coca-Cola on the table (or maybe put a tiny bit on a flower). The sugar attracts them like nothing else. It also works pretty well with ants.


Jeff Wignall said...

A photographer friend also told me to spray perfume on something! The Coke is a good idea--after all, they climb in the can the minute you put it down.