Bee Sheltered in Rose of Sharon by Todd Henson

A bee sheltered in a Rose of Sharon flower.

This was such a fun photograph to create. There was a light drizzle, but not enough that I had to cover my camera. The light was very soft, but it was also somewhat dark from the camera’s perspective. I was out photographing flowers with my new Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens, trying different compositions and different aperture settings, just trying to get a feel for the lens.

When I made my way to the Rose of Sharon I found a bumble bee sheltered inside one of the flowers. It wasn’t at all upset by my presence, even as I pushed the front of the lens right into the flower, almost filling the entrance. This blocked most of the light that might have entered the flower and lit the bee, but as you can see the light did still reach the interior by shining through the petals.

I created a number of images of this bee, sometimes experimenting with composition, but sometimes just trying to get a shot with the bee in focus. The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is a fully manual lens and I don’t often focus manually, so I was essentially relearning how to do this. Thankfully, I did a reasonably good job capturing the bee in focus for this photograph, though parts of it are still out of focus. It might have been a good idea if I’d stopped down the aperture just a bit to capture a little more depth of field. You can see from the sides of the petals how shallow the depth of field is.

Because it was so dark I had boosted my ISO to 1250. The shutter speed for this image was 1/40 second and I was hand holding the camera. This lens doesn’t have VR so I did the best I could to hold it steady. It’s not a heavy or large lens so this wasn’t too difficult.

I don’t know the exact aperture I used as the Lensbaby Velvet 56 does not have electrical contacts so it can’t communicate the aperture to the camera. It was not wide open as that would have created a very soft focus effect. There’s a good chance this was closer to f/8, possibly even smaller. I was physically very close to the bee, likely approaching the minimum focusing distance of 5 inches, which contributed to the shallow depth of field. I really wanted to fill the frame with the bee and the enclosing petals of the Rose of Sharon.

Sheltered in a Rose of Sharon is available for purchase as wall art or on a variety of products.

See my first impression of the Lensbaby Velvet 56 for more examples of photographs created with this lens.

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Finding Blue in a Field of Sunflowers by Todd Henson

A bee on a young sunflower against a cloudless blue sky.

One morning my brother and I found ourselves driving to McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland. We were hoping to photograph the fields of sunflowers that are planted there each year to feed the wildlife.

A young green sunflower bud.

But when we arrived we found the first field had yet to bloom. It was a field full of green sunflowers. A kind individual walking the field told us there was only one field even partly in bloom, and he showed us where this field was on the map. We, along with another group of photographers, got back in our cars and drove towards this field.

Facing the field of sunflowers, partly in bloom.

The morning was hot and extra humid. Just walking from the car to the field we were already soaked in sweat. Some of the sunflowers in the field had begun to bloom, but it was still mostly full of unopened green buds.

Side view of the partly blooming sunflower field.

So what do you do when you find your main subject is not how you had planned? You adjust your plans!

We hiked around the field looking for anything that caught our eyes. We did photograph a sunflower here and there, but what ended up catching our interest were other flowers growing amongst the sunflowers.

A beautiful blue morning glory flower against a green background, found in a field of sunflowers.

Along one side of the field we found morning glory vines with soft blue flowers. I tried using a very shallow depth of field to create a soft focus image, more about the green and blue colors than any detail in the flower.

Dew covered flower and bud at the back of the sunflower field.

At the back of the field we spent time photographing another flowering vine, possibly also a morning glory. I loved how dew had collected on the flower as it was still in shade; the sun had yet to rise high enough over the edge of the trees to reach this part of the field.

Green bee on a blue chicory flower with a green background.

And on the way back to the car we found a small patch of light blue chicory flowers attracting bees and other insects. Thankfully these were in shade which created a beautiful soft light just perfect for detail shots of the flowers and insects.

So if you ever head out for a shoot and don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, remember to stay flexible and keep your eyes open. There will usually be something else nearby worthy of your attention.