Bee Sleeping on Blanket flower

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


I ran across one of these yesterday but wasn’t all that satisfied with the results. I went out this morning to photograph the flowers in their various stages and found another? bee sleeping on one and couldn’t resist. Today I had the tripod and cable release so I was able to do some stacks.

Specific Feedback

The out of focus wires of a fence in the background gave me fits. Did I subdue them adequately? Anything else?

Technical Details

Sony A7Riv, FE 70-200 f/4 macro + 1.4 TC @ 280 mm, tripod and cable release, 25 images stacked in Helicon Focus, all at f/32, 1/10, iso 1600. Further processing in LR & PS CC. Cropped to 6909x4684. Taken at 7:39 this morning.

oooh I love when this happens. I found a roosting bumblebee on some flowers this morning, too, but alas, no dew. She left before it rained which was good. This time of year they are in a frenzy to lay in stores for the queen even though I think she will be in a hibernation state all winter while her children die.

I love the angle and position you have here in terms of camera placement. The bg is super smooth and the bland quality really makes her and her floral bed stand out. That said I think taking down the yellows in the petals just a bit might be a good idea - they are really bright.

Question for you - why f/32? With stacks I can usually open up a bit which keeps my ISO from getting too high. The shutter speed looks workable if there wasn’t any wind so an even faster one might have been a good way to go as well. Just curious. Is it part of getting to know a new lens maybe?


The f/32 was a mistake. I’d just taken some single shots of flowers from a different angle and forgot to change my settings. Something of which I am far too often guilty.

Ah, gotcha. Sometimes it’s hard to keep all the plates spinning while trying to not scare away our subjects!

Or stepping on my flowers. I had to invade my garden bed to get these and it’s pretty overgrown at this stage.

What a wonderful find, with great composition! I love the detail and the story here – wasn’t she supposed to go home at dark? I’m just learning that Bumblebees seem to nap a lot. Maybe they get tired, with their power to weight ratio? Whatever, a great image well presented!

Wow, beautiful Dennis! Love all the dew and great colors. Really interesting behavior. Well done.

Such a great shot, Dennis. I too love the eye level view of her and the placement of the flower. That smooth BG and the dew on the flower and the bee, really icing on the cake. Really nice. It doesn’t look to me that f32 did any harm. I too forget to change settings once in awhile. I guess we all do. I have started using the C1, C2, and C3 for settings I want for a starting point in certain different types of photography. That helps a lot.

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No wind and an immobile bee - what more can one ask for? A beautiful flower, perhaps, and dew. Your (mis)use of f32 shows how our modern cameras can adjust in many ways to end up with a super shot. But of course the user deserves the credit here. Well done! Does that camera do automatic focus stacking, Dennis?

Hi Mike. So far as I’ve heard it doesn’t have automatic focus stacking, unless it’s been added recently. Lots of firmware updates it could use, but it’s basically a fine camera and I’ve never really had a problem with manual stacking.

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There is some semantic confusion, at least with Canon. The higher end models have focus bracketing, which will shoot a set of focus points at max shutter speed – the user sets the number of frames and a fine to coarse spacing and the camera calculates the change in the focus motor steps according to the aperture. You get a set of raw files to process in a stacking program like Zerene or Helicon Focus.

Focus stacking, at least in some cameras, shoots the set then does its own processing and returns a JPEG. But at least some can also give the source files. I don’t see how it could be a very good alternative, as the dedicated stacking programs can easily have artifacts to be cleaned up, due to slight movement or strong overlaps.

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The generic term for taking the photos without processing seems to be “focus bracketing”. I wouldn’t want the camera doing the processing either, but looking at what Jim Zablotny gets with his Nikon, the feature of taking the images looks appealing. Sony finally putit on the A7Rv but hasn’t seen fit to do firmware updates for other cameras (even their flagship A1).

Yes, I should have said “focus bracketing”. The Olympus/OM Systems OM1 does it too, or you can do the focus stacking in camera, which as you say, Diane, has its drawbacks (and the OM1 “only” allows 15 shots of in-camera stacking). I’m very tempted by this camera, as I find my Nikon lenses are really hard to focus in small incremental steps. I’m sure some day soon all good cameras will have this feature of focus bracketing.

I suspect the new Nikons all have it. That’s what Jim uses.

He also said of his dahlia photo that it was a PMax stack which is Zerene speak. My 6-year old G9 will do both in-camera bracketing and stacking, but I don’t use the latter function for the reasons Diane mentioned which is that it misses more than it hits. Am anxiously awaiting Panasonic’s announcement on Tuesday - major rumors swirling about a G9 update/successor so we’ll see if there is anything different for stacking/bracketing.

Dennis, wonderful image! The flower is beautiful with the mist lightly touching it. I agree with Kristen that the yellow could be toned down. It’s very bright and almost a distraction. The bee looks very happy to be modeling for you. So sharp and clear!