Male White-headed Digger Bees roosting on a grass culm

Critique Style Requested: Standard

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


White-headed Digger Bees (Amegilla albiceps) are a little known species of Australian native bee. The males roost together like this each night, while the females sleep in their underground solitary nesting burrows. Photographed at 7:46am in Chiltern Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Specific Feedback

All comments are welcome.

Technical Details

Canon EOS R5, EF100mm f/2.8 non-IS, 1/125, f/13, ISO 6400, EXP 0 , no flash and handheld.

Hi Simon and welcome to NPN! Glad to have you aboard. We had several active Aussie and Kiwi members here, but a few seem to have gone quiet for the moment so it’s nice to see more of the world down there.

What a striking photo. I love how they hang on not only with their legs, but with their jaws, too. And in so many positions that really show off all their fuzzy glory. I guess a gang of bachelors has to stick together and so this shows behavior really well, too. My initial thought is to darken the background if you can. You don’t say what editing software you use, but I think all of them will mask the bees pretty well and inverting that will let you target back there. With all your avian experience, this is something you can probably do in your sleep! Other than that, I think the image is really interesting and well executed.

If you do make changes and have a second edit, you can add that to your original post by clicking the pencil (edit) icon. This allows us to compare both photos in the viewer one after the other. You can also edit the title with something like + 1 Rework or similar to alert the group that you have done it.

You can also reply to multiple people in one post by highlighting any text in their reply and using the Quote function. Another way is to use the @ symbol and choose the person in the list that comes up. Use the tab key to automatically select and fill the name in your reply. Hope that made sense!

Oh and feel free to ping me or any of the other moderators if you have questions or need a hand navigating the site. Looking forward to your participation and images.

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Simon, welcome to NPN! What a great first image! I had no idea that these guys exist and certainly was unaware of them sleeping like this. Very interesting. An excellent capture too. I think @_Kris gave some good advice about the background. We want these little guys to get all of the attention. Such nice details in all of them. Let us know if you need help maneuvering around the site, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of your images. Again, welcome to NPN.

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Welcome, Simon!! If you are just taking up macro work, I’m not sure how much you can hope to improve because this is just awesome!! Incredibly gorgeous! You have captured wonderful detail and perfect light – and handheld! The arrangement of the bees is fascinating!

For images such as this, I’m always torn about leaving or removing elements like the grass stalks at the bottom. I wonder if you have another frame with a bit more canvas there, so they aren’t so close to the bottom, but that’s a very small point as the bees are so wonderful that they aren’t a distraction.

I wonder about softening some of the brighter areas in the BG, if that fits with your ethics.

I hope to see much more of your work – what a great introduction you have made!

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Hi Simon!

Welcome to NPN! :slight_smile:

This is an awesome image!

I didn’t know that Digger Bees would latch onto something and sleep in this manner, I wonder which is better, sleeping underground or sleeping outside like this :thinking:
Guess that depends on the weather.

As mentioned, it’s an awesome composition, the colors and details are great! I think the slight angle of the grass culm adds to the appeal for me.
I had never used the term “Culm” before now so thanks for that.

From time to time, we may download a member’s image to demonstrate possible adjustment ideas, it can be a more effective way compared to describing it through text.

This image, in my opinion, only needs minor tweaking or minor fine tuning.
And please keep in mind that it’s just ideas for edits, many times it’s purely subjective so apply the suggestions as you see fit, it’s your image and your experience! :slight_smile:

In the edit example below, I reduced the exposure globally using an exposure mask in Ps, then I brushed out the area where the bees are located, then added another exposure mask on top of that but this time I increased the exposure and added a slightly darker offset (the offset slider in the exposure window in Ps).
Finally, the bees seemed to be very slightly soft focused so I ran it through Topaz Sharpen AI for just a touch of sharpening, not much, I think the slider was at 8 or 9 in the normal mode.

The idea behind the edit example is to draw a little less attention to the BG (background) and add emphasis to those wonderful Digger Bees. :slight_smile:

Anyway, don’t worry if these edit ideas don’t align with what you want.

All the best and again, welcome aboard! :slight_smile:

Edit suggestion Below:

Your Original Below:

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Thank you all for your most useful comments. I confess to not being an entirely new member of NPN. I was active in the Avian forum as a greenhorn bird photographer starting out in 2008 and for a long time after.

Since acquiring the EOS R5 I only use Canon Digital Photo Professional ver 4 (DPP) to convert raw images, producing either a JPG output file for showing on the web, or a TIFF for processing in Photoshop. In this case I did not use Photoshop. The image posted is an uncropped and downsized JPG produced by DPP.

With the original post at the top of this thread, I made the following adjustments to the default DPP values:

Basic adjustment tab
Brightness adjustment: +1
Automatic lighting optimiser: Off
Picture style: Neutral
Shadow: +2
Highlight: -5
Sharpness: Off

Adjust image detail tab
Sharpness: Off

I will investigate each of your suggestions with a view to improving my processing workflow.

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I have amended the original image making the following adjustments to the default DPP values:
Basic image settings (last tab)
Change: AdobeRGB to sRGB

Basic adjustment tab
Brightness adjustment: +1
Automatic lighting optimiser: On
Clarity: 0
Picture style: Neutral
Shadow: +2
Highlight: -5
Color saturation: 4
Sharpness: Off

Adjust image detail tab
Sharpness: Off

I then transferred the image to Photoshop and ran Manyk’s Web Sharpening Action, resizing it to 1600 pixels wide (1600, 1600).

There is a copy of Manyk’s Web Sharpening Action here:

I discovered Manyk’s action back in 2008 and have managed to keep it working with recent versions of Photoshop. The trick with it is to adjust the opacity of the sharpening layer it creates so that the sharpening applied looks just right for the downsized image. Usually the default value of 60% is just fine.

Hi Simon,

This looks really good! It’s clean and evenly lit, not too much contrast or saturation. It conveys a nice “Open Air” feeling for these Diggers to be roosting in.
The BG highlights are nicely subdued in this version, too. :slight_smile:

I’m not familiar with the software you’re using but it looks like it does a good job.
I remember viewing the basic features of DPP but I never got into the specifics since I decided to go with Adobe Lr and Ps.

Well done, thanks for posting the rework and I hope you can share more with us soon :slight_smile:

All the best,

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Hi. I’m a bit late to the party but welcome to NPN!

As soon as I looked upon this image i was - WOW - what an amazing light you have captured! The bees remind me of birds on a phone line and you have captured the sleeping behavior in great sharpness and detail.

If absolutly love the pastel tones in the background and if anything I would even it out a bit (some of the pink spots are perhaps a bit powerful) and try making it a smidgen lighter instead of darker to capture that sort of morning sunlight feel (I assume the morning sun is hitting a field or meadow in the background).

Regardless of what you do, I’m a bit envious of the whole capture :smile:

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