The Atavism

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Spinelessness - Embracing point and shoot photography

Last week I told you all that I had a great idea for a Sunday Spinelessness post, but not enough time write it. So, of course, this week I've managed my time in such a way... that there's still no way I'm going to get to write that idea up.

I'll leave that idea for another day, and, instead take inspiration from one of Alex Wild's recent posts at Myrmecos. The bug-blogo-sphere is filled with wonderful photographers, producing absolutely stunning portraits of the little creatures that run our world. When I go out fossicking for bugs, it's images like Alex's ants and Ted's beetles that I have in mind. That mindset inevitiably leads to dissapointment, since I'm restricted to a point an shoot camera. As much as I love my camera, it's never going to challenge dSLRs for image quality and its lens can't produce the sort of magnification a really good macro lens can. But, Alex points out, I shouldn't be disappointed that my camera can't do something it's not designed for, instead, I should take advantage of some of the things digicams really are good at. In partcular, the small lenses used in these cameras create a wide depth of focus, which can capture not just a bug, but a little of the the way the world looks form a bug's point of view. With this new idea in mind I went out today and... well, completely failed to get anything interesting. It was a grey sort of a morning here in Dunedin there wasn't much life out at about. Instead, here are a few older images that gel with Alex's tips:

First, a soldier beetle looking for food in masterwort flowers in the UBC Botanical Gardens in Vancouver. I tried, and failed, to get a close up of these beetle's face; but did get this one:

Flowers seem to be the over-arching theme in thse photos. A bumblebee visiting a dahlia (I probably should have thought a bit harder about the background here...):

I've taken a few decent photos of bumblebees, but I've never taken a good one of a honeybee. Or at least, I've never taken a good photo of a sinlge honey bee, I quite like this one with hundreds of bees flying in and out of their hives.

And finally, back to the dahlia for my favourite of these photos. A tiny fly, far too small for my camera to capture in any great detail, but looking pretty good in this setting:

edit: I forgot to include a link to The Geek in Question, who followed up Alex's article with some more great tips

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Posted by David Winter 5:08 PM


I really like the honey bees at the hive!
Wow, I love all of these, but especially the first one - the detail in the different textures of the flower and the beetle really make it seem like you could just read out and touch 'em Wonkavision style.

Thanks! That's another one from the UBC gardens. Vancouver seems to take their pollinators very seriously, as week as these hives there were nest boxes built for mason bees all over the parks and in town.
My wife has the fancy camera and most of the images I post are hers, but I agree the point-and-shoot can compete for some bug shots, as you demonstrate with your honeybee and soldier beetle pictures.

I think that the main advantages are that point-and-shoots are light and portable. Also, it is faster switching modes than switching lenses. Taking a telephoto from a distance before creeping up for a macro can be the difference between something adequate and nothing. I guess these points add up to increased opportunity with a p-a-s.

The only thing I really hate about my p-a-s is the shutter lag.

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