Canon 300D, handheld
Metz 40MZ-3i flash
Mamiya 80mm w/ extension
ISO 100
1/125 second at f22

Eye to eye


bumblebee face

There is an inherent trait in humans – we look to the eyes of any subject, regardless of how many there might be. So one important thing to remember as a photographer is to keep the eyes sharp. But another thing, which I frequently have to tell people, is to get down to eye-level with your subject, or sometimes even below. Kids, pets, and yes, even insects benefit from angles that seem to directly relate the viewer to the subject. Instead of looking down on a bee's back as we might typically see this, here we get a sense of the what the bee is doing and the intensity of its attention, perhaps helped by the antennae that we sometimes interpret almost as eyebrows.

When I was experimenting with different ways to do macro photography, I took an 80mm macro lens from my Mamiya 645 manual focus medium format kit, and adapted it to Canon use by gluing a lens base cap for the Mamiya to a body cap for the Canon, then boring out the centers of both to turn them into an adapter ring. Aperture control is naturally missing in such cases, but the Mamiya M645 line of lenses sports a switch for manual control of the aperture. Thus, I could focus with the aperture wide open, then flip a switch on the lens immediately before tripping the shutter to close the aperture down to f22 easily. Sounds awkward, but it works, and the Mamiya lens is wonderfully sharp even with significant lens extension. The Metz flash had to be manually adjusted for light output until I got the exposure down where I wanted it, but once that initial experiment was done I could retain the settings.