Photographing hovering carpenter bees turned into an obsession over the weekend. A friend who read the previous post suggested using a flash to create more static images of their rapidly beating wings and also switching to manual focus.
While implementing his suggestions, I took about 80 pictures of flying bees throughout yesterday. The pictures below are two of the best. Using a flash was indeed a more effective way to freeze the motion of the bees' wings.
Also, focusing manually wasn't as difficult as I had initially assumed it would be. Once I got used to the bees' routines, I could follow them thru the viewfinder, while changing the focus quickly.
For the technically oriented: Pictures were taken with an Olympus E-500 camera with a Zuiko 35 mm macro lens. The camera was hand held at all times. To take the previous set of photos at high shutter speeds, I had to set the sensitivity at ISO 500 or higher on a sunny morning. This, however, increased the noise. Furthermore, despite the high sensitivity, the pictures were still mostly underexposed. Another advantage of using a flash was that I could lower the sensitivity to ISO 250 and thereby decreasing the noise. The resulting photos were also better exposed.