Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bee-autiful Peony: June Photo Contest at Gardening Gone Wild

Peony "Dawn Pink"
This month's photography contest at Gardening Gone Wild had me completely stymied. Acclaimed photographer Joshua McCullough challenged us to incorporate motion into our photography with a tutorial sprinkled with still photographs in which motion or movement of some element is captured.

Usually when there is movement in a photograph I've taken, it means my hand was shaking or I had the camera set to the wrong shutter speed. I've deleted dozens of such photographs. Who knew?

I love taking pictures but when it comes to any skill as a photographer, I'm still a rank amateur who has only a minimal understanding of the capabilities of my Rebel XT (which I've only had for 6 years). The GGW contests are a great mini-tutorial and a chance for me to practice what the guest experts preach.

I also understand that a big part of photography is capitalizing on the opportunities that Mother Nature presents you with.

When I first thought about this contest, I was hoping to catch our fledgling birds in flight in our garden. I had visions of their fluttering wings, a blur as they flew past, their adorable torsos crisply in focus in front of the Japanese maple. That pipe dream never materialized. You don't want to know how much time I spent sitting patiently near the pond, watching them through the view finder of my camera but unable to capture a single decent shot. My reflexes are too slow, and hundreds of images ended up banished to the Recycle Bin.

Almost every day, as Steve and I weed and tend to the beds, I photograph the garden, document what's blooming and anything else that catches my fancy. While we were deadheading roses and columbine the other morning, I saw the most wonderful bee pollinating the peonies that had just opened.

I watched him for several minutes and captured him flitting and flying from blossom to blossom, rolling around in the pollen, and generally having a high old time all by himself. I shot nearly 200 digital frames and managed to catch several fabulous shots of him.

Choosing the best photographs to share in this post was actually quite difficult - there were so many! But choosing one image for the contest was easy: there was only one that truly captured the bee in a way that I thought was really in keeping with the theme.

Check out the rest of these bee-autiful peony blooms. The last photograph is the one I am submitting to the contest.


This is the image I chose as my contest entry. You can see the blur of the bee's wings and I like the way his profile (and all that pollen) is captured in his shadow.


  1. Great photos! I can empathize with you. Sometimes, I feel stymied trying to use my camera and am all thumbs. And as a consolation, remember that I have a great mental photo.

  2. Great photos! The last entry is great, with the shadow behind. I agree motion is not always easy to capture, and laughed at your shaking hand example. I think your header photo is also a good example of motion with the waves. Good luck on the contest.

  3. I love the pictures of the peonies. They are just beautiful. Good luck in your entry picture.

  4. I love the one of the bee hovering over the cupped flower. Beeutiful!!

  5. Good luck, great shots and so difficult to pick out a favourite. Think I will go and empty my recycle bin.

  6. Beautiful pic's! The wings in the last one is just amazing, great capture =)

  7. I love it and have never successfully captured a bee flying in a pic...good luck

  8. I think your photos are great! Photography is not at all my strong suit - I really admire those who can get a good shot. I especially love the last shot where you can see the bee's shadow on the peony petal - beautiful!

  9. I agree - I think the photo you selected is the one. I like the shadow and the way you can see his wings whirring.


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