This happened just a few weeks ago. Some new flowers in the garden attracted a zillion bees. I decided to do a different take on bees -- an impressionist look, with soft, muted colors, and showing the bees in their relationship to the flowers. These are small wild bees who probably have a hive in one of the trees along our property line (Like in Winnie the Pooh).
A few happy accidents and some perseverance yielded these pictures. There's more technical info at the end of this article.
The pictures were shot with my Panasonic DMC-FZ150. One of the features that I used was the burst mode. The FZ150 can shoot about 12 shots a second at the highest quality JPEG setting. I chose the 5.5 frames per second, which also gives full follow-focus capability. But even at this slower frame rate, you'd be amazed at how fast the shot count goes up. Needless to say, there were lots of images to choose from.
For most of these shots, the FZ150's lens was at its maximum telephoto (600mm equiv) setting. The focus lever on the side of the lens was set to the AF-Macro position. The long lens setting gave shallow depth of field, blurring the background nicely, and the focusing proved quick and accurate, allowing me to follow these tiny subjects easily.
Most of the time, I leave the ISO at the "Intelligent ISO" setting. Unlike the regular "Auto-ISO" setting, the "iISO" setting also checks to see if anything is in the picture is moving and then bumps up the ISO and uses a higher shutter speed to stop the blur.
Alas, this was not enough, and my first attempts came out blurred. So I bit the bullet and set the ISO to 800, hoping for the best. I needn't have worried. The FZ150 was now working with a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec and the image quality was just fine.
One other side effect of the high ISO was that the pictures came out slightly overexposed when the light was bright. I liked this look, with the flowers having soft pastel colors, so I used it for all of the pictures. Since the pictures were shot at different times of the day, the quality, color, and direction of the light adds an interesting diversity to the images.
The pictures were post-processed in LightZone 3, and artificial bokeh was added to some of the pictures using the Bokeh-Matic plug-in from Wilkington Smythe.