Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Chicano Photography: The Bees And The Xerophyte Flowers:Gemini Writers Conference

Honey Bees, Bumblebees, and Flowers
Michael Sedano

Anticipation builds when the first buds appear on my Epiphyllum pencas. I watch the buds swell and become incipient beauties. Some discolor, fade, fall. Others swell, elongate, form distinct body parts. The bud twists and turns toward the light. In the morning the night-opening blossoms point toward the eastern light.

 Some delicate night-bloomers fade with the sunrise. Their stigma and anthers intended for bats, moths, and night-flying creatures, when day arrives the flower is done. 

Many flowers last two days, and especially on day one, some of these attract honeybees and wood bees. Hence, the photographer sets a goal of a bee in flight with the loveliness of the flower. Two natural perfections in one perfect photograph, that's the goal.

If I'm lucky, I'm in the garden with my lens and if I'm luckier still, I've set up the tripod and remote. And if I'm luckier still, the perfect photograph emerges, or darn close. Some of these fotos are darn good. I'm publishing them as a series, marketing them to gente who stage houses or design office interiors. These images print up and look gorgeous in 48" or 50" sizes!

To get the bee in flight, conditions must be right. One, the flowers have to be open and in a location the camera sees them. I photograph where the flowers bloom, don't move stuff around, it is what it is. Two, the photographer has to exercise technique or depend on sheer luck. Some fuzzy fotos have appeal. Mostly, they don't work. Technique is the better option.

Cylindrical Night-blooming Cereus and Carpenter Bee

"Bumblebee" is what most folks call these wondrous slow-moving Carpenter Bees. The black ones are the females, the golden are male. The selective bee doesn't visit most flowers, and they're not as commonly seen as the honeybees. Bumblebee flight supposedly is aerodynamically impossible, but that's puro theory and no one informed the bee. 

Salmon Pink Epiphyllum and Honeybees

My most common Epiphyllum is this large Salmon Pink sharp-petalled plant. The pencas grow three or five feet long, the serpentines get covered with blossoms, 6, 8, 12 at a time. I've rarely witnessed bees drawn to the flowers. A flight of three curious workers showed up while I was outside with the camera for the "grab shot".

White Epiphyllum Stigma and Honeybee

This White Ephiphyllum blooms prolifically with the faintest-to-my-nose perfume. The honeybee explores the Stigma. It needs to get into the trumpet bowl and cover itself with pollen from the male Anthers huddled under the female organ.

Golden Carpenter Bee and Crassula Flowers

An insignificant flower to human eyes is attractive to the golden Carpenter Bee.

Carpenter Bee and Yellow Fragrant Echinopsis

The bee poking her head out from the nest of pollen and nectar signals the photographer that return visits are in the offing. Here's where technique, and equipment, come into play.

I have a radio frequency remote that lets me stand or sit elsewhere with one eye on the tripod-mounted camera. When the critters appear, I stop what I'm engaged in and wait for the bee to come into the frame.

Focus on the heart of the blossom, set the speed as fast as the light allows, 1/1250 in the early morning light. The camera will offer an aperture likely to produce a shallow field of focus at that speed and an ISO800 or slower. 

Hand-held, a good foto is a triumph of eye-hand technique. Tripod mounted is a bit easier since the frame isn't moving and the fotog waits for the subject to float or flit into the region of focus.

These Yellow Fragrant Echinopsis fotos are hand-held. 

Both eyes open. The eye in the rangefinder keeps the flower in the frame. The other eye tracks the approaching insect. When both eyes see the bee, the finger pushes the button. When it all comes together there's a memory of the shiny body just before the rangefinder goes dark and the shutter opens.

Using the camera's multi-fire setting I get three to five frames with the bee in good to precise focus.

With a telephoto lens--these use a 100mm--a few feet distance is forgiving of eager trigger fingers and uncooperative bee flight paths. There's a deeper focus depth further from the flower. 

Up close, patience and experience teach you when to push the button. Photographing bees and cactus blossoms, the patience is wait til next year because these plants bloom only once a year, for those two days or few hours.

Carpenter & Honey Bee & Violet Echinopsis

5, 4, 3... Week Countdown In SanAnto

Gemini Ink reports they are less than five weeks away from 4th Annual Writers Conference this summer in San Antonio, Texas from July 19-21 at the historic El Tropicano Riverwalk Hotel. 

Events include off-site conversations focusing on the ever-evolving role of place in the writer's life, and challenging the ideas we've inherited.

The Writers Conference brings together diverse, nationally recognized authors and a host of talented regional writers for workshops, panels, and free public readings. This year's conference keynote speaker will be poet and vocalist Andrea “Vocab” Sanderson, winner of the People's Choice Award 2019 granted by the Artist Foundation of San Antonio. Our five featured writers are: creative nonfiction writer Ira Sukrungruang, New York Times’ bestselling memoir and fiction writer Andre Dubus III, PEN Southwest Book award-winning poet Pablo Miguel Martínez, author, cultural critic, and editor Camille Acker, and the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize, poet Analicia Sotelo.


sandra said...

Your work is impressive, as is your patience. What got you started w/these particular plants?

msedano said...

sandra, thank you. the epiphyllum is a familia tradition. https://labloga.blogspot.com/2017/05/truth-beauty-all-you-need-to-know.html