Scary Detail

A hornet walks upside down on a leaf

There comes a point with macro photography where you can genuinely scare yourself silly with the proximity you get to insects and the detail you end up revealing.  For me, this is very much the case with anything large and ‘buzzy’.

It used to be wasps that scared me half to death, but after spending so much time trying to take images of wasps and hoverflies this summer I am much more tolerant of them now. The same goes for ‘normal’ bees – they’re really just gentle ‘giants’ of the insect world. However… huge hornets scare the bejeebies out of me. It’s not just the size of them that ‘gets’ me, but also the noise they make and the seemingly over-engineered and perfect make up of their many body parts that are paraded on display. It took real courage for me to get close to the monster in the shot above.

I started by trying to macro from afar – too wimpish to move closer. Of course this was a unsuccessful strategy, so I watched him for a while to assess and understand his actions and movements and realised that he rarely moved, and if I could get close enough without disturbing him I might hold out long enough to get a shot. Of course, this required me to hand hold the camera – I dared not faff with the tripod for fear of aggravating him. (Given that I was holding my breath the entire time, camera shake was minimal…aside from my shaking hands that is!) I tried a few shots and moved in closer, crouching beneath the plant he was on. Then he got restless and started to move – that was the limit of my courage and I took this as a signal to quite literally run away. I did so, waving hands and arms frantically should he try and fly after me. I arrived breathless at a slumbering husband, professing my bravery and showing him the images I’d taken and accompanying goosebumps on my arms.

I am very proud of the fact that I got close enough to see the detail of what appears to be a hardened drop of pollen in his side…


Additional macro photography of insects, including bees, hornets and hover flies are available in our online macro gallery.

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