The Extream Macro Photography Of Bees
We are very proud and excited to exhibit the excellent work of Sam Droege, head of the bee inventory and monitoring program at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). We interviewed Sam about the inventory and photography of all the bee species in North America in 2001. Hello Sam, Thank you for the interview, Please Tell us a little bit about yourself? What is your background?
I am a federal biologist who works for the U.S. Geological Survey. Ever since anyone can remember I have been interested in animals, plants, the out-of-doors, and nature. Many will say that I prefer the company of nature to the company of people.
Do you see yourself as a professional photographer?
Yes, but highly specialized only in studio macro photography, I haven’t seriously taken up other forms of photography.
What type of photography do you enjoy most?
I enjoy working with all sorts of natural objects, but have little interest in the man made items.
How did you start with macro photography?
We needed to take high quality pictures of bees for our identification guides…so that people who have to identify the bees that they have in museums or scientific collections have a “virtual” museum of high quality pictures to reference and compare their specimens to. Initially we were using a Nikon Coolpix 990 attached to a microscope objective.. But the quality was not high enough and we abandoned that. The current technique evolved from the work of Tony Gutierrez in the U.S. Army’s Institute of Public Health. That group took high resolution photographs of insects in the field and with their help we modified it for work indoors.
These photographs are in some ways insect wedding photographs, they are meant to not only highlight the scientifically useful details of each species but to showcase their beauty as much as possible. I emphasize the colors, pattern, symmetries, and lines of these bees both because that is what I personally want to see and work on and because by making beautiful as well as functional photographs we can bring in an entirely new audience of non-scientists who can now see what we see and love.
Do you see the macro photography as more challenging field ?
At the higher end it can get very technical, but like all photography it retains all the issues of presentation and selection of subject that are equal in importance to technique.