Today was a nice sunny Saturday and the first thing I saw when I went outside was a bumblebee. There were lots of bumblebees around, clustering around the flowering chokecherry trees. When I looked up bumblebees later, I learned that my bumblebees are actually carpenter bees. Carpenter bees nest in wood but are not aggressive and don’t live in really large groups, and they seemed to be mostly over near the fence rather than around the house, so I’m not too concerned about them. They’re still a kind of bumblebee to me.

I still have my camera set on aperture priority with the 55-250mm lens. I was really surprised and pleased today with the versatility of this lens.  I was able to take closeups of the bees as well as shots of the cardinal up in a chokecherry tree. I mostly used manual focus today and I really am getting better at this. Sometimes I’d switch back and forth from manual to automatic focus to see the difference, and often I liked my manual focus photos better. For shots like a bee or a bird in the middle of branches, leaves, and flowers, manual focus made it easier to select the element I wanted to focus on. I had my camera set for partial metering yesterday and I forgot to look at my metering settings today, so that’s the way it was all day. For the most part it worked out all right.

So here’s my first bee photo, a bee hovering in mid-air. The only thing I didn’t like was that its wings weren’t frozen in motion, but that was due to my shutter speed. Settings were f/7.1, 1/250, ISO 640.

A face-to-face look at a hovering bee. The white on its face indicates that it’s a male. Wings are still a blur of motion but I like it. Settings were f/5.6, 1/400, ISO 200.

This is a female bee (no white on the face) that was sitting on the fence. Settings were f/8, 1/250, ISO 800.

And a bee in the chokecherry flowers. Settings were f/6.3, 1/400, ISO 200.

Another bee in the chokecherry flowers. Settings were f/6.3, 1/320, ISO 200.

Here’s the male cardinal, back up in the chokecherry tree singing. Settings were f/6.3, 1/250, ISO 640.

My monopod is here and so is my book, “Understanding Exposure.” I’m still reading the book and it is helping me understand better what I’m doing. Maybe tomorrow I’ll give the monopod a try.