Macro Images of Goldenrod and Its Visitors


Many insect populations are most numerous in the late summer and early fall of the year and often take advantage of the goldenrod that is plentiful then as well. It’s also a fine time for some macro photography.


The Visitors

These photos feature a variety of bees, wasps, and yellowjackets, some of whom are described concisely in this document from the University of Minnesota. They were maintaining a lively interaction with the goldenrod and a host of other visitors, including at least one locust borer beetle that can be seen above.

Getting Macro

These characters blend in so well with the flowers of the plant that they present a challenging subject to photograph when they can’t be easily separated from the background. In those cases it’s best to make them as obvious as possible in the final image by filling the frame with them. Ideally this could be done by simply getting close enough to the subject with the camera, but that can be difficult to do without scaring it away. The other alternative is to take the picture from a safe distance and then crop the final image, but this can only work optimally as long as the camera has sufficient resolution to allow it.

The camera used for this project was a Nikon D800 with a very high resolution 36 megapixel sensor, and the lens was an AF Micro-NIKKOR 200mm f/4D IF-ED, a macro lens with a close focus working distance of 0.5 m. It was hand held with the camera ISO set at 2000 and and with various shutter speeds and apertures.

Locust Borer

The evolution of this image is typical of most of those in the gallery above. The original image was taken at a close but safe distance and uses the full 36 MP of the camera, but the subject blends in with the background so well that it is difficult to see in spite of being properly exposed and focused. The images below show the content of the full resolution image and the final image that was cropped down to 8 MP. That means that of over 75% of the original image was thrown away! If the camera had much lower resolution the cropped image would begin to look soft, pixelated, or jaggy after so much of it was discarded. In this case the cropped image still had higher resolution than was needed for it to look good on this website, where most of the posted images are less than 1 MP in size.

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