The Apiarist

Last Saturday I started a (hopefully) year long chapter of the British Heritage Project. "The Apiarist's Year".  Perhaps technically the most difficult project I have shot; certainly since the pigeon race liberation anyway. 

Difficulties came from a number of practical challenges:

  • Camera - whatever I used would need to be able to be composed and focused  through the veil, potentially away from the eye, and after contacting a DocPhoter in Alabama who is also a beekeeper the thickness and lack of dexterity in your hands due to the thick gloves warn also became apparent. I'll go through the considerations one by one. 
  1. Mamiya RZ67: waist level finder and big focus screen would give the best control of composition whilst using the veil. The large controls possibly usable with the gloves, however needing to reload every 10 frames would not be a good practical option here. 
  2. Olympus Pen FT: small and compact, and fiddly small shutter speed control would be difficult with the gloves, however not needing to reload until 76+ frames would make good practical sense. The viewfinder is small and dark though. 
  3. Nikon F100/F80: the setup used for the silversmith, and brewer. 36 frames to a roll - not as good here as the Olympus but far better than the Mamiya, Aperture Priority and AF would be useful due to the gloves. 

The Nikon ended up being the choice. 

  • Animal endagerment: something I was not expecting to happen was how the bees gathered on the camera itself, the gloves remove a lot of sensory feeling in the fingers, and when I glanced down at the camera to check shutter speed only to find 10-20 bees crawling over the body housing I missed some photographs potentially all due to the rush of squashing a bee on the shutter release by accident. 
  • H&S: I've never been stung before and don't know if I'm allergic (a bee did manage to get inside the hood with me) 

Each hive is home to between 50-55 thousand honey bees, the training apiary where we were houses 17 hives - that's a lot of bees! The sound was incredible and I hope is prominent on the video recording. I shot a single roll of film in the F100 needing to rely heavily on Aperture Priority and AF, however looking at the results due to not being able to support the camera fully against my face there is some camera shake in places, next time open the aperture up, faster time. 

The project will continue with the filling shooting script:

  • one camera one roll of colour neg, 200iso (Kodak Gold200)
  • one shoot per month
  • not all eye level
  • watch shutter speed (aperture no smaller than f5.6 on a sunny day)
  • be more varied
  • have a goal/topic for each shoot as a focus. 
  • more still lifes