A Lasioglossum sweat bee.

Our house in Urbana hosted a standard urban lawn when we moved in a few years back. Grass. A few dandelions. It was mowable, but not exciting otherwise.

To spice things up, I’ve been replacing the lawn with native plants. In early summer, our yard is now a colorful meadow:


Black-eyed susans, prairie milkweed, New England aster, ironweed, blazing star, and other native plants grow in the garden under the watchful eyes of Mingus the Cat.

The garden has benefits beyond mere aesthestics. Our homegrown prairie patch provides a wealth of opportunities for pollinator photography. The Lasioglossum sweat bee is one of many images I’ve taken on the black-eyed susans. These easy yellow asters seeded across the meadow from a single pot I transplanted in 2010.

Photographing pollinators well requires doing more than just pointing a camera at a bee and snapping away. A key aspect of the top photograph is its low angle. By crouching down to bee height and shooting up, I captured a perspective that transforms a seemingly insignificant bee into a larger-than-life animal, one worthy of the respect our increasingly troubled native pollinators deserve.

If you’d like a print, the native bee photograph is one of 30 I’ve included in the Holiday Print Sale, running until January 1.

photo details:
Canon MP-E  on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 200, f/13, 1/200 sec
Lit with diffuse off-camera twin flash