Social Wasps Building a nest

Social wasps are fascinating creatures.

How do I know?

Because I’ve photographed them several times.

Ironically I learnt the hard way how fiercely they guard their nests many years ago in Italy when I got too close.

Since then I’ve kept my distance.

The point is that through photography you can learn.

And through learning your photography will improve.

Wildlife photography is much easier and the results much better if you have a good knowledge of animal behaviour, life cycle and so on.

I used to think that wasps were solitary creatures – and some are – but all over Europe I’ve seen social wasps building their nests.

The process is simple, the wasps collect wood bark and paper products and then masticate all the material into a pulp which they use to build the nest.

When it dries it hardens.

Every year social wasps build a new nest.

Social Wasps Building Nest Photo Facts:

I had made a special trip into the countryside to look for seasonal photos.

Towards midday the sun was harsh and fierce and I decided to look for some refreshment.

To get out of the sun for a moment I stepped into a deserted bus shelter.

As my eyes became acclimatised to the change of light I also heard the buzzing of these social wasps.

I looked up and saw them building their nest high in the corner of the shelter.

I had come equipped for landscape photography but luckily has packed my Canon 100mm 2.8 macro lens.

I pushed the ISO on my Canon EOS 5D mark 11 up to 400 and tried some handheld shots.

The light levels were low and Depth of Field was limited.

The quality of light was good as inside the shelter the light was diffused and non-directional.

I was very careful to keep my distance and did not expect a very high success rate.

Most of my photos were poor, mainly because of camera shake but one or two were successful.

This shot was the best both as a photograph and for showing the behaviour of social wasps building their nest.

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2 Responses to Social Wasps Building a Nest

  • Doug Siemens says:

    Saw your information on sharp photos on PictureCorrect Photography today and had to see how well you put your information into practice. I was very impressed with the wasp photo for many reasons. The most prevalent being about 35 years ago one very similar to those pictured, made a bee line (or should I say “waspline”?) of about 100 feet to me and stung me just above my left eye. It was the only one that left a nest the size of a basketball to attack, so I just figured it had a bad attitude! And I really love the photo. Thanks for the tips!

  • johnphoto says:

    Hi Doug

    Glad that you read my feature on PictureCorrect Photography – it’s one of a series as there’s too much to cover in one article.

    Hope you found that my practice is up to my principles.

    I was pleased with this shot especially as I had no idea that I would see the wasps here. It was also a good test for the quality of digital at a (relatively) high iso.

    Of course the Canon 100mm Macro is a bitingly sharp lens but one of my main points is that it’s a knowledge of equipment and good technique that produces sharp photos, not just great equipment.

    So glad that you enjoyed the photo and thanks for visiting my site

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