Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by YDOD, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. YDOD

    YDOD Guest

    Does anyone have any tips for photographing butterflies that they would
    share? At present, I wait until I see one, I wait for it to settle and then
    I try to sneak up on it, being careful not to let my shadow fall on it.
    There are many problems with this method but the main ones are that
    sometimes they do not settle, or they settle somewhere inaccessible or they
    take flight again while I am sneaking up. I seem to have better luck on hot
    sunny days when there is no wind but I would welcome advice on time of day,
    weather, vegetation, anything.
    YDOD, Jul 4, 2010
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  2. A longer focal length macro lens helps. A 100 or 180mm lens means you
    don't need to get as close. Also finding out what species of plant each
    kind of butterfly likes to sip from also helps as they stay at them
    longer. Getting up early in the day when it's still cool and the
    butterflies are moving slower also helps. A dark secret is that many of
    the best butterfly photos were made in the studio. They catch the
    butterfly and take an appropriate piece of plant material into the
    studio and set it up. They slow down the butterfly by putting it into a
    cooler for a while so that it moves very slow giving them lots of time
    to make the shot.

    John Passaneau
    John Passaneau, Jul 4, 2010
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  3. YDOD

    Ken Walls Guest

    For optics use a tele-macro configuration. Close-up filters on long zoom
    lenses. This gives you enough working room between lens and subject for the
    more skittish species. Practice your handheld skills, you'll need them at
    the long focal-lengths in use.

    Wear camo-patterned clothing and hat. You may not have a gun but you are
    hunting nonetheless. You have to get nearer to your photography subjects
    and use greater stealth tactics than any hunter would ever have to.
    (Wildlife photography is much more difficult than hunting.)

    Avoid bug-sprays or strong scents. Unscented DEET products can be used
    sparingly if needed. You can buy 99% DEET from the camping and sporting
    goods departments. A drop or two spread in the hands and lightly brushed on
    clothing, backs of hands, and face should suffice. Thoroughly clean it off
    the palms of your hands or you will end up melting and destroying most
    plastics and painted surfaces that you touch.

    Try to approach an insect from a direction where something just as dark
    colored as you are (relative to the sky), and of similar angular dimensions
    as you are, can be kept to your back. So you blend in with the forms and
    outlines that the insect is seeing and detecting. Blend in with the
    silhouettes behind you.

    In the late late afternoon, just before sunset, they will often find spots
    where sunlight is hitting a surface and will bask in that, always returning
    to the same spot many times. Watch for their basking spots and then remain
    there waiting. Be patient. You can be within a foot of their basking spot
    and as long as you remain motionless they'll return to it. An added benefit
    is the warm late sun enhances their warmer colors.

    If a settled butterfly refuses to open up its wings while you have it
    framed and focused you can momentarily, but slowly, cast a partial shadow
    on it to get it to open its wings and ready itself for flight. Sometimes
    just the approaching shadow is enough. Use this method with caution or they
    may just fly off altogether.

    If you become more dedicated to insect photography then also get some
    inexpensive knee and elbow protectors from a sporting-goods department (for
    bikers and skateboarders). These become invaluable when hunting insect
    species close to the ground. You can stalk a skittish insect as slowly and
    cautiously as you want in any kind of terrain. You won't reflexively flinch
    from putting a knee or elbow into a rock or twig, scaring the subject away.
    For low-flying butterflies like skippers and little blues and azures this
    might come in handy. This was the only way that I could obtain images of
    some rare carnivorous beetles one time. They only hunted in open sunny
    areas of gravel and would fly off at the slightest nearby motion. Due to
    their small size (5/8") I couldn't use tele-macro optics, I had to use a
    full macro lens only 3 inches from them. The knee and elbow pads finally
    did the trick for stalking them. I've since had to buy far fewer shirts and
    pants too. Knees and elbows aren't being torn up so much nor stained with
    mud and muck.
    Ken Walls, Jul 4, 2010
  4. YDOD

    Ken Walls Guest

    An undark secret is that I can spot those contrived photos using artificial
    lighting every time. I don't consider them "the best", I consider them the
    very worst images I've ever seen. There are better ways to photograph them
    in their natural environment with natural lighting now. Learn them.
    Ken Walls, Jul 4, 2010
  5. YDOD

    Ray Fischer Guest

    Butterfly net and superglue?
    Ray Fischer, Jul 5, 2010
  6. YDOD

    YDOD Guest

    I respectfully disagree with Ken. I think that perfection is something to
    aim for and not a minimum requirement. This is a very good photograph which
    I would expect that the photographer would find most encouraging of his
    YDOD, Jul 7, 2010
  7. For such relatively fixed type of shooting, I will often go to full
    manual- both focus and shutter/aperture.

    As to photo itself, it's quite pleasing to my eye. It works without the
    butterfly at all. I'd try to shoot the 'fly with backlighting, or at
    least brighten it up in some way.
    John McWilliams, Jul 7, 2010
  8. YDOD

    tony cooper Guest

    Butterflies are not difficult to photograph, but you have to take a
    lot of shots to get one good one. The most common problems are that
    when you get back with the image you find one wing is damaged or there
    is some problem with the background. Since you have to catch them on
    the flit, you don't have a chance to pick the background or really
    check out the subject. You shoot by anticipating where the beast will

    I like this one because there's an added element: the caterpillar to
    the left. I could do without the dark spot immediately below the
    caterpillar, but the photo is not worth a lot of cloning.

    As far as cropping, you might consider two crops: one in a standard
    ratio for a print and one for web use where the ratio doesn't make a
    difference. This shot was cropped for the web to include the diagonal
    at the bottom left and an off-balance layout. A standard ratio might
    not work as well.

    tony cooper, Jul 8, 2010
  9. YDOD

    LOL! Guest

    Yeah, an incompentent troll WOULD claim that.

    LOL!, Jul 8, 2010
  10. YDOD

    tony cooper Guest

    Especially if he's linking to his *own* work.
    tony cooper, Jul 8, 2010
  11. YDOD

    LOL! Guest

    Well crap. Does this mean that I'm going to have to upload this photo of a
    butterfly IN FLIGHT (no cropping)


    And this easier to grab image (WARNING: for the sensitive brainwashed
    christian types, don't look at this one, it might offend your inbred sexual
    insecurities), again, no cropping.


    Both shot with P&S cameras (both sent to my unmarketable folders) just to
    prove what useless PIECIE OF SHITS that you DSLR-TROLLS truly are.


    You have no idea how much I laugh at your DSLR-Troll's pathetic photography
    examples and useless advice.

    LOL!, Jul 8, 2010
  12. YDOD

    LOL! Guest

    Oversaturated underexposed badly-composed CRAP.

    Thanks for proving again what a DSLR will provide for others.

    LOL!, Jul 8, 2010
  13. YDOD

    LOL! Guest

    No, the high jpg compression of 55% applied on top of another 62.5% is a
    little distracting. As it is meant to be, for all useless trolls and
    thieves. Thanks for playing!

    LOL!, Jul 8, 2010
  14. YDOD

    LOL! Guest

    As we wait with bated breath for just one example of your own photography,
    let alone one that's manually focused, lo these many years.

    LOL!, Jul 8, 2010
  15. Yep, though I prefer the original un or less cropped version. (It'd work
    for me even with no butterfly that way).
    John McWilliams, Jul 8, 2010
  16. YDOD

    Peter Guest

    I see two different centers of inters fighting for my attention. The
    butterfly is competing with what looks to me is a caterpillar.
    Peter, Jul 8, 2010
  17. YDOD

    tony cooper Guest

    Ah, c'mon, Peter. How hard can a butterfly fight? It's not like it's
    Cassius Clay floating there and waiting to sting like a bee.

    "What looks like a caterpillar"? I said it was a caterpillar, it has
    the same shape and color as a caterpillar, and it is where a
    caterpillar usually hangs out. How many clues do you need?

    Two elements "Fighting for attention", though, is an interesting
    observation. Either that creates tension in a photograph or it adds
    to the interest. Viewer's choice.

    I vote for "adds interest" since just about every other butterfly
    picture has a butterfly and a plant or flower. This one's a bit
    different. However, I'm biased here.

    A square crop to just the right side would eliminate the tension, but
    would it improve it? I dunno.
    tony cooper, Jul 9, 2010
  18. YDOD

    Peter Guest

    What bothers me is that I don't see how the two centers relate to each
    Compare with your checkers shot, which I commented on in another thread. In
    that shot there is a definite tension, or relationship between the two
    players. Here, I simply see it as two different images, that happen to be in
    the same frame. Possibly it's the minimal color separation between the
    butterfly and the background.
    Peter, Jul 9, 2010
  19. YDOD

    tony cooper Guest

    You have me in an awkward position. I don't like to defend my own
    photographs. You either like them or you don't. You can never
    convince someone to like a photograph by arguing about it.

    I can't help commenting on the relationship, though. It's before and
    after. The butterfly today is yesterday's caterpillar.

    That said, I'm not much into butterfly photos to begin with. They're
    too trite...too much all alike. There's a skill involved in getting
    close, setting up the shot, being patient enough to wait for a
    full-wing view, and getting the right focus for detail. But when
    you're done, you have a photo that is just like every other butterfly

    Here's my standard butterfly photo:
    Seems kinda insipid to me, but there's no conflict.

    Dragonflies can be more interesting:



    and even other kinds of caterpillars.


    These are all done with standard Nikon "kit" lenses. I don't own a
    macro lens.

    These are from last year. I lost interest in creepy-crawly things and
    started shooting people. Much more interesting.
    tony cooper, Jul 9, 2010
  20. YDOD

    Ken Walls Guest

    Because it is.

    Maybe you need to see butterflies from an insect's point of view.


    You also seem to have a knack for photographing the most common, most easy
    to identify, and most easy to find species (even including it on one of the
    most common of wildflowers), not unlike your attraction for photographing
    humans. Common on common on common. Photograph the insipid and mundane in
    an insipid and mundane way and it becomes the insipid and mundane. Because
    it's so much easier. Zero challenge. Zero creativity. Shots worthy of any
    beginner snap and crapshooter.
    I don't think I've ever seen uglier bokeh from a lens except for
    mirror-lenses. Just one more reason I've evaded getting sucked into a Nikon
    ditch all my life.
    No, just far easier and more common, not more interesting.

    One species and its banal behaviors in various manner of dress; vs. 15-30
    million insect species, each species having unique behaviors, and each
    individual in variations of dress. (This is why ID-ing certain species
    within whole families is a challenge in itself.) I guess some people find
    interest in the most insipid, non-unique, and most common of things on the
    Ken Walls, Jul 9, 2010
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