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YDOD 07-04-2010 01:15 PM

Butterflies
 
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.


John Passaneau 07-04-2010 01:56 PM

Re: Butterflies
 
On 7/4/2010 9:15 AM, YDOD wrote:
> 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.



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

Ken Walls 07-04-2010 07:48 PM

Re: Butterflies
 
On Sun, 4 Jul 2010 07:15:04 -0600, "YDOD" <walker7729@hotmail.com> wrote:

>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.


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 07-04-2010 07:52 PM

Re: Butterflies
 
On Sun, 04 Jul 2010 09:56:43 -0400, John Passaneau <w3jxp@arrl.net> wrote:

>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.


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.




Ray Fischer 07-05-2010 07:36 AM

Re: Butterflies
 
YDOD <walker7729@hotmail.com> wrote:
>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.


Butterfly net and superglue?

--
Ray Fischer
rfischer@sonic.net


otter 07-07-2010 05:00 AM

Re: Butterflies
 
On Jul 4, 8:15*am, "YDOD" <walker7...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> 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.


Speaking of butterflies, here is one I took over the weekend.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/billkes...09662/sizes/l/

My first attempt at butterflies.

YDOD 07-07-2010 01:23 PM

Re: Butterflies
 
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
efforts.

"Ken Walls" <kwalls@spamblocked.com> wrote in message
news:8g5836pcqndn5h38h0loqabl1lfe8f28q0@4ax.com...
> On Tue, 6 Jul 2010 22:00:33 -0700 (PDT), otter <bighorn_bill@hotmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>>On Jul 4, 8:15 am, "YDOD" <walker7...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>>> 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.

>>
>>Speaking of butterflies, here is one I took over the weekend.
>>
>>http://www.flickr.com/photos/billkes...09662/sizes/l/
>>
>>My first attempt at butterflies.

>
> Would have been a nice shot and composition .... but
>
> Focus being off, and too slow of shutter speed adding to the blur from the
> moving wings, would have to sadly put this into the scrap-pile.
>



John McWilliams 07-07-2010 07:18 PM

Re: Butterflies
 
John Navas wrote:
> eOn Wed, 07 Jul 2010 12:27:46 -0500, in
> <Xns9DAE77C8D4C7A48umofa02sneakemailc@127.0.0.1> , SneakyP
> <48umofa02@WHITELISTONLYsneakemail.com> wrote:
>
>> otter <bighorn_bill@hotmail.com> wrote in
>> news:8d133433-228b-49f5-98fc-ad5c3cf80d44@d8g2000yqf.googlegroups.com:
>>
>>> Speaking of butterflies, here is one I took over the weekend.
>>> http://www.flickr.com/photos/billkes...09662/sizes/l/
>>> My first attempt at butterflies.

>> Those things are so tricky to get focused.

>
> Not so hard with spot focusing on the butterfly,
> which better cameras will allow you to do.
>
> The problem is multi-zone focusing,
> where the camera doesn't know what's the subject.


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

otter 07-08-2010 02:15 AM

Re: Butterflies
 
On Jul 7, 9:05*am, John Navas <spamfilt...@navasgroup.com> wrote:
> On Wed, 7 Jul 2010 07:23:58 -0600, in
> <Xd%Yn.6424$OU6.4...@newsfe20.iad>, "YDOD" <walker7...@hotmail.com>
> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
> >"Ken Walls" <kwa...@spamblocked.com> wrote in message
> >news:8g5836pcqndn5h38h0loqabl1lfe8f28q0@4ax.com.. .
> >> On Tue, 6 Jul 2010 22:00:33 -0700 (PDT), otter <bighorn_b...@hotmail.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>>Speaking of butterflies, here is one I took over the weekend.

>
> >>>http://www.flickr.com/photos/billkes...09662/sizes/l/

>
> >>>My first attempt at butterflies.
> >> Would have been a *nice shot and composition .... but

>
> >> Focus being off, and too slow of shutter speed adding to the blur from the
> >> moving wings, would have to sadly put this into the scrap-pile.

> >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
> >efforts.

>
> It's not terrible, but not a great composition in my opinion, and the
> butterfly is blurred -- perhaps instead, something more like this:
> <http://i48.tinypic.com/2rrb2h5.jpg>


Yeah, the focus is a little off, but I didn't have my superglue :-).

I thought about cropping it your way, but it seemed a little ordinary,
and I prefer rectangular crops rather than square so they print on the
entire sheet.. The petals of the flower on the right were damaged, so
I intentionally cut them off. Anyway, just an opportunity that
happened to present itself. Perhaps I'll be more prepared next time.
Not claiming this is something that I would submit to a magazine.

I've liked the pictures I've seen from you, John. Do you have some
butterfly pics, as well?


tony cooper 07-08-2010 04:00 AM

Re: Butterflies
 
On Wed, 7 Jul 2010 19:15:36 -0700 (PDT), otter
<bighorn_bill@hotmail.com> wrote:

>> It's not terrible, but not a great composition in my opinion, and the
>> butterfly is blurred -- perhaps instead, something more like this:
>> <http://i48.tinypic.com/2rrb2h5.jpg>

>
>Yeah, the focus is a little off, but I didn't have my superglue :-).
>
>I thought about cropping it your way, but it seemed a little ordinary,
>and I prefer rectangular crops rather than square so they print on the
>entire sheet.. The petals of the flower on the right were damaged, so
>I intentionally cut them off. Anyway, just an opportunity that
>happened to present itself. Perhaps I'll be more prepared next time.
>Not claiming this is something that I would submit to a magazine.
>


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
light.

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.

http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f2...2008-05-17.jpg

--
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida


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