Continuing the tradition of alliteration from my previous macro post, today is all about butterflies. I haven’t seen them around until last weekend so I guess it’s their season now.
It was in the middle of the day so these guys were very active, making it a tad tricky to get close at times. Butterflies are also naturally skittish so they don’t really like having a big lens shoved up their face. Luckily they were pretty busy with the flowers most of the time and – unlike a certain other critter I know *grumbles* – they actually took some time to enjoy the flowers instead of madly racing for a new one immediately. I’m having trouble deciding which shot is my favourite from this session but it might be the one to the left here. Focus isn’t completely perfect if you really start analyzing it but the eye is still sharp and I like the composition.
Like I said, this was the middle of the day and you can also see that there is plenty of ambient light. Normally I’m fine with that since it means the backgrounds look nicer but here it proved to also pose a problem, or at least I think so. Even though there was plenty of ambient I was still using flash to help freeze all movement but in some of the shots you can definitely detect motion blur (look at the antennas and tongue, or whatever it’s called). That’s because my camera’s fastest sync speed is 1/200 and that’s plenty of time for these small movements to register. I could try to shoot without flash to get a higher shutter speed but that would mean pushing the iso up – which is something I really want to avoid – or opening up the aperture, leaving me with less dof. The other alternative would be to kill the ambient with lower iso and smaller aperture. The flash duration would be longer but still a lot faster than 1/200. The only problem with that is that I would lose the nice light. I might fiddle around a bit with that next time but overall I think my current settings are a good compromise. At least until I get rich and can get Nikon’s macro flash kit…yeah, that will happen.
Back to the bugs. They were enjoying their feast in a patch of high grass so in many of the shots I ended up with blades of grass between the lens and my subject. You can see this in the shot to the left as well but here it isn’t too distracting since it just blurs the wing in the lower left a bit. I actually think there’s also a flower somewhere between the lens and the flower that’s supposed to be in frame, hence the purple glow.
I saw a couple of larger butterflies as well but I didn’t have any luck with getting close to them so I just kept to these smaller ones since they seemed more willing to pose. I have no idea what kind of butterflies they are but I’ve decided to name them X-wings, on account of me being a geek and also because it’s almost certain to be a considerably cooler name than they actually have. If anyone cares to identify them, leave me a comment (X-wings will still be cooler though).
Not only did the grass get in the way, butterflies also seem to have a knack for putting their antennas where they shouldn’t be. Next time I’ll have to more aware of my composition and try to avoid distractions like this; there’s always room for improvement. And I really do hope there will be more opportunities to shoot these guys since I’m rather pleased with the results. I would especially love to get some more shots of them feeding. Not only does the flowers add some colour to the scene but I also think there is more interest when they’re feeding compared to just sitting there. That’s not saying they’re not interesting even if they’re just loafing around though, I particularly like how fluffy they are when you’re up close and personal like this – as always, be sure to click for a larger view on my flickr.
Wish me luck for this weekend when I go on the hunt again. Hopefully I’ll bring back more delicious butterflies for your viewing pleasure.