Butterfly photo experiment

The other day I went for a short walk behind our chalet, taking my my wife’s SLR camera, complete with telephoto lens. I wondered whether it might give better results than my point and shoot and the results can be seen below.

Note that with the SLR telephoto lens I couldn’t get it to autofocus from within 1 metre / 3 feet, so all the pictures had to be taken from afar. This was a great advantage as I didn’t disturb the butterflies as much and I managed to capture maybe 80% of the ones which landed nearby. With my point and shoot, it’s a case of stalking the butterfly, taking photos as I get closer and closer, until it either flies away or I get to within 5 to 8 cm or 2 to 3 inches. With this method I maybe capture 30 to 40%. However, if I do manage to get that close, then the images from the point and shoot, as you might expect, are much better. Though that could be down to my handling of the SLR of course.

So, is it better to capture more butterflies with ‘OK’ results or are we seeking to achieve that ‘perfect’ shot? If you have any views, I’d be pleased to receive your comments.

Most of the butterflies in this gallery you will have seen before but, given the cloudy weather conditions that we’d had during the day, I was amazed to photograph 12 different sorts in the hour or so that I was out. (One photo of a female ‘blue’, which I couldn’t identify anyway, was too blurred to include).

10 thoughts on “Butterfly photo experiment

  1. Bet you can guess where I stand on this one Mike!
    Yes I want that perfect shot however it is hardly obtainable 99.9% of the time and that’s being generous! Beware of a lot of images you may come across that show a perfect butterfly on a perfect flower with a neutral background. These are very often set up by capture and chilling and lots of photoshop editing. I prefer my images to be natural so I take dozens of shots in the hope I get THE one, just occasionally I get lucky. I go for ‘record’ shots to start with so I have the memory then I try and get the more ‘arty’ style of image. The more images the better the chance of a good one. I will then post-process by a bit of cropping, adding contrast, shadow protection that sort of thing. The better the original shot the less pp needed.
    The main thing I guess is practice. It doesn’t matter one bit how big and expensive the camera/lens if the settings are wrong and no effort put into composing the image the result will be, at best, so-so. Quite often I can spend hours photographing maybe just one species and the result is probably one or two images on my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for your reply Brian. I’m with you on the preference for that ‘perfect’ shot, but I think I’m pretty happy if the image is mostly in focus and you can see the detail of the hairs on the back of the body (there must be a technical name for that) and the wing tips. Though sometimes you can’t have one with the other. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer as such, but a keen walker who likes to capture as well as possible what he sees. 😊

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  2. Did you see twelve different kinds of butterflies within an hour!!! I would be more than satisfied if I saw at least two during my long walks with Fanny. Today I actually sew two and we walked for an hour and a half, and I can tell you, it was very hot this afternoon. ☀ ☀
    Few of your images that you show here are what I would call OK while others are if not prefect, they are great. And honestly, I myself always try to achieve that ‘perfect’ shot but of course I fail more often than I succeed. Then comes the question if the “OK” ones are worth to publish and share with others. Obviously they are!!! Thank you for sharing your OK and great images and thoughts. 😀

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    • Thank you Anita. We all strive for perfection obviously, even if it’s unachievable! And, yes, there were 12 different ones, and I was pleased that they were all different colours – from vibrant blue to green to orange and brown. I’m glad the sun is shining and the weather is warm for you. 😄

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  3. ..prefect should be perfect!! Sorry for misspelling and probably there are more misspelling to find here 😉 I really try to express myself correctly in English as I do in Swedish but yet I’ve not achieve this to be ‘perfect’ 😉

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  4. Wonderful and colorful gallery Mike! I am very much like Brian on my birding photography, so I won’t repeat! I am usually holding my long lens when out/about, so when I spy butterflies/insects, I just step back, and take shots from different angles for hopefully a great shot. 🙂

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