Photography
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Photographing butterflies.

Butterflies are very sensitive little creatures. Get too close, and they’ll fly away and even when you do get close, they’re constantly on the move from flower-to-flower, shrub-to-shrub.

When you spot a butterfly that you would like to photograph, don’t rush over to it quickly. Move slowly towards it, and the nearer you get the slower your movements will need to be to avoid scaring it away. Try to approach the butterfly from an angle where your shadow will not fall on the butterfly.

Depending on the experience that one wants to have, from your own back yard to the country side, there are many different places where butterflies can be found to photograph.

For the beginner, if you want to practise or experiment with photographing butterflies before heading out to photograph them outdoors, a butterfly house can give you good opportunities and a variety of butterflies which you might not usually see in the wild.

You don't need a lot of special equipment to photograph butterflies. Almost any camera is capable of capturing excelling butterfly photographs. However, there are some features and equipment that will make capturing great butterfly photographs easier.

Zoom - Because of the small size of butterflies and not wishing to get in to close and disturb them, a compact camera with a 16 or 20x optical zoom is excellent in filling the frame with the butterfly.

To avoid camera shake, blurring of the picture, and to avoid subject blur from the butterfly moving a shutter speed of 1/250s or faster should work well.

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How to Photograph Butterflies. (See left)

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Photographing butterflies: continued.

  If you are using aperture priority, a setting of around f/8 gives enough depth of field to get the butterfly in focus. However, auto settings can still achieve a great result. The ISO/ASA setting should be set to as low as possible to avoid introducing digital noise, or grain.

Choose an angle you want to shoot from, and consider the lighting also the surrounding foliage, which all ads up to good composition. Using either manual or auto focus will work when shooting butterflies. Regardless of the method chosen, to ensure that the butterfly’s torso and wings will be in focus keep your camera parallel to butterfly’s body should help you get the result you want.

Although you may think you pressed the shutter just as the butterfly was in perfect focus, often the focus can be by a bit out. This is why it is important to take lots of shots. Use burst/continuous mode on your camera if you have it to take several photographs in quick succession. This will avoid getting blurry images and give you a better chance of taking the perfect image.

Tripods are good to use in butterfly photography if you are shooting a still subject, such as chrysalis, with macro lens, but can otherwise be cumbersome to carry around, especially while chasing butterflies.


Experiment. You may not get good results at first but with constant practice and experimentation with the above tips, you will soon produce beautiful butterfly photographs.
 

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