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,
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
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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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
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
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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