And Still More Butterflies

Monarch Framed

Monarch III

1/2000s @ f/5.6, ISO 3200, FL=400mm

(Click on image to enlarge)

Photographer’s note:  This image was not intentionally captured blurry and out of focus, but I liked the look so much that I decided to use it as is.  That’s the serendipity of photography: accidents or miscalculations often happen; sometimes for the better.  Also, I was trying to catch some of the critters in flight so I set my shutter speed to 1/2000s which boosted my ISO to 2500-3200 causing a little more noise (graininess) than I usually prefer.  However once again, in an artistic sense, I think it works pretty well.  You have to be willing to take a risk once in a while, you can’t always stay with the ‘safe bet’ and expect to get something new and different.  Thus endeth Photography Philosophy 101 – SFD

The jury is still out on whether these are actually Monarch butterflies.  The input I’m getting from individuals more knowledgeable than myself is split about 50/50.  There are so many look-a-likes out there that mimic the Monarch, because birds hate their bitter-sour taste, that birds often confuse any bright orange butterfly for a Monarch.  So why should I be any different?  A big reason I lean towards identifying these particular butterflies as Monarch’s is due to the season (it’s their migratory season to Mexico) and the sheer volume of critters in my backyard.  I’ve never seen any other species of butterfly (except the Monarch) cluster together in such profusion.  Swallowtail’s don’t do it, Morning Cloak’s don’t do it, Buckeye’s don’t do it—I always see these other species in singles or pairs. With these Monarchs (or look-a-likes) the yard is just crammed full of them.  I took all of these images this afternoon with my Canon EOS 5D Mk2 DSLR camera and EF 400mm f/5.6L USM super telephoto lens.  A poor lens for butterflies BTW.  The problem with this large lens is its MFD (Minimum Focusing Distance) of 3.5 meters (or approximately 10 feet). Although 400mm enlarges the subject quite a bit, it still leaves a butterfly pretty darn small in the frame (requiring substantial cropping in post-edit—which reduces the final image resolution).  A much better choice would have been my Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L USM Macro lens with a MFD of about 1-inch (of course I would have to stealth-creep much closer to the critters).  The 400mm is perfect for wildlife, but not so good for bugs.

Monarch I Framed

Monarch I

1/2000s @ f/5.6, ISO 3200, FL=400mm

(Click on image to enlarge)

Monarch II Framed

Monarch II

1/2000s @ f/6.3, ISO 3200, FL=400mm

(Click on image to enlarge)

Monarch IV Framed

Monarch IV

1/2000s @ f/6.3, ISO 2500, FL=400mm

(Click on image to enlarge)

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6 responses to “And Still More Butterflies

  1. Beautiful! I like Monarch 11 the best. Butterflies are fun and also exasperating to photograph…they never pose exactly the way you ask them to! …but it’s also good exercise running around after them! lol!

    • Thanks Karen. My best butterfly images are typically captured with my 100mm macro lens, but the easiest lens to shoot with is my 70-200mm zoom … I don’t have to get quite so close. They are beautiful and magical little creatures … I’ve loved them since I was a kid.

  2. Hi Steve:

    If you want a definitive ID for these butterflies you can submit photos to http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/

    So far I have submitted 89 photos of butterflies, moths and caterpillars for IDs! Also, you are helping to build their database for all of North America.

    You can send low resolution images with copyright text on them to ensure the security of your pictures.

    In any event, the photos are great! 🙂

    Doris

  3. I LOVE these photos…absolutely stunning!!! As for the first image that you say is blurry, I have to quote my friend’s grandfather, “Sometimes we blunder into brilliance!”

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