Have you ever wanted to start photographing butterflies? In this article I’m going to show you how to photograph butterlfies successfully and quickly, whilst maintaining sharp focus and excellent depth of field.With these powerful tips for photographing butterflies you’ll be able to discover how you too can get beautiful butterfly photos.
Butterflies are very sweet and delicate little things. They flit around gently all day, providing us with some terrific photo opportunites. But it’s difficult to know when they are going to sit still and settle, making it hard for us to photograph them. What are they doing when they are flitting about? Gathering nectar actually, just as we would go food shopping for groceries.
Butterfly photography is a fun and and gentle sport. And the first thing you are going to need is a good, flexible tripod to follow them from each position they land in. Keep the tripod nice and free. A tight, ridgid tripod will make it very hard to move around and follow your butterfly. By maintaining some flexibility in your tripod position, not only to you make it easier to shoot, but you will feel less restricted in your own movements when you are following your butterfly.
Depending on where you live, photographing butterflies will depend on the weather. In extreme cold climates, you won’t see a butterfly until spring or autumn. In subtropical climates or warmer weather, you will see plenty. They do not like extremes of temperature, so pick your timing correctly. You can look up your favourites species of butterfly and see what times of the year they are more likely to come out. Check the seasons and weather first, before you go out hunting. It would seem a non-event if you went out searching for your favourite butterfly only to realise it’s another six months before you will see them.
Photograing butteflies doesn’t have to be a stressful exercise. Watch and wait until your butterfly is completerly still and go! Postition yourself so that you are have a perfect front on or side angle, fill your viewer and shoot. Take as “big” photo as you can. Lining your camera up right beside your butterfly will give you some excellent shots. Make sure that you have your camera on auto focus, as you won’t have time to play around with manual focus very much. When you are shooting small, flighty creatues such as these, you can sometimes lose the shot forever in favour of trying to get the “right” focus. Just concentrate on getting the shot, sharp and composed well and let the camera do the focusing.
Lighting is always important in butterfly photography. Your butterfly being lit from the side will be nice if you are aiming for a sillouhette type of photo. If you want a sharp, colourful shot of your butterfly, then it will be better for you to have the sun behind you and on the front of the butterfly. Wait until your butterfly is sitting still on a flower, with the sun lighting the whole creature and press that shutter button.
Butterfly photography is depedant on the lighting so not only is it imperative to watch your position of the sun, but keep the iso low or at medium. if you are shooting a white butterfly on a white flower, you may want to set your camera at 100 ISO or 200 ISO. You may think that 400 ISO is good, but when you veiw the images back, they may be a little bright. The right ISO heavily depends on what intensity of light you are working with. On an overcast, cloudy day, your white butterfly on the white flower may look great at 800 ISO. Just experiement with the light first, then settle on the right ISO from there.
Experiement with burst mode. Butterflies move fast and good butterfly photography relies on sharpness and speed. You can simply shoot in burst mode if you are worried you might miss any of the delicate movements given by your butterfly. After all, it is better to prepare for speed!
Ofcourse if burst modea is not familair to you and a fast shutter speed is, then all the better. A fast shutter speed will provide the ability to take those “frozen in time” photos that we all seek when photographing butterflies. Butterfly photography relies on the shutter speed being at 500th of a second or higher so that we can capture the butterfly without motion blur or distortion.
To summarise, check your lighting and camera settings before photographing butterflies. You can shoot with ease in burst mode and auto focus a lot more than you can with manual focus or single shooting. You’ll soon discover that butterfly photography is a great deal of fun!