Photographing Butterflies

Pat Garner allowed me to share this article she wrote – I added a few notes at the end of the article.

I have been asked many times over the last few years: “How do you get so close to the butterflies?” I am by no means a professional, but these are a few of the things that have worked for me:

– Wait for the butterfly to begin nectaring if it is on a flower. The butterfly’s focus seems to be totally on the sweet nectar, and not on you.

– Move VERY SLOWLY towards your subject, whether it is a butterfly or an insect.

– Get as close as you feel is safe without frightening your target and snap a photo so as not to completely miss the target should it decide to fly.

– Hold the camera so the butterfly can’t see your face. I’ve noticed that if I do this, the butterfly isn’t as likely to fly.

-Continue to move forward slowly, extending your arms toward the butterfly and snapping every step or two, which gives you a better and better capture. (When you edit your photos, you can delete all but the last shot.) I think that by moving the camera straight toward the butterfly, the target doesn’t detect the movement as easily as when you move around from side to side. In this way, I’ve been able (I’m sure others have, too) to get within 3” of many of my subjects. And when you get that capture, it makes you feel soooo good!
Happy snapping … I hope this will be a great butterfly year for everyone.

————————————–

Notes from Tom

If you get within a couple of inches, use your cameras “macro” setting to get those great closeups.

Also if you camera has some manual settings, if you set the F stop to F22 or anything as close to that as possible allows you to get more depth of field. Also don’t try to zoom in, set the camera for the widest shot possible. I may take as many as 50 pictures to get one I like.

I have been asked many times over the last few years: “How do you get so close to the butterflies?” I am by no means a professional, but these are a few of the things that have worked for me:

Wait for the butterfly to begin nectaring if it is on a flower. The butterfly’s focus seems to be totally on the sweet nectar, and not on you.

Move VERY SLOWLY towards your subject, whether it is a butterfly or an insect.

Get as close as you feel is safe without frightening your target and snap a photo so as not to completely miss the target should it decide to fly.

Hold the camera so the butterfly can’t see your face. I’ve noticed that if I do this, the butterfly isn’t as likely to fly.

Continue to move forward slowly, extending your arms toward the butterfly and snapping every step or two, which gives you a better and better capture. (When you edit your photos, you can delete all but the last shot.) I think that by moving the camera straight toward the butterfly, the target doesn’t detect the movement as easily as when you move around from side to side. In this way, I’ve been able (I’m sure others have, too) to get within 3” of many of my subjects. And when you get that capture, it makes you feel soooo good!
Happy snapping … I hope this will be a great butterfly year for everyone.
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