Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) the next three weeks will be giant insect week at the 4:30 Movie. Just the realities of end of summer photography. So depending on your perspective I’m saying either sorry or your welcome!
This summer has been an unmitigated failure as a butterfly photographing season. Whenever I’ve gone out with my macro lens and monopod the butterflies have been non-existent. I think I’ve gotten a half dozen shots of a monarch or two. But other than that it’s been the tiny butterflies or nothing.
So today at about 4pm I went out without my camera just to get a snootful of air and wandering by a garden that was in the afternoon shade I see this tiger swallowtail in perfect condition. The wings are vividly colored and there are no tatters at all. And maybe because it’s in the shade it’s completely unconcerned with my presence. Usually butterflies constantly scan their surroundings and reposition to avoid threats or even leave suddenly if they feel threatened. This one is unphased by my presence and I’m standing there behind it looking at the perfect shot of the flat open wings, without a camera!
I head back to the house mumbling and swearing about my lousy luck and I grab my rig and head back out. And it’s still there. But sure enough, as soon as I get into range it takes off. More grumbling and swearing. Now we’re in the more typical situation with the butterfly playing ring around the rosy with me, always keeping a flower between me and it. Well, I had had enough. Instead of my usual magnified view trying to get the perfect focus I set the autofocus to continuous and the trigger mode to multiple-hi speed and I machine gunned my way through hundreds of files while I actively chased that stupid insect around the yard.
Was I successful? We’ll see. But it was satisfying to use modern technology to defeat the annoying strategies of a creature whose brain is about the size of a poppy seed.
“That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.”
“What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!”
As noted earlier I had a touch of cabin fever so I decided to try my first outdoor focus stack. What this means is that I have to drag along a laptop computer and a tethering line in addition to the camera and tripod. All of this is easy enough. What isn’t easy is telling the wind to stop blowing for the requisite two or three minutes of exposure time. And in fact, this picture is cropped as tightly as it is because some leaves were blowing around in the debris pile. Looking at it now I also note that the left side shoot is a little over exposed. So let us say as art it’s slightly underwhelming. But as an experiment in field macrophotography technique it will be “required reading at the Academy.”