Thread: Please advise
View Single Post
Old 15th May 2018
art frames's Avatar
art frames art frames is offline
Full member
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Northants
Posts: 3,329
Thanks: 279
Thanked 312 Times in 277 Posts
Likes: 964
Liked 875 Times in 400 Posts
Re: Please advise

Originally Posted by Gate Keeper View Post
I took this yesterday with focus peaking on in bright sunlight and high temperatures. Edited in Lightroom 4 to lower the exposure. One side of the butterfly can be seen and the other side is in shadow. I am thinking I lost out the details because of the shadow on the butterfly and perhaps if I changed the position, less shadow would have been seen? Thank you for looking and making suggestions.

f/7.1 1.1000 ISO 200 275mm

butterfly and flower, Nairobi by philip Gate Keeper, on Flickr
Hi Phil

A striking butterfly (I believe a Dark Blue Pansy - Junonia oenone) with all of the characteristics of a surprise spot and quick shot. Which I would have shot too.

My technique may help, a little. But in the heat of the day with a butterfly nectaring on one solitary flower you don't have long.

Firstly, take the grab shot and breathe. You have that now everything is a bonus. All of the subsequent shots are about fixing what you see as issues or things you'd prefer to get nicer.

I regularly shoot with an old friend who misses out the grab shot and often ends up getting nothing. He is 20 years older than me and is too steeped in film thinking. So take lots and keep one or two.

Usually stage two will be getting your eye-line right (this is fine here) try to get on a level with them and not shoot down unless it is for composition and try to get as much of the wings in one plane as you can (but don't kneel too soon!). Then move about trying to avoid stray grasses, leaves and also to get a nice soft background (once again all good here). With every move you make fire off more grab shots - you never know when your butterfly will have depleted the nectar or noticed your smell, shadow or movements.

Once you have the right composition try to inch closer, firstly with feet and then with just you arm. Mirrorless helps here because you can use live view on the screen and not keep your eye to the viewfinder. Not sure of the closest focus point for that lens but I aim to avoid cropping so try to fill the frame. Focus peaking may help with the final in position shots. Use SAF with MF and some focus support (enlargement or peaking or both) for the last touch of sharpness where it counts (usually the eyes and antennae)

If you work at this you can be taking this in and resetting in seconds. Time is of the essence. In this situation I would want to have about 10 grab shots and a couple of really good ones that I'd expect to be able to get a keeper from.

The harsh light is an issue both for the picture and also because the butterfly will be hot and quick to move. But I shoot at noon too. It is possible but not as good as reflected light. You could use some HSS flash (easier on other systems) to give infill flash to light up the shadow areas while keeping the high speeds you will be getting in sunlight. I did get it working on my em5 mk2 once but it was a faf. You could carry a reflector (never tried it but can see the problems ) In the UK you have less real bright light problems and clouds are a blessing. But I am off to Croatia soon and will have the very same issues of heat, light and shadows. I coped OK in Hungary last year (

So your Dark Blue Pansy is a beauty and also one of the top ten commonest butterflies in your region - so should be a regular. You may know this site/person but if not it may help.

Keep shooting and send me a pm if I can help more. I've spent years and years on butterfly pictures and still have lots to learn. I envy you opportunities like this.
Peter (Art Frames)

You can see some of my things on Flickr
Reply With Quote
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to art frames For This Useful Post:
bassman (15th May 2018), Gate Keeper (16th May 2018)
The Following Users Liked This Post:
Gate Keeper (16th May 2018), Johnheatingman (15th May 2018), MJ224 (16th May 2018)