18 May 2015

Butterflies and Moths

After initial success with my Fly Macro I have where possible moved into capturing any form of insect or mammal. In this Blog I show what Butterflies and Moths I have captured with not only the Macro set-up but also general lenses. My initial finding was that Butterflies are very skittish and prefer distance between you and them. So a steep curve to getting any shots was embarked on. With some experimentation I wondered if the old 300mm Prime lens would work on the macro extension tubes. So one sunny Sunday in July 2013, while out walking the dogs and armed with this set-up and the other lenses just in case, we set off on the hunt. At the edge of one particular stretch of woods, south easterly facing, was full of Thistle in flower. Being late afternoon the Butterflies were as usual very shy. But with perseverance it paid off.

Painted Lady

Small Tortoiseshell

 The extension tubes allowed the 300mm to enlarge these perfectly and sharp too. I could stand easily 6 feet away from them. The Sun really defines the vibrant colour and form of them. Although very common species, I have always wanted to capture them on film, well digital now...lol.

Small Moth (species unknown)

 The next to come along was in fact indoors on my Settee and so far unable to identify this Moths species. It was very small, about 2cm across and are very common. I loved the contrast between the brown material and the silver pattina. Light was very low and several attempts were made before it paid off for me.

Stacked with several exposures

October of 2013 was the next time a Moth appeared or at least stayed around long enough to photograph. One evening this Moth was hanging around on the garden table. Having read about focus stacking, I had chance to try as this Moth being late evening was very docile, due to lower temperature I believe. About 6 shots from memory were used in this and a stacking program was used to combine them together. I am fairly pleased with the result as the head has so much detail and good depth in focus too.

Well nearly a year passed before I had chance for Butterflies again. The next proved to be at a glorious open house garden with a small and unique classic car show on. The Gardens were full of insect life. Bright golden flowers, some Sunflowers were in full use by Butterflies. Trying another technique by using my 50-200mm I was able to be far enough away just as my first time, but without the need of the extension tubes and getting full metering by the camera too. There were so many of these feeding on the Nectar along with Peacock Butterflies too (I have not included any of them due to very distracting backgrounds and foliage).

Several days later up on the Devils Kneading Trough Reserve on the North Downs I was able to capture a very small but beautiful Butterfly. The Brown Argus. There were several about along with Common Blues, but they proved too elusive to photograph! This time I used my 150-500mm lens at around 500mm. I know the minimum focus is 6ft and thought it would work on these too. Which to my surprise it has. Although the weight of the lens made life very difficult as I had no monopod at this time.

Brown Argus

Then further on on the hill a Meadow Brown with a red parasite on it was spotted. It was preoccupied with feeding I could spend some time shooting it. By coincidence a friend at my camera club had also photographed it around the same time and entered it in the club league competition.

I am very impressed with the quality the lens has delivered and given true representation of these.

A Night on the tiles

Just 3 days later at my girlfriends this Small Tortoiseshell hung around and then landed on the side of the house. I saw a opportunity to do something different and have a comical touch to this. With some tweaking of colour balance etc, I wanted to portray this as being at twilight. Seeing the tiles gave me the idea of a narrative that it would be spending a "Night on the tiles" as the saying goes. Just a twist and bit of fun on a very popular subject.

Next to come and last until this season was an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar. This was spotted the day before in the garden of the house I was decorating at. So the next day I took the camera with me with the expectation of it still being around. And as luck had it, not only this one but another was also in the same patch of plant. Many years ago I actually found a Privet Hawkmoth caterpillar and kept it until it transferred into the Moth and let it go. So I knew this one was the Elephant being brown in colour. I believe it is starting to show signs of transforming into the Chrysalis state with the sheen on its back.

So here you have it, several ways of capturing these beautiful insects but all providing the same results. Hopefully 2015 will also provide some for me to document.

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