Although photography is not really part of gardening I was asked the other day about photographing birds and butterflies and so I thought this post may be of interest to those of you who are interested in capturing special moments in your garden.
Photographing butterflies requires patience while waiting for that right opportunity to come along; have your camera ready to go, kick back and enjoy the beautiful flowers until it does. Having your own flower garden to attract butterflies is the best place, in my opinion, to capture your pictures. It’s convenient, away from crowds and, I believe, butterflies feel at ease with your presence after a short time when they know you mean no harm thus allowing you to stand just inches away from them. Nature parks are also places to get good shots of butterflies and so are butterfly gardens which usually have a large variety of species from around the world.
The only equipment I use is a digital camera. The two most important features of a camera for photographing a butterfly, your subject, is a high optical zoom (don’t confuse this with digital zoom – in my opinion, digital zoom produces a poor quality picture) and macro mode (with macro mode you can focus in clearly with your lense just inches away from your subject). Both features allow you to close in on your subject sharply and will blur the background, eliminating distractions, thus drawing one’s attention to the butterfly’s eye-catching designs and colors.
When photographing butterflies, be creative and bring your pictures to life. Use different angles. Shoot from the front, sides and back of your subject. Shoot at eye level or try an upward shot. Catch the butterflies in different poses. Shoot when they are in flight or flapping their wings. Experiment. If your camera offers manual controls, use a slow shutter speed to blur the movement and a fast shutter speed to freeze it. If you can’t adjust your shutter speed, the more light in your picture the faster your speed will be. If the opportunity allows, look at your subject and background closely through the view finder before clicking. Sometimes just moving your lens a tad bit will make a big difference in how your picture turns out.
Lighting is another way of bringing your pictures to life. The best time of the day to shoot is when the sun is not harsh, such as in the early morning and in the evening but don’t let this stop you from shooting on a sunny afternoon though. Try taking a picture with the sun behind your subject. This will give a wonderful silhouette look to your picture. Flashes can have a benefit or two, but I don’t use one. I feel nature’s light is the best!
Practice makes perfect. Take a lot of pictures. More than half of mine are deleted (great thing about digital cameras). When you spot a butterfly in the distance, I suggest taking a picture where you are, step a little closer (slowly and quietly), take another picture and so on until you get that perfect close-up or the butterfly flies away. A lot of times the first picture you take may be good enough to crop. It won’t be a large size but it will always be a memory to hold onto.