Capture Picture Perfect Butterfly Photographs

Follow these tips to get picture perfect butterfly photos:

  • Use a macro lens with a minimum focus distance 12 inches or less so you can capture close-up, full frame detail.
  • Position yourself at eye level to the butterfly.
  • Keep the composition very simple. Do a four corner perimeter check around your frame and physically move your body to eliminate or add elements.
  • Look for butterflies that are in pristine condition (i.e., no chips in their wings, both antennas, all legs, etc.). Once you find one, follow it until you can get a great shot.
  • Use Manual exposure mode to control shutter speed and aperture.
  • Use matrix metering and single/spot auto focus. Put your focus point on the eye.
  • Take photos with and without flash to get a variety of photos.
  • Without Flash:
    • Choose angles where light is illuminating through a wing and/or a leaf to give a three dimensional perspective.
    • Choose angles where the background is colorful and a nice contrasting color to the butterfly .
    • Choose angles to get as much of the butterfly in the same plane of focus (i.e., profiles are a good choice)
    • Shutter speed 1/100s – 1/250s, Aperture f/5 – f/9, ISO 200 – 800.
  • With Flash:
    • Use off-camera flash with a soft box to soften/spread the flash light (i.e., Lumiquest Soft Box III).
    • Set shutter speed to synchronize with your flash.
    • Shutter speed 1/250s, Aperture f/18 – f/29, ISO 200.
    • Adjust flash compensation to minimize the amount of flash used to illuminate the butterfly .

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