September 17, 2007

Photographing Butterflies

This has been a great year for butterflies in the garden. The Monarchs came, they used the host plants of milkweed. The garden was certified as a Monarch Waystation. The Monarchs migrate south as far away as Mexico. With the loss of wild milkweed, it is crucial for gardeners to add this necessary host plant to help the Monarchs survive and thrive. (see my previous blog on Monarchs) I have also added a link to a very informative and educational blog on Monarchs and Milkweed written by one of my Forum Friends.

The Swallowtails were plentiful, sometimes they literally swarmed our butterfly bushes. Other butterflies were about and I tried to capture a few of the others with my camera to show you what varieties are found here in the Triangle area of North Carolina.

These first photos were taken last week in my garden. The last ones were taken earlier.

If you are interested in the camera that I use, it's a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS Digital Elph, 7.1 megapixels. I used the macro focus setting for the Red-banded Hairstreak, Common Buckeye, the Swallowtails and the Monarch. I used the zoom for the photos of the Pearl Crescent and the Variegated Fritallary. As you can see, the macro focus shots are much more detailed and finer quality. All of these photos have been compressed from several megabytes down to a size that will load quickly on the blog.

I carry the camera in my pocket and watch for the butterflies while I'm going about my gardening or strolls. Sometimes it is easy to get a close-up with the macro when the butterfly is calm and quiet on the flowers. However, if they are flitting about, I will resort to using the zoom lens knowing that the photos won't be as crisp.

I try to focus on the butterfly and wait for the wings to be open so that I can capture the full pattern. However, I won't pass on a great photo when the wings are closed. It usually takes a dozen or so shots of one butterfly to get one that's great. They are moving, so like kids and pets, you have to be patient and ready to snap a shot without a blur. I use a high-speed memory card to store the photos. The high speed allows my camera to be ready for the next shot very quickly.

None of these butterfly photos have been edited (except to add text to a few). I did not change the lighting or color balance with a photo editor. I cropped a bit of brown mulch off of the Pearl Crescent photo. What you see is what I got in the shot.

I use the software that is provided with the Canon camera to upload the photos to my PC. You can also use the software to export the photos and change the size so that they won't be so large when you post them or email them.

I use Google Picasa (web version) to organize and post photos here in my blogs and in the forums that I frequent. The slideshow that is embedded at the bottom of the blog page contains all the photos from this blog since the beginning. So, if you see the same photo twice, that's because I've used a photo more than once over time. All of my blog photos are automatically added to an album for me by Picasa.

Red-banded Hairstreak:

Pearl Crescent:

Variegated Fritallary:

Common Buckeye:

A Red Admiral showed up on September 19th.

Previous photos taken earlier this summer of Swallowtails and a Monarch:

By the way, all of the photos in my Tour of Tuscany blog were taken using the same camera. Other photos shown on this blog and my Define Before Design blog that were taken since March 2007 were from the Canon camera.

Happy gardening!
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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