Butterfly photography attracts many photographers who shoot nature. Butterflies are so popular due to their elusiveness and elegance. A desire to look closer at the color of their wings, capture a moment of them drinking nectar, find out about the process of becoming a butterfly from a caterpillar leads to amazing butterfly photos. Follow these recommendations and you will achieve wonderful photos.
These charming little creatures are very sensitive to someone’s presence. At the slightest rustle, they leave the place where they were just sitting. This is why working with butterfly photography is so difficult.
I have collected a list of recommendations that will help you figure out what to start with and how to achieve desired pictures of these beauties.
You can take pictures of butterflies from April till the end of August as this is their time. The most widespread types of butterflies are already accustomed to the bustle of the city and you can always find them even in your garden. You will easily find butterflies in any place like this because flowers and a lot of greenery definitely attracts them.
Butterflies are fearful creatures and you should be careful while taking photos of them. Quiet smooth movements, silence, and patience are the main factors for the ideal picture.
However, you also have to take consider your outfit. Dark shades of your clothing will attract less attention which means they will be less frightening for butterflies. You should approach this question very carefully.
Another thing that can frighten off a butterfly is your shadow. Try to always choose the angle so that your shadow doesn’t fall on the body of a butterfly. They like sun and warmth but when you suddenly cover it, they have no choice but to move to a safer and warmer place.
It’s not a secret that butterflies are attracted by bright colors and sweet smells. That’s why you are likely to find them in a flower field, greenhouse, arboretum or any other place with a lot of flowers.
You will be able to take colorful butterfly pictures where they are sitting on a flower in the floral background. Like in the example, everything looks simple and beautiful.
Such states as Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and counties like Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Nebraska, and Montana are rich in different types of butterflies and can provide you good possibilities for photographing butterflies. In these places, you can always find butterflies while simply walking there.
If you want to enjoy the view of exotic butterflies, the butterfly center at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences in Texas is the place you should definitely visit.
You can see a lot of these beauties in places with many aromatic flowers which will provide an amazing butterfly on flower picture. They often fly together, in pairs, which gives the possibility to capture the moment of two and more butterflies sitting on one flower.
They are very active and can show a lot of interesting things in this way. You just need to manage to take pictures of this. Let’s all agree on this, seeing a few butterflies on one flower is very surprising.
You should remember that butterflies are the most active in the morning. They fully spread their wings to bask in the sun. In addition to this, in the mornings the light is soft. This means that your butterfly photograph will not have any sharp shadows or bright glares.
Keep the sun behind you so that the butterfly will be evenly lit. Also, I recommend that you take a picture of a butterfly in the sunrise background. In this way, the lighting will create a frame around the wings and it will look as if this butterfly is glowing.
Shooting butterflies while they are flying may not bring you the desired result. That’s why when you have found a place with a lot of butterflies, spend a minute or two and simply observe. It seems that it comes back to the same flower over and over again.
Just watch them, then take a flower and wait until a butterfly flies to you. Choose a flower that is in the shade as sharp shadows take away the beauty of a photo. Also, pay attention to the background to make sure it complements a butterfly.
Sometimes, you can see butterflies that are already used to people and can easily sit on their hands, clothes or other places. If you want to take such a picture and butterflies aren’t flying to you, you can drop sweet water on your hand and stretch it out. In most cases, they sit on the hand and then you can take a photo of this moment.
If you walk around the arboretum, greenhouse or a garden and observe everything thoroughly, you can find cocoons of caterpillars. This is another great variant for butterfly photography.
If you have the possibility, I very recommend you to come to this place every day or every other day to observe and take photos of the formation of a butterfly and its birth.
Butterflies are very active when the sun is shining and the weather is warm but in cold weather, they often sit in the same place and it’s more real to get closer to them. In this case, you can take the most detailed pictures.
It should be noted that their color becomes a bit colder and you definitely need to capture this. Early morning or late evening is the ideal time for this idea.
We are used to seeing butterflies among greenery and flowers. Also, it’s pretty common when they fly into the building. If it is sitting on a plain-colored wall, like in this picture, it will emphasize the bright wings of this butterfly.
Like in nature, here you also need to be careful not to frighten it off. However, in this case, there might be not enough light in the building, so you will have to fix it using the settings.
In order to get as close to the butterfly as possible without frightening it off, you should squat or lay on the ground. This is not only a favorable position but quite an interesting viewing angle too.
In this way, you will be able to find out a bit more about the life of these wonderful creatures. I would also like to add that due to the blue sky in the background which will ideally convey the atmosphere, your photos will be very beautiful.
When you are standing above a butterfly, it’s also quite an interesting angle to shoot from for butterfly photography. Thus, you will have the possibility to capture a special pattern on the wings and show it in all its beauty while they are basking in the sun.
However, in such a case, you need to be very careful and make sure that your shadow doesn’t fall on the body of the butterfly. Otherwise, you simply won’t achieve the shot.
This is one of the most difficult ways to shoot butterfly photography but during this process, you will understand that it’s definitely worth it. First of all, you have to find out where there is a large number of butterflies.
Then, prepare to spend a lot of time lying down and waiting. You will have to wait for flying by butterflies and “catch” them in the burst mode.
As for details, butterflies are very complex insects, just look at their scaly wings. You need to remember that even with small apertures, you might not have enough depth of field to capture everything in detail.
Try shooting a butterfly in the way that her wings are parallel to your lens. This position in one plane can guarantee a sharp and detailed image as a result.
Some photographers like to focus on wings but eyes are something that many photographers never think of. Just look at how the focus of this detail makes the butterfly stand out in the background instead of blending into the environment.
A sharp transition from the blurred part to the focused one gives a striking effect. It’s difficult to shoot in this way but the result is worth it.
Nature can be cruel even if you are a beautiful butterfly. The shot where the butterfly is trapped in the web can rarely be captured. You have to go to many places and carefully look around in order to find such.
Of course, in this case, it’s motionless and it won’t be difficult to take a picture of it. Here, you can come to it from any angle and shoot everything ideally. Oddly enough, but such shots are somehow attractive.
For a great result in photography butterfly, it’s very important to have a qualitative camera, created specifically for shooting details. For example, Olympus TG-5. It’s the best camera that provides high-quality photos with a high level of detail.
Its two main advantages are its compactness and price. As for its impressive autofocus capabilities, I must say that the range of focal lengths allows you to focus on the object at a distance of up to 0.4 inches.
Using a lens for shooting butterflies is also important as with it, you will get sharper and more detailed photos. I recommend choosing a lens from 100 to 200mm. This is the most optimal option.
In such a case, you can always rely on Nikon 105 mm as it provides sharp and focused pictures. This lens is quite universal for everything, from macro to classic portrait photos and with fact autofocus, the objects will be sharp at any angle.
You can achieve qualitative photos when your camera doesn’t shake and vibrate when you press the button. It should be stable and change its height approximately from 35 to 160 cm so that it’s convenient for you to work with it. The weight of the tripod is also important because you may spend a lot of time looking for butterflies and it will be heavy for you to carry all the equipment on yourself.
Sirui NT-1005X tripod is ideal for this. It’s a very successful model as its three legs with five sections and a lifting mechanism allow you to change the height. Despite aluminum construction and weight of 1.44 kg, it’s quite strong and firm.
It can easily hold 10 kg. It’s also easy and fast to install it, from a few legs to the ball head using a quick-release plate. All the mechanisms are smooth and reliable.
Use ISO from 100 to 400 to maintain the high quality of your photo. Stick to 100 as much as possible to avoid noise in the picture. When you get in the shade, you can increase the value to 400.
Now, let’s move on to the size of the aperture that you need to use for butterfly photography. As you take macro photos, the background will be blurred regardless of the aperture that you are using. In this way, you could also avoid using such values as f/1.8 or f/2.
They will only make the depth of field narrower and make it harder to focus. Instead of this, keep aperture between f/8 and f/22. The depth of field that they produce will help you maintain the sharpness of the object.
Finally, let’s talk about exposure. As butterflies move fast, you have to prevent blur. For this, I recommend using a short shutter speed of at least 1/180 sec, because without this your butterfly will look blurred in the photo. If you want the wings of the butterfly to look sharp, the values of 1/500 sec and more will be ideal.
Another very popular question that arises when photographing butterflies and other small insects is “Should I choose macro or telephoto lens?”
Macro lenses allow you to take close-ups of small objects. The best options for butterfly macro photos are from 100 mm to 200 mm. With them, you can perform macro shooting at a sufficiently large distance in order to remain unnoticed.
As for telephoto lenses, there are several variants available on the market. Usually, they are in the range of 70-300 mm and claim that they are capable of macro photography. But most telephoto lenses are designed for focusing on distant objects and not for reproducing closer objects at high magnification. There is no direct connection between the telephoto focal length and macro capability.
Most real macro lenses have a fixed focal length that allows them to be simpler and cheaper than a comparable zoom lens and provide a better quality of the picture at close distances from the subject.
Butterflies are beautiful the way they are but what if something is missing in some photos or you want to play with colors and check how they would look like? Use these plug-ins and make your photo more beautiful.
Use this preset to make your picture more saturated. Warm shades will replace cold which will return the picture a natural look. The butterfly itself will become lighter and its colors will look truly stunning. This preset will be ideal for you if you took pictures in cloudy weather.
There is a lot of greenery around butterflies and with this preset, it will look fresher and definitely contrast well with a bright butterfly. Download this preset and you will see that with a simple change of the color of the plants, the butterfly will look more highlighted.
With this action, you will achieve wonderful pictures. Highlighted dark places will organically contrast with a bright butterfly. Warm shades will give a vintage look, which will emphasize the charm of all the details of the butterfly.
This free tool pays enough attention to the details. This action makes butterfly wings sharper, highlights scales and turns a photo into a masterpiece.
This overlay will complement your butterfly picture and make the sun rays gently lay on butterfly wings. It will create the impression that it flew here to enjoy this warmth. Download this overlay and add bright sun rays to your photos.