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Thread: Butterfly Garden

  1. #1

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    Butterfly Garden

    I am going to one today..a smalll one, but one where they allow the full life cycle to take place, so I am likely to see larvae, cocoons, and the like.

    I am thinking I will take my 55-300 and 35mm though I could take the 18-108...never gone out to do a deliberate butterfly shoot, so any advice would be graciously accepted.

    I will take my tripod, though now wish I had a monopod.

  2. #2
    jiro's Avatar
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    Willie or Jiro is fine by me.

    Re: Butterfly Garden

    Take all the lens you can bring. I only have two lens with me (the 18-70mm zoom and the 50mm f/1.8) so yours can do a far better job than what I did. Considering the versatility of your D7000, I don't think you need to use a tripod. It will just slow you down as butterflies are very finicky and they react quickly to intruders. Set your ISO to the lowest if you have good sunlight, otherwise go for ISO 400 to keep your shutter speed above 1/125 second. Bring your gray card and start your shot with that as your white balance reference. Shoot RAW whenever possible (which is not an issue if you have a big capacity SDHC card with you). Don't forget to listen to the garden facilitator regarding their rules and policies and obey them (like not touching any of the butterflies or even the flowers and stuff). Lastly... ENJOY!

  3. #3

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    Re: Butterfly Garden

    Quote Originally Posted by MiniChris View Post
    I am going to one today..a smalll one, but one where they allow the full life cycle to take place, so I am likely to see larvae, cocoons, and the like.

    I am thinking I will take my 55-300 and 35mm though I could take the 18-108...never gone out to do a deliberate butterfly shoot, so any advice would be graciously accepted.

    I will take my tripod, though now wish I had a monopod.


    Chris , i usually use my 300 for butterflies. As long as you have good light, i find freehand the best. They move around so much and are very quick as well.

    For the still shots, a tripod and a macro would prob. work very well.

    I like to look for flowers that i can isolate my subject from the background clutter. Just step back and look for the flowers that will give you the shots your after. (good cross light/good distance from the background/eye level with subject etc) Then instead of chasing the butterflys around like and idiot (been there done that ) , wait for them to come to you. Find yourself several flowers that will give the results your looking for and if the action slows down in one area, move to one of the other areas for a while. and then back again.

    IMO, 20 bad shots with a bunch of clutter in the background, arn't worth the 1 or 2 isolated keepers.

    Usually if you get one to feed on your target flower, you'll get a really good series of shots. Make shure you're ready for the shot and have the camera set up for the proper exposure. (shoot a few practice shots and check your histograms to confirm.)


    Hope this helps chris. Have fun and i hope you get some keepers.

  4. #4

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    Re: Butterfly Garden

    Good info...I was leaning in that direction anyway as I did not want to lug around a lot of equipment that I already have packed for my trip.

  5. #5

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    Re: Butterfly Garden

    I would assume that in a controlled environment the butterflies will be a bit 'tamer' than in the wild.

    For real wild butterflies, I would advise something between 100 and 200 mm to work at around 2 to 4 ft. My normal 180 mm macro lens works well although even this can get a bit short for the smaller species.

    What is the minimum focusing distance of your 55-300? This may be an issue, although if you can focus to around 3 ft it should be the ideal lens. But you might also want to take some flower shots.

    Are tripods allowed there? I know they are a bit cumbersome at times but my success rate for decent handheld butterfly photos is exceptionally low. Working with a tripod, I still like to keep the shutter speed reasonably high so that I can work without cable release etc which does cut down on shooting time and increases my success rate.

    Also, is flash acceptable? I find it can cause problems with spooking the subjects and often makes them twitch or close their wings which might spoil a shot. But it does allow for the use of ISO 100 instead of 800 and usually gives better colour.

  6. #6

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    Re: Butterfly Garden

    I think, mostly for practice purposes, I am going to take my 100mm macro which has a full or limit switch so I can switch from macro to a standard 100mm instantly. Another feature I like about the lens is that you can lock the barrel down to keep the weight of the lens from moving and tossing your focus about.

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