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Author Topic: ~ 2010 Butterfly Collection ~  (Read 15636 times)
JohnKoerner
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« on: February 12, 2010, 01:44:04 PM »
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Hello all;

It won't be too long now before things start warming-up here in North Florida to where, once again, the wilderness will be teaming with butterflies

I have updated my Butterfly Collection Website and will be continuously posting new specimens as they get captured throughout the new year. Here are some sample images taken from last year (and one from this year):




Jack




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« Last Edit: May 01, 2010, 03:52:32 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
Rocco Penny
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2010, 02:13:23 PM »
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Mr Koerner, I'm tickled by your website and photography.
I thought I was the only bloom chasing butterfly watcher,
do you have holes in the elbows of your favorite shirts?
OK cool website too,
I like the format adding as you go.
I'll keep watching for more as you get them.
PS
do you have tricks to get in close?
I'm using a 10-20 from time to time and have had a hard time getting in there with it.
Looking forward to more.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2010, 07:53:06 AM »
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Quote from: Rocco Penny
Mr Koerner, I'm tickled by your website and photography.
I thought I was the only bloom chasing butterfly watcher,

Thank you very much, and no, you're not the only bloom-chasing butterfly watcher  




Quote from: Rocco Penny
do you have holes in the elbows of your favorite shirts?

LOL, no, in Florida I am usually in a tank-top or short-sleeved shirt ... but I do have grass stains all over the pants from chasing these little things all over  




Quote from: Rocco Penny
OK cool website too,
I like the format adding as you go.
I'll keep watching for more as you get them.

Thank you. It's pretty fun actually. It all started out with me taking butterfly photos for my lil' niece in California ... now it is an obsession for me too, not just her  




Quote from: Rocco Penny
PS
do you have tricks to get in close?
I'm using a 10-20 from time to time and have had a hard time getting in there with it.
Looking forward to more.

Yes, the general rule is go in toward any specimen "low and slow" ... and, also, if you begin in the early morning (when it's still a little chilly) you will be much more likely to get up close to them, as they are more likely to remain in position trying to warm themselves up. Not only that, but the lighting is better. By midday, not only is the lighting harsh, but the butterflies are much faster and more wary.

Hope to see you add a few images of your own

Thanks,

Jack




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« Last Edit: February 13, 2010, 07:55:13 AM by JohnKoerner » Logged
Rocco Penny
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2010, 08:03:18 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
...

Hope to see you add a few images of your own

Thanks,

Jack




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Hi, I'm not sure if you mean it's OK to add an image or 2 so I'll only put recent ones.
I know there are a lot of monarch pictures out there.
I know many people have been very close to one.
I know some of you have them living in your bushes posing all day for you.
I walk 5 or so miles to a very special habitat and this is the best I could do!!Huh!!!
The signs point to lucky shot soon maybe.
Here's the King of the chaparral, Emperor of the pasture, and the Ruler of the farm who will jealously guard its domain with iron wings!
Chase every other butterfly it can off its hillside perch, and will bicker with every other butterfly in eyeshot.  
This is a small one.  I expect it'll be knocked off as alpha monarch by a larger one.
Last year's top bug was about 3 inches across.
I only have poor exposures from last year but now I have a purpose.
I will get a full view clear shot of my favorite quarry this year.
Here's the only one I got yesterday.
Me and the dog scared it off, but not before it swarmed in all up in my grill trying to buffalo me into retreat.
I didn't know there were so many crunchies on the pasture ground and it's impossible to not make crunching sounds.
I think the things feel vibration as much as anything.
And once they know I'm there, they leave never to return until the next round.
So today might see sun, if we do I'm going!!
« Last Edit: February 14, 2010, 08:05:03 AM by Rocco Penny » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2010, 03:43:31 PM »
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I slacked-off a bit on this thread, but here are 3 nice images I got of an Achemon Sphinx Moth today ...
















This is truly a beautiful animal in person, big enough almost to fill the palm of your hand ...

These images were shot with a Canon 7D and a 100mm f/2.8 L USM macro lens. The first and last images were shot firing the built-in flash, while the middle image was shot with natural lighting.

Enjoy,

Jack




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« Last Edit: May 01, 2010, 03:53:43 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
wolfnowl
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« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2010, 10:34:01 PM »
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Nicely done!  They're beautiful animals.

Mike.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2010, 03:57:27 AM »
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Thank you.




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solardarkroom.com
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« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2010, 10:29:27 AM »
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Nice work John! It's great to find others here with the same passion. You've got some species that might be common in your backyard that would give me a heart attack here in California. The grass is always greener....I've photographed about 80 species (including subspecies) in CA and AZ since getting the bug in 2006. After years of hiking with a macro lens and looking for something to photograph I now have a specific goal every time I go out.

You can find my own growing digital collection at:

http://www.solardarkroom.com/galleries/butterflies/

and a diary of my adventures here:

http://www.solardarkroom.com/blog/

Thanks for sharing,

David



Quote from: JohnKoerner
Hello all;

It won't be too long now before things start warming-up here in North Florida to where, once again, the wilderness will be teaming with butterflies

I have updated my Butterfly Collection Website and will be continuously posting new specimens as they get captured throughout the new year. Here are some sample images taken from last year (and one from this year):




Jack




.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2010, 06:13:40 AM »
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Quote from: solardarkroom.com
Nice work John! It's great to find others here with the same passion. You've got some species that might be common in your backyard that would give me a heart attack here in California. The grass is always greener....I've photographed about 80 species (including subspecies) in CA and AZ since getting the bug in 2006. After years of hiking with a macro lens and looking for something to photograph I now have a specific goal every time I go out.

Thank you very much David, and very nice of you to post. I more than sympathize with the "grass is greener" sentiment, as I am originally from California (Arcadia, which is not far from where you are either), and I looked with nostalgia at all the wonderful photos you have of species, many of which I have not seen in over a decade---some of which I had not seen ever!




Quote from: solardarkroom.com
You can find my own growing digital collection at:
http://www.solardarkroom.com/galleries/butterflies/
and a diary of my adventures here:
http://www.solardarkroom.com/blog/
Thanks for sharing,
David

That is a gogeous collection and I really do like your website. It's great that you have a knowledgeable person acting as a guide for you to go collecting. I really like your images and some of the shots you've captured are sensational. What equipment do you use? Also, I notice that all of your shots are taken with natural lighting. In many cases, I find natural lighting shots to be truly beautiful ... however, when the light is harsh, I find that the background lighting tends to become a not-so-pleasing green, which is where using a ringlight flash can really make a shot "pop" with the natural color of the specimen itself, rendering the background black (or near-black). Any thoughts on this?

In closing, great work yourself and I admire your dedication. I myself just started a blog a few days ago, so there's not much on it yet. But I really enjoyed reading yours, doubly-so since I used to be able to venture into (quite literally) the same areas where you are enjoying now.

Cheers!

Jack




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solardarkroom.com
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« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2010, 04:21:47 PM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Thank you very much David, and very nice of you to post. I more than sympathize with the "grass is greener" sentiment, as I am originally from California (Arcadia, which is not far from where you are either), and I looked with nostalgia at all the wonderful photos you have of species, many of which I have not seen in over a decade---some of which I had not seen ever!

That is a gogeous collection and I really do like your website. It's great that you have a knowledgeable person acting as a guide for you to go collecting. I really like your images and some of the shots you've captured are sensational. What equipment do you use? Also, I notice that all of your shots are taken with natural lighting. In many cases, I find natural lighting shots to be truly beautiful ... however, when the light is harsh, I find that the background lighting tends to become a not-so-pleasing green, which is where using a ringlight flash can really make a shot "pop" with the natural color of the specimen itself, rendering the background black (or near-black). Any thoughts on this?

In closing, great work yourself and I admire your dedication. I myself just started a blog a few days ago, so there's not much on it yet. But I really enjoyed reading yours, doubly-so since I used to be able to venture into (quite literally) the same areas where you are enjoying now.

Cheers!

Jack

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Jack:

First, thank you for your comments.

I'm shooting a 5DMkII and before 2009 a 30D. I own the 100mm Macro and occasionally rent longer glass for a particular species. As for flash, I used my 580 for the most recent shots of wintering monarchs. I made a long snoot out of foil that rested on top of a 600mm/f4. Otherwise no flash as you noticed. I have nothing against flash and indeed have some ideas about using my 580 wireless on the ground for fill. I like to shoot into the sun a lot to see the light through my subjects.

I actually love harsh light for this kind of photography. Many butterflies will perch with their wings parallel to the suns rays creating tiny shadows under each scale. This can create really great micro-contrast and make the image pop in that way. The time of day when landscape photographers are napping, I'm snapping. I also intentionally look for bright backgrounds and rarely find a color in nature I don't like. I just keep trying to find a POV that creates graphic lines and shapes and gradients that appeal to me. I don't consider the background less important than the subject but part of it. I guess it's just a matter of what inspires us. The dark backgrounds possible with flash are an effective way of isolating the subject so there's drama in that, not to mention the technical possibilities for extra DOF, reduced noise etc.

The key for me is research. I try to time my trips for when I think a particular species will be emerging and be there prepared. If I can find one that's just emerged it will be very sluggish and pose for extended periods. If my timing is perfect they'll also be moist and shiny still with every hair and scale in place. At this point it's more of a portrait sitting (with great hair and makeup people) than a paparazzo moment. During this time I'll continue to shoot, trying to solve each little problem one by one until I like what I'm seeing through the glass. I have spent upwards of 20 minutes with some freshly emerged butterflies and shot hundreds of frames until I got what I wanted. When I get home I end up deleting all but a few where the foliage, the wind, my perspective and the subjects behavior all come together in an image that captures the feeling I had in the moment.

I look forward to following your blog and photography in the future.

David
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2010, 07:24:18 AM »
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Quote from: solardarkroom.com
Jack:
First, thank you for your comments.
I'm shooting a 5DMkII and before 2009 a 30D. I own the 100mm Macro and occasionally rent longer glass for a particular species. As for flash, I used my 580 for the most recent shots of wintering monarchs. I made a long snoot out of foil that rested on top of a 600mm/f4. Otherwise no flash as you noticed. I have nothing against flash and indeed have some ideas about using my 580 wireless on the ground for fill. I like to shoot into the sun a lot to see the light through my subjects.

Hello again and very nice. Interesting that you like to see the light through your subjects. I will try that myself and see if I can come up with anything nice. Typically, I like the light to illuminate my subjects, not to go through them, but I can see where this perspective could produce some really interesting results.




Quote from: solardarkroom.com
I actually love harsh light for this kind of photography. Many butterflies will perch with their wings parallel to the suns rays creating tiny shadows under each scale. This can create really great micro-contrast and make the image pop in that way. The time of day when landscape photographers are napping, I'm snapping. I also intentionally look for bright backgrounds and rarely find a color in nature I don't like. I just keep trying to find a POV that creates graphic lines and shapes and gradients that appeal to me. I don't consider the background less important than the subject but part of it. I guess it's just a matter of what inspires us. The dark backgrounds possible with flash are an effective way of isolating the subject so there's drama in that, not to mention the technical possibilities for extra DOF, reduced noise etc.

Again, very interesting musings David, much different from my own in many ways. It's nice to be able to consider viewpoints other than my own. I appreciate the sentiment of not finding a color in nature that is not to like, but I myself oftentimes do. In my experience, sometimes the "natural" colors around (or behind) the butterfly will clash with the actual color of the butterfly, minimizing the impact of the animal rather than enhancing it. To me, this is where the flash comes in: it just wipes-out that unappealing color and makes the butterfly's own color pop. Another instance is shadows. Oftentimes butterfly will be on one flower, and the shadow of another flower is cast over the butterfly's wings. Without a flash, you get a big shadow across the butterfly ... but with the flash you get uniform color. And finally, there is the background. Oftentimes a convoluted mess of background sticks, grass, and/or dry earth can distract from an otherwise "perfect pose" of a beautiful butterfly. Again, the isolation of the flash, and the blacking of the background can make a beautiful image of what would have been an ordinary one.

On the other hand, sometimes I find the natural colors are so fresh and perfect that using a flash ruins the photo: the flash just can't capture the glorious hue of the moment. I am going to think about some of the things you have said here, though, regarding the appreciation of lines and form, and so I thank you for this thought as this might inspire new photo opportunities I otherwise wouldn't have thought of. Here is a photo that I really like that I feel really portrayed shape and form well:

 

 

Jack

PS: Thank you once again for your comments and contributions, and I will continue to follow your blog as well.




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solardarkroom.com
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2010, 11:04:41 AM »
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Quote from: JohnKoerner
Hello again and very nice. Interesting that you like to see the light through your subjects. I will try that myself and see if I can come up with anything nice. Typically, I like the light to illuminate my subjects, not to go through them, but I can see where this perspective could produce some really interesting results.






Again, very interesting musings David, much different from my own in many ways. It's nice to be able to consider viewpoints other than my own. I appreciate the sentiment of not finding a color in nature that is not to like, but I myself oftentimes do. In my experience, sometimes the "natural" colors around (or behind) the butterfly will clash with the actual color of the butterfly, minimizing the impact of the animal rather than enhancing it. To me, this is where the flash comes in: it just wipes-out that unappealing color and makes the butterfly's own color pop. Another instance is shadows. Oftentimes butterfly will be on one flower, and the shadow of another flower is cast over the butterfly's wings. Without a flash, you get a big shadow across the butterfly ... but with the flash you get uniform color. And finally, there is the background. Oftentimes a convoluted mess of background sticks, grass, and/or dry earth can distract from an otherwise "perfect pose" of a beautiful butterfly. Again, the isolation of the flash, and the blacking of the background can make a beautiful image of what would have been an ordinary one.

On the other hand, sometimes I find the natural colors are so fresh and perfect that using a flash ruins the photo: the flash just can't capture the glorious hue of the moment. I am going to think about some of the things you have said here, though, regarding the appreciation of lines and form, and so I thank you for this thought as this might inspire new photo opportunities I otherwise wouldn't have thought of. Here is a photo that I really like that I feel really portrayed shape and form well:

 

 

Jack

PS: Thank you once again for your comments and contributions, and I will continue to follow your blog as well.




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Jack:

It goes without saying that I'm interested in all your thoughts on this topic. If we were discussing landscape photography we'd have a lot more company! No photographer can resist shooting a butterfly that crosses their path but only a handful are gearing up for it specifically. If I had a ring or a twin-light flash my options would open up accordingly. I have a long wish-list of photographic equipment as most here surely do and when I win the lottery I'll close down Samy's in Hollywood for a day.  

You're fortunate to have such a lush property as I am to be 15 minutes away from the canyons of Malibu. Regardless, some species offer magnificent color and form only to present them on uninspiring backgrounds. Mother Nature doesn't always respect our aesthetic. I figure all I can do is fill the frame as best I can and find an oblique perspective to render some depth. A perfect specimen like those in your examples is always a great place to start.

Way to take the pain in the puppy pen  I know there are shots in my gallery that I appreciate more for the achievement of finally capturing them than the perceived artistic merits. The blog serves as a diary of these struggles and often that's as far as an image gets.

Have you joined a email group yet? There is surely a yahoo group for butterflies, Lepidoptera etc for your area. You'll find people who really know where to go at any given time when you want to find something different to photograph. I'm already planning my next trip to the Southern Sierra based on very exciting reports.

Happy Hunting,

David
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2010, 07:46:35 AM »
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Quote from: solardarkroom.com
Jack:
It goes without saying that I'm interested in all your thoughts on this topic. If we were discussing landscape photography we'd have a lot more company! No photographer can resist shooting a butterfly that crosses their path but only a handful are gearing up for it specifically. If I had a ring or a twin-light flash my options would open up accordingly. I have a long wish-list of photographic equipment as most here surely do and when I win the lottery I'll close down Samy's in Hollywood for a day.

This is very true David, and for a variety of reasons. A landscape photographer can check the weather and be 100% confident that, when he arrives at his location, it will be there. By contrast, the butterfly photographer can check the weather and arrive at the location ... but never actually get to see his subject, let alone capture it to camera. The landscape photographer's subject also sits still, and waits for him with eternal patience to tinker everything just right. By contrast, the butterfly photographer's subject is fickle at best, and may or may not wait even 1 second for him to get his gear ready ... let alone just sit there interminably waiting for each adjustment of gear.

So, as a fellow butterfly photographer, it can be frustrating!! But it can also be very rewarding when that perfect specimen is seen at all ... let alone strikes that perfect pose ... let alone waits there long enough for you to get everything right and capture that moment!

To be honest, this is why my interests have gravitated a bit to Florida Wildflowers, where at least my subject sits still, and where now all I have to do is wait for lulls in the ever-blowing breezes and wind  




Quote from: solardarkroom.com
You're fortunate to have such a lush property as I am to be 15 minutes away from the canyons of Malibu. Regardless, some species offer magnificent color and form only to present them on uninspiring backgrounds. Mother Nature doesn't always respect our aesthetic. I figure all I can do is fill the frame as best I can and find an oblique perspective to render some depth. A perfect specimen like those in your examples is always a great place to start.

Agreed, and thank you. I also have a place local to me called the "Butterlfy Rainforest" where many foreign and tropical species are imported weekly for release and public view. There are some really beautiful and exquisite specimens, however, as a photographer shooting them to camera is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. Capturing even the most beautiful specimen has nowhere near the serendipity of capturing a perfectly-shot native specinen, chanced-upon in the field. One of my favorite shots is the White Peacock above, as this was the first one I had ever seen in the wild.




Quote from: solardarkroom.com
Way to take the pain in the puppy pen  I know there are shots in my gallery that I appreciate more for the achievement of finally capturing them than the perceived artistic merits. The blog serves as a diary of these struggles and often that's as far as an image gets.

Yessir! Just getting some of them is nice. I recently got a couple of new hairstreaks, that I have yet to identify, and although the shots weren't all that great, just capturing them to camera (and thereby adding to my collection) was very rewarding for me too.




Quote from: solardarkroom.com
Have you joined a email group yet? There is surely a yahoo group for butterflies, Lepidoptera etc for your area. You'll find people who really know where to go at any given time when you want to find something different to photograph. I'm already planning my next trip to the Southern Sierra based on very exciting reports.
Happy Hunting,
David

No I haven't joined a group like that yet. There is a club in my area, however, and I send my photos to one of the co-authors of "Butterflies Through Binoculars-Florida" for species confirmation, but as far as actual trips with groups I have not done so yet. I pretty much just get out there with my girlfriend and we take photos of the Florida wildflowers and butterflies we come across.

But I very much do respect your dedicated butterfly trips, and please do share your photos from your next one, and very much I hope you are able to capture the images you have set out to get  

Jack




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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2010, 07:52:26 AM »
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Yesterday greeted me with this beautiful Luna Moth, so I thought I would share ...




Enjoy Smiley

Jack


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kpmedia
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2010, 10:12:40 PM »
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Ever since I planted butterfly bushes outside my house, I've had my pick of insects to shoot. Smiley

Some of your shots have the same sharpness/blurring imperfections mine have.
As do the shots of a friend of mine.
Erratic little buggers are hard to shoot sometimes.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2010, 06:42:09 AM »
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Ever since I planted butterfly bushes outside my house, I've had my pick of insects to shoot. Smiley
Some of your shots have the same sharpness/blurring imperfections mine have.
As do the shots of a friend of mine.
Erratic little buggers are hard to shoot sometimes.


Hello;

It's awfully hard to get a "perfect" still shot of something that moves, isn't it?

I've taken thousands of butterfly shots that get deleted because their imperfections are unacceptable. I have taken many shots that I have kept because the beauty of the image is more compelling than any of the minor flaws. I have taken hardly any shots that I consider "perfect."

What do you shoot with and do you have any examples of your own shots that you would be willing to share that you consider "perfect?"

I'd sure like to see them Smiley

Thanks,

Jack




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« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2010, 08:28:38 AM »
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The closest I've really gotten to a "perfect shot" (mostly referring to full focal coverage) is with this monarch. I have a lot of close ones with swallowtails, however. Most of my other bug photos are better focused.



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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2010, 10:12:33 AM »
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The closest I've really gotten to a "perfect shot" (mostly referring to full focal coverage) is with this monarch. I have a lot of close ones with swallowtails, however. Most of my other bug photos are better focused.


Thank you for the beautiful image Smiley

While I appreciate and understand your criticism of my work, let me offer my own of your work. While the focusing on the Monarch is outstanding, and the background bokeh is lovely, IMO it is far from a perfect shot because of the busy-ness of said background. While the creamy bokeh of the empty space is nice, and focuses attention on your subject, the green leaves and branches directly behind your subject compete with your subject and very much detract from the overall impact. Thus I believe, while the focusing is superb, and the subject is beautiful ... the composition is extremely flawed IMO.

Had you been a little closer, and had the background noise of the branches been omitted, I agree that would have been close to a perfect shot. As it is, however, IMO it was a badly-composed shot of a beautiful subject, taken with excellent focus and lighting technique.

I am more than willing to have any of my images dissected by you (or anyone else) also, as that is the best way to learn IMO Grin

Thanks!

Jack




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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2010, 02:36:37 PM »
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Yep. That's the reason I used the qualifier "mostly referring to full focal coverage" in there.  Wink Grin
Spent so much time worrying about the subject that the background got overlooked.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #19 on: August 17, 2010, 02:54:47 PM »
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Yep. That's the reason I used the qualifier "mostly referring to full focal coverage" in there.  Wink Grin
Spent so much time worrying about the subject that the background got overlooked.


Well, it's really hard to judge the focus on your image, since you really weren't very close to the subject to begin with, and the size of the image itself is so small. It is a lot harder to get "total focus" with a true 1:1 macro shot, given the limited DOF in macro lenses. Do you have any butterfly images where you got a close enough to the butterfly to get a true 1:1 macro shot, and don't have so much background? I'd sure like to see one that close with "total focus."

It is my belief that successful macro butterfly shots must at least "fill the frame" with the subject butterfly, otherwise they are "snapshots" and not true macro photos. The only exception to this generalization would be if the image is taken as an artistic expression, where the background enhances the image or if the butterfly is only "part" of the presentation. For example, in another thread ("Tiger in the Sun"), by Dwayne Oakes, his artistic photo has a great deal of background to it surrounding the butterfly ... but ALL of the background enhances the overall effect of the image IMO. It is very artistic.

By contrast, in your example, there isn't much "butterfly" to the image at all ... which means there's mostly background ... and said background doesn't do anything positive for the eye of the viewer (a blurred wall, leaves competing with the butterfly, etc.). While I always enjoy viewing any photo of a butterfly, the image you posted would honestly be a "delete" if it came out of my own camera.

Below is an example of a shot I took yesterday of a Long-Tailed Skipper:



Long-Tailed Skipper
(Click here for larger image)


To me, most of the important elements of this butterfly are in focus, but at this close proximity (and with the shallow DOF in macro lenses) not every single part will be. Had I gotten much closer, some part of the butterfly would have been cropped.

I believe this photo would qualify just fine for a "species identification" photo in any text- or reference book. I also believe that my background in no way competes with my subject and that my subject really stands out. However, there is nothing "artistic" about the background; it is just a leaf and black space. Thus this image does not have the same "artistic effect" of Dwayne's image of the Tiger Swallowtail.

As we all know, it is hard to get the perfect butterfly to land on the perfect subject, allowing for the perfect overall capture, and all of this serendipity to happen in perfect lighting Smiley

For me, the macro ringlight flash really allows me to photograph a butterfly (or moth) to its best presentation, with the understanding that when I use this flash I am not going to get that "buttery bokeh" that you and Dwayne get shooting without such a flash.

But, for the most part, I am comfortable with that trade-off: the butterfly really "popping" versus a bokeh background.

Thanks for reading,

Jack




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