Sunday, November 15, 2015

Return of the Flying Flowers

Over the summer, I spend a good amount of time at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens. A typical morning at the garden would include two or three hours inside the butterfly conservatory, a relatively small space filled with exotic butterflies. I wrote about my learning experiences with the butterflies a few months ago and you can read it here.

During my time with the butterflies, I took hundreds of shots in my attempt to learn and experiment. Of course, 90% of my images got tossed out. But from those shooting experiences, I became more successful at capturing my vision of a butterfly. And so it was that during a recent visit to Fairchild, I limited my shots to a couple specific locations where I thought I might get the most interesting image of a butterfly. I paid attention to the background, and checked the DOF preview before shooting; and I avoided dark shadows and blow out highlights. Consequently, I took fewer shots and spent most of my time watching and waiting.

The image above was the shot I was looking for. I love the palm leaf and its dynamic pattern filling the entire background. To go with the complementary red and green colors, I just needed a colorful butterfly to land within the frame. So I waited and kept my focus on the plant, and set up for a vertical shot while resting the lens on a monopod. Finally, a golden birdwing landed and click, click, click.

Compositionally, I love this image. But unfortunately, it isn't sharp. C'est la vie. In fact, I think I may have captured one acceptable image from the entire morning (see image below). After a few more attempts, I left the butterflies feeling humbled once again. But I also left there with thoughts of new strategies and how I would one day, get that shot.

That's what it's all about; photographing for the shear joy of it, but at the same time, challenging ourselves. And doing it with a vision because it is that vision that keeps us coming back to the same location again and again.

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