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Old Feb 5, 2007, 1:02 AM   #1
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I woke up at 5:30 AM last Saturday to try and catch some monarch butterflies in the morning light at a butterfly grove in Pismo Beach, CA. Unfortunately for me, I didn't read up on butterfly behavior. They congregate high-up in trees when it's cold, and their undersides make it hard to distinguish from leaves. So I left the grove groggy, grumpy, and without any pictures. I returned to the grove around 2PM, and the weather was nice and somewhat warm. I'm glad I returned, because I was floored at how many butterflies were about. Supposedly there were over 60,000 butterflies in the grove! Even more amazing, in the past there were MORE, with 200,000 monarchs being the highest amount for the area.

Despite the plethora of the butterflies, the critters were still a pain in the behind to photograph. There was a barrier, so we couldn't get too close (protected environment). I had to make do with what I could reach with my 28-200.

Some lessons learned: expect to spend a LOT of time trying to catch a detailed shot of butterflies in flight; it's nearly impossible to accomplish. You'd think with the numerous butterflies I'd be able to capture some down low in flight; I gave up after about 30 minutes of trying. A faster lens would have helped with sharpness. A tripod or monopod would have helped with stabilization, as I was pointing the camera upwards most of the time.

Anyway, I came out with only two decent shots.

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Old Feb 5, 2007, 1:03 AM   #2
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These two monarchs were having a battle on the ground. Eventually one of the pair was victorious and carried the loser off to some unknown location, probably to dump the body. I never knew butterflies were so aggressive!

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Old Feb 5, 2007, 9:06 AM   #3
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Wow! Can't believe how many butterflies there are! Don't worry about not getting a good picture of one flying - I can't get a good picture of one on a flower, no matter how many times or varieties I've tried! And do I hear a need for some type of 300mm lens in your future?
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Old Feb 5, 2007, 11:34 AM   #4
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here you go harriet
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Old Feb 5, 2007, 11:43 AM   #5
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in new orleans as a kid we use to come upon large milkweeds that would have hundreds of newly hatched monarhs on them.. it's quite a sight. here's another for you harriet.
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Old Feb 5, 2007, 11:54 AM   #6
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Don't bother, Harriet, he's just teasing you:-)

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Old Feb 5, 2007, 2:17 PM   #7
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Man, I need a better zoom.
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Old Feb 5, 2007, 3:41 PM   #8
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See what I mean? Arrrrh! I managed one picture that I thought was pretty good and then these guys post their awesome photos - totally intimidates me!
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Old Feb 5, 2007, 4:54 PM   #9
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the ones i posted was with a 70,75-300 Prospec lens. i sold and got the 70-300 sigma APO. the prospec was a lot sharper than the sigma. wish i still had it.. live and learn..

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