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Old Jul 31, 2010, 2:24 PM   #1
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Default Skipper Butterflies

My butterfly pictures don't come close to those posted here, but are the best I've managed of these skittish, tiny butterflies. I hadn't even planned on shooting them when I went out at lunch - I started off with just the 35mm macro on the K7, I had nothing in mind but sitting in the sun for a while (the air conditioning in my office is sometimes too efficient).

To give you an idea of the size - the plants are low ground-cover planted around my office building. Its something commonly used and the flowers are small (but I don't know what they are). Find the butterfly and you'll get an idea of how big they are. K7, DA 35 Macro Limited:



There was no way they would hold still long enough for me to use the 35 for some close-ups. They are called skippers because of the fact they don't hold still very long. So I went back to get the Viv 105 macro.

The characteristic way this butterfly holds its wings, they look like jets.



The rest of the pictures were taken with the Viv 105. They are all significantly cropped, a couple are close to 100%. I normally don't have the patience to shoot butterflies, but it felt so good just sitting in the sun. So I sat there and for once, took pictures as they happened. The butterflies didn't like the sound of the shutter and would move off every time I took a picture. Of course, they didn't stay very long in any one spot even when I wasn't shooting.





I cropped this picture a couple of different ways. Which of them do you prefer?

Non-traditional:



Closer:



Last one:



About the only thing I can think of for improving these is to use a longer lens as I can't get any closer. Maybe use a smaller aperture? I didn't want to use any slower a shutter speed, trying to avoid both camera shake and motion blur. They move quickly so I found I rushed things and had more than normal showing camera shake.
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Old Jul 31, 2010, 2:54 PM   #2
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Hmm and someone said they can't take good macros ! I didn't even realise these were butterflies ... I'm sure I've seen them around and thought they were moths !

I like the last two best ... lots & lots of detail & a beautiful bokeh, especially with those gorgeous background colours. The 4th is also very good because it perfectly demonstrates the wing formation you mentioned.
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Old Aug 1, 2010, 11:33 AM   #3
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Great series Harriet, a skipper isn't the more restfull butterfly around and you did a great job. Also with the 35mm you had to go real close.

Really like nr 4 where you can see how it holds its wings up.

I prefer the last crop best because the skipper is bigger, but if the top one was bigger it would be hard to choose.

Again a great series

Ronny
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Old Aug 1, 2010, 4:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the opinion, Ronny. When viewed full sized on a big monitor I liked having the extra color in the 1st crop, but agree that the butterfly isn't really big enough when it's been resized to show here. I'm not used to taking macros of things that move, and haven't been taking much more than close-ups recently. The Viv is such a forgiving lens, even if it is manual focus. I may just have to try this again, it was a very pleasant lunch break from work, and a way to get enthusiastic about photography again (I've been rather blah about everything recently).
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Old Aug 1, 2010, 6:41 PM   #5
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Nice shots Harriet.

I like the wing configuration of this butterfly. Nice color and sharp pictures. I like the 4th and last best as it shows off the wig.

Lou
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Old Aug 2, 2010, 8:07 AM   #6
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Some really fine photos of a cute little skipper. I do like the first of the two crops - it shows plenty of detail of the butterfly, but also the great color of its habitat! And the last photo is especially fine & detailed.

PS - I would never even try to get a butterfly close-up with anything less than 100mm!
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Old Aug 2, 2010, 3:44 PM   #7
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Except for the first one, all of these were taken with the Vivitar Series One 105 mm macro - there's no way I could get them with the 35. I sure like having both macros, they have different talents and are both fun, I can't imagine being without them both now. I'm so glad I took all of your suggestions for buying both of them - I don't shoot comparison shots because they are so different. You just don't use them for the same things so there's no point in doing comparisons.
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Old Aug 2, 2010, 9:10 PM   #8
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Hey Harriet,
good job! this series brought back a flood of memories of when I was a little boy living in southern cal. We had thousands of these critters in the neighborhood!
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Old Aug 2, 2010, 9:53 PM   #9
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Harriet, you can stop complaining that you can't get decent butterfly pictures! These are as good as anyone's
- all it takes is a little patience.

The bad news is that those little Flame Skippers are among the more tranquil ones! I have been trying unsuccessfully for days to get a couple of what I think might be Umber Skippers (new ones for me), but then they have been frenetically trying to mate, and the female is definitely not receptive! I hope I am around with camera at the ready when she finally submits, because then they will HAVE to sit still!

BTW, I don't think it is the noise of your shutter that startles them - I think they can see the camera's mirror flip (you are not the only one looking through the lens) - I have been convinced for a long time that birds can!
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Old Aug 2, 2010, 10:42 PM   #10
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And you call these tranquil?! Anything less tranquil will be almost impossible to capture. I can't tell you how many pictures of bare flowers I took - they were gone by the time I pressed the shutter.

Today I tried shooting them with a couple of non-macro lenses that are longer than 100 mm. It was a complete disaster! It didn't help that I had SR turned off (was shooting charts yesterday for a lens profile and forgot to turn it back on) and somehow changed Ev to a +.7. But I had trouble with focus distance and AF didn't help me at all, if anything I did better with the manual focus lens. Maybe I'll try sports tomorrow - it can't be any harder than trying to capture these little things.

Please post the other skippers if you manage them, I'd love to see your pictures.
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