Thursday, July 2, 2015
Eye To Eye With A Butterfly
They fly, they flit, and often refuse to stay put long enough to get a decent shot. But when they do, butterflies are super subjects.
As a general rule, butterflies are less flighty in the early morning and the late afternoon. This one, however, was photographed at mid-day as it feasted on a lantana plant. It stayed put long enough for me to get a few shots.
Full disclosure - I was NOT this close to it. All critters need to be given a certain amount of space so that they do not become alarmed. I got as close as I could, given the size of the plant it was on, but even so the original image shows the entire butterfly and some of the flowers it was sitting on. It was seriously cropped later when I optimized the image in Lightroom. What you see here is only about 10% to 15% of the original image.
With today's fine cameras and lenses it is possible to crop out considerably more than half of the original image and still retain good quality. BUT in order to preserve good quality at such an extreme enlargement the original image must be sharp. Very sharp.
Some photographers do very well using manual focus. I am not one of them. I rely on autofocus for all my images. In order to get the sharpest images it is important to focus on an area of contrast or a hard-edged line. That is how autofocus works best.
Set your camera to show you just one small square in the center of the viewfinder. Place that square over an area you want to be sharp and then press the focus button. It helps to also have your camera set for Back Button Focus. I highly recommend using ONLY Back Button Focus for all shots. I never use the shutter button to focus. If you are not familiar with the concept of Back Button Focus, do a Google search for more info. Consult your owner's manual for information on how to set the viewfinder to show you just one square in the middle.
For this shot, focusing on one of the dark lines against the yellow color works best to assure a sharp image.
Shutter Speed 1/1600 sec. Aperture f/5.6. ISO 400. Lens: Canon 400mm f/5.6L. Camera: Canon 40D. Handheld.
TODAY'S QUOTE: "I only ask to be free. The butterflies are free." - Charles Dickens