Since I purchased a life time membership for Butterfly Wonderland, I go pretty frequently. This time, once again, I refined my technique a little more.
The “No Tripods” rule makes shooting here really challenging. Yes, me, Mr. Anti-Tripod is griping about that. You are allowed monopods though, which can help a lot. I do feel having image stabilization on my Macro Lens helps , big time. I was also armed with my super high tech (aka, cheap) flash.
I was asked by another person taking photos about my technique, so why not blog about it, since no one reads my blog.
As I see it, there are two ways to take photos of Butterflies.
- Macro Lens – Gives you Depth of Field problems.
- Telephoto Lens – More difficult to use a flash since you’re further away from the subject. Since I don’t own a worthy telephoto lens, this option wasn’t available. I do feel the distance problem could be solved by having an assistant hold the flash close to the subject and use a remote trigger.
- Camera: Canon 70D
- Flash: Yongnuo Speedlite YN560 IV
- Lens: Canon 100 mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
- MeFOTO Backpack Tripod, but in the Monopod Configuration, sometimes.
My “Basic” camera settings for shooting the butterflies was:
- Manuel Mode
- Aperture: f/11 – f/16
- Shutter Speed: 1/100th – 1/160th
- ISO: 100
- White Balance : Flash (Insignificant if you shoot RAW)
- All over the settings with this. Usually about ½ – ¼ power.
Depth of Field (DoF) is the main challenge shooting these critters. I wanted to get close enough so my flash could pop their colors, which means my DoF is going to be really small. I have started pulling back some, shooting wide, and cropping the photo post processing. This helps a little with the DoF problem.
Hand jiggle is another problem. Many of my photos were blown by hand jiggle after the autofocus locked in. Of course, real macro photographers would be telling me to manual focus all the time, and use a tripod, but hey, I am lazy and tripods aren’t allowed. My technique around this, take TONS of photos. On occasions I’ll use the monopod, but at times it just isn’t practical much of time in the pavilion.
Thinking about it on my ride home, next time I go there, I am going to try setting the camera into AI Servo for the focus mode. Typically I use One Shot. This might help with the hand shake problem, and yes, use my mono pod more.