Capturing Butterflies On Camera

Painted

The once popular hobby of butterfly collecting is now frowned upon. The rapid decline of many butterfly species at the end of the 20th century took all the fun out of capturing, killing and pinning these beautiful but now endangered creatures.

Luckily for those who still crave the thrill of tracking down butterflies in the wild and bringing a souvenir home to admire, the advent of digital photography has filled the niche. The modern butterfly hunter’s aspiration is an online image library featuring each of the UK’s 59 native butterflies.

With so much equipment on the market and a broad range of prices, butterfly photography is a relatively easy pastime to take up but it does require a certain level of skill to master.

Butterflies are not the easiest of subjects due to their flighty nature. The key to capturing the right specimen is to do your research. Find out about butterfly habitat, flight-times, food plants and behaviour. The A to Z of butterflies on this website is a great place to start.

Once you’ve tracked your subject down it’s time to consider the composition of your shot. Think about light, background and colour. Your confidence to be more creative will grow with experience and knowledge of how your camera equipment works.

Get clicking!

If you focus your macro on a butterfly this month you could snap up a trip to Rhodes.

PackhamButterfly Conservation's Vice President and keen wildlife photographer, Chris Packham, is judging Belvoir Fruit Farm’s photo competition. The theme is ‘wildlife with wings’ and star prize is a wildlife-watching trip for two on the island of Rhodes with Greenwings Wildlife Holidays.

Here are Chris’ top five tips for taking the prize-winning shot…

Don't worry about how big, flash or expensive your camera is. Cameras do not take pictures - people do! You could take a brilliant photo on a mobile phone if you were in a better place than a professional with mega-bucks of gear.

Don’t be overly worried about your pictures being technically perfect. It’s the content that really counts not how pin sharp or critically exposed the image is. Obviously there are limits!

Composition is nine tenths of your picture’s beauty. Make it all balance in your frame - so it’s simply nice to look at - and be careful with distracting things in the background.

Don’t be lazy - if you are lucky to be in the right place at the right time and you can see a great opportunity in front of you don’t just snap away. Look for the best angle, wait for the best moment, use your luck to try something new.

Take loads of pictures. The moment will only happen once, there is no rehearsal, no second chance and in the digital age it costs nothing to blast off lots of frames. And don’t spend time reviewing and deleting ‘in the field’, concentrate on taking pictures. You can do all the rest when it’s all over and you’re at home having a cup of tea or coffee!

Get more photography tips from Chris Packham and enter the competition.