Schooled By Little Metalmarks

Little Metalmark butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Shellman Bluff, GA

There they were, finally. Little Metalmark Butterflies. Shellman Bluff, Georgia, along the eastern coast of the USA. Months of anticipation, and there I was with Nancy and John. I should have expected them to be tiny, but truth be told, I was taken aback, for they were smaller than tiny. They were tinier than tiny.

They were methodically nectaring on tiny yellow blooms, and they all but posed, as they slowly worked the flowers, one after another.

I’ll admit to a bit of personal bravado, me thinking that I will leave there with several excellent exposures of these flying gems. I especially wanted to capture images with those silvery hindwing bands, smartly reflecting the strong Georgia sun.

And? Well I’ve studied and restudied the 6 or so exposures that I didn’t pitch into the trash. This one, for instance does Pop! those silvery bands, features other decent Little Metalmark shares (one good antenna, an OK abdomen and a decent eye capture).

17% overconfident Jeff, got schooled by those Metalmarks. Why?

They were so tiny that they required that I crouch over in a very uncomfortable position, that awkward twist of body became increasingly difficult to sustain. They did move across the flower, forcing frequent movement and camera adjustment, then they would fly some 2-3 feet to another flower, sending me following them, into yet another and another pronounced crouch. Soon the sweat begin beading up on my forehead and then, sweat would trickle down over eyes, the Georgia morning humidity soon semi-blinding me, salt in the eyes.

This was before I upgraded to my Canon 100mm/2.8 IS (Image Stabilization) lens. IS lenses compensate for the almost imperceptible sway that moves the camera lens when you shoot such tinies in such challenging shoots.

So, yes, those Little Metalmarks schooled me, learned me good, to not come into the field fully expecting to land the big one, so to speak. Beware specks of butterflies on minuscule flowers, on steamy hot mornings , for the odds of copping a dropdead gorgeous image of the bejeweled Little Metalmark favor Las Vegas, and not the boy from Brooklyn!

Jeff

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