What Am I Shooting For?

Northern Pearly Eye Butterfly, photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania

I smile when I look back on those first what?, 10 years of photographing butterflies. Film was cheaper then, Fuji Velvia slide film. Processing the exposed film was less expensive, and scanning too didn’t break your budget. I went out on a typical morning, and returned home with 10 or more rolls shot. I just about chased and photographed any butterfly that I found.

Nowadays, things have changed. My film is very expensive, processing and scanning the slides has also become more expensive. I have also changed. I no longer follow or stalk butterflies that are worn or bird-struck. When I see a spectacular Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (female) or an OMGoodness! Question Mark, I pause, gather my thoughts, and move on. My sizable collection of slides happily includes excellent images of same. Once in a while, I wonder what will happen to that collection, that includes many rare and declining species?

I’ve also given up on waiting for the Butterfly cognoscenti (how do I explain that to y’all?) to come along and visit. As on the streets of Brooklyn, back with ‘them,’ no names. That puzzle awaits I don’t know what.

What, then am I shooting for?

I’m now near ready to share that. I continue with the same energy and anticipation this 2019 . . . for us. For me and for you. I want to find and capture on film the finest, freshest butterflies. They must be of excellent color and form, male and female, if we can determine such.The color of my work must be exactly as it looks in the field, real-time. Film continues to be used worldwide because the color it delivers accurately reveals true field color. More than 25 years in the field confirms that. I shoot rolls of 36-exposures, and cull those slides out, usually keeping 2 or 3 per roll, at the most.

Once Katie Funaki has scanned them, I want you there, and me here, to pause for a sec, and whisper, “Wow!” Then, me? I hope you think G-d has really created boundless beauty.

This Northern Pearly-eye Butterfly met me at Raccoon Creek State Park, in southwestern Pennsylvania, USA. That about 380 miles west of where Benjamin Franklin printed his newspapers.

Jeff

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