Go For the Eyes . . . .

American Copper Butterfly photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek State Park. Jeff blogs about the art and science of butterflies at http://www.wingedbeauty.com
What’s getting better each year? Well, the easy availability of gluten-free foods, the useful gadgets in new cars, and most importantly here, the real increase in the number of butterfly images that are being shared. Shared here in the U.S. and shared across the globe.

It’s very difficult to photograph butterflies. They are usually very wary and apprehensive. Most people go look for them after noontime, and that’s when most butterflies refuse to allow us to approach them. We’re another threat, added to the long list of threatening fliers, crawlers, slitherers, jumpers and so on. That exponentially increases the difficulty of scoring great photographs of butterflies.

There are some out there who must use certain gimmicks to capture their images. I’m out there alot, and I still can’t get my butterflies to pose on the top of a flower, with head held high, and wings perfectly positioned for the camera lens. Tricks can make that possible. Not for me.

The eyes. I work to capture better images of butterflies’ eyes. Many years ago, I read alot about this, and agree that a good image will feature good to better view of the eyes of your butterfly subject. This is tough to do, and forces us to not use many exposures (many, many exposures).

Keeping this discussion short, consider that all images of dogs, birds, horses, snakes, turtles, cattle, and cats come with good eyes. That is expected and required, for acceptance.

This American Copper Butterfly, perched on hawkweed, met my own threshold requirement for passable eye clarity.

I shoot macro- and that comes with a very limited depth of field. Good eyes, good wings, good body (head-thorax-abdomen), good antennae, good legs, good proboscis and also good eyes? Well, I say Yes. That is The challenge.


PS. If you’re interested in the technique that I’ve developed over time, check out the step-by-step section of the blog.

Counting the Weeks

Nichol Field photographed by Jeff Zablow at Raccoon Creek Park, PA, 7/06
On April 27th, just days ago, I visited this same field at Raccoon Creek State Park, in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Spring growth had not accelerated yet, and almost the entire 100 +/- acres were covered with 3” tall plant stubble. Evidence of planned field husbandry could be seen here and there, most easily noticed were areas of controlled burn.

We are looking at a section of the field during the first week of July. Fast forwarding to that time in this place, how much fun it is to be greeted by American Coppers, Orange Sulphurs, Tiger Swallowtails, Duskywings, Silver-spotted Skippers, Spicebush Swallowtails, while at the same time enjoying the silent company of Apis Mellifera and Bombus Pensylvanicus (honeybees and bumblebees). Unexpected overflights of a larger Darner simulated our pride and sense of well-being when we are lucky enough to spot a US Air Force jet flying near the horizon. Would you look at that, a Monarch!

Adding to the warmth of the day, time and place would be spotting another naturalist headed my way, and could it be? Yes! It’s…………You!

NB, I’ve received my Fuji film, back-up Canon camera, and the first of what I hope are, several airplane tickets. Good to go.


American Copper Butterfly

American Copper Butterfly at Raccoon Creek State Park

Eye candy. Our American Copper butterfly is perched on Orange Hawkweed (Hieracium aurantiacum) in the late morning at Raccoon Creek State Park in western Pennsylvania.

Awash with oranges and yellow, this image soothes, as watching a well organized fish tank soothes.

America has been so accepting of countless immigrants and both the butterfly and the wildflower may have been introduced centuries ago.

Examine our other posts of American Coppers (Lycaena phlaes). There is something about them that evokes such pleasant, calming, and positive thought.


American Copper Butterfly

American copper butterfly photographed at Raccoon Creek State Park, PA

It’s 26 degrees Farenheit outside now. I just returned from a very, very sad place…. A new Post, that’s what I’ll do until my next errand…. Oh, this morning we participated in an ‘informal assessment appeal’ to try to lower the abrupt, spiked (very spiked) increase in the 2012 real estate assessment on this house. This PM visit to that sad place, snow covered with deer tracks here and there…and the plow coming along during my short stay (they agreed to come around again in 15, which was thoughtful)…

So…why this American Copper post? Well look at it. Tiny as it is, it is so …. (do I use the word beautiful too much?) beautiful. Months will have to track by before these little Coppers will be bounding from flowerhead to flowerhead again, but what a treat to look forward to!

Most of us have days like this, happily all of us can hope to look forward to the time real soon when we can watch such little pookies springing from here to there…happily.

Please remind me to update this Post when winter ends…