A couple of weeks ago we visited Delray Beach in Southeast Florida. My family from Germany was visiting and we joined them for a week at the beautiful Parliament Inn. We had a wonderful time and it was great catching up on things and just hanging out together. While everyone decided to take a speed boat ride in Miami I decided to opt for a photo trip to the nearby Butterfly World in Coconut Creek. The butterfly garden was an amazing experience; what a great place to escape to with a camera. To see butterflies of every type and color flattering around the beautiful aviary was simply a joy. I spent about 3 hours pursuing macro photography. I first started out using my macro lens but ran into limitations of composing images and creating frame filling butterfly photos since the butterflies took off when I got too close. The 70-200mm lens came in handier and adding a 1.4x teleconverter made it a more pleasant photo experience at up to 420 mm focal length. In order to compensate for the longer lens and its slower shutter speeds adjusting the ISO setting to 200 was a must. A large aperture setting (small f/stop) not only supported faster shutter speeds but also created a shallower Depth of Field which is mostly desired when photographing wildlife, birds or bugs. Unfortunately Butterfly World does not allow the use of tripods or monopods. Kathy, a knowledgeable and most friendly worker at Butterfly World, pointed out to me that the watering system is very delicate and in earlier years when photographers were allowed to bring in tripods they broke a lot of water system piping by setting up tripods behind the railing. Hence, tripods and monopods were forbidden at one point.
In the first butterfly picture the Birdwing Butterfly was beautifully hanging off a little shrub branch. Isolating and composing the subject on the branch against a calming background was my highest priority. I therefore placed the butterfly in front of another bush that was probably 3 or 4 yards away and set a large aperture (small f-stop) of f/4.0 to obtain a sharp image of the butterfly with the calming backdrop in blur. An exposure time of 1/200 sec barely allowed me to hand-hold the camera. The second butterfly image shows a photo of a Madiera Butterfly sipping the sweet nectar of life. Aperture was f/4.5 at ISo200 resulting in an exposure time of 1/100 sec. The second butterfly photos was purposely underexposed by 1/3 of a stop to boost and saturate colors. Dust spot removal, minimal contrast, lighting and color saturation adjustments were made during post processing before sharpening the final images of the Butterflies.
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