It’s the perfect time of year to photograph butterflies and dragonflies. The flowers they love: the crocsmia, the orange day lily, hydrangea and the butterfly plant are still in bloom. This year, I’ve seen as many as four or five Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in the air around me at one time, and it’s an enchanting sight.
I love photographing both of these winged creatures for a number of reasons. Foremost, because they are beautiful, especially when they settle against a backdrop of blossom or flora. Using a telephoto lens, I’m able to capture beautiful bokeh, soft light filtering through the greens of the surrounding, and there’s a poetic quality about the results.
I also like the challenges they present. One of my first blog posts dealt with photographing dragonflies. The dragonfly’s flight is especially hard to predict, and certain types settle less frequently than others. Finding a dragonfly in a telephoto lens and focusing and framing before they move again can be hard enough, but catching them in motion is even more difficult.
During past years, there have been mainly Blue-eyed Darners or Red Dragonflies about. This year I haven’t seen many of those, but instead have seen a white and black or white and brown variety. I ran to get my camera after seen a large black and white dragonfly settle on a grass blade. As I was inching closer I realized I hadn’t seen my dog for five minutes or so. She has a habit of using my concentration on anything but her to make a dash to the neighbors to harass their cats. I called her, without thinking, and of course when she cam running the dragonfly was disturbed.
For days I was on hunt for that dragonfly. While I haven’t seen as big a specimen; I have caught a couple of ones that are similar – an eight-spotted skimmer and I think a Common Whitetail (female has a brown body). I’m not sure (based on my google research). The one above was transparent with brown spots, while the eight spotted skimmer has white on its wings. The one below landed on a guest’s car antennae, so I added flora and texture layers for effect.
Another thing I like about both butterflies and dragonflies is that there always seems something mystical about them. The fact that each starts life in a form perceived as rudimentary and then evolves into something that is not only beautiful, but fleeting, elusive and can fly reminds us of the transformational possibilities and transitory nature of life.
Here are a few of my other recent butterfly photographs. Thank you for looking.