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Archive for Sunday, September 21, 2003

Busy-body painted ladies a precarious target

September 21, 2003

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Photographer: Mike Yoder

Camera: D1H Nikon digital camera

Two painted-lady butterflies gather nectar from some perennial
verbena on Kansas University's west campus near Foley Hall. Orley
"Chip" Taylor, director of the Monarch Watch program and a
professor of biological sciences at KU, considers this year's
painted-lady migration the best he's seen since the late 1970s.

Two painted-lady butterflies gather nectar from some perennial verbena on Kansas University's west campus near Foley Hall. Orley "Chip" Taylor, director of the Monarch Watch program and a professor of biological sciences at KU, considers this year's painted-lady migration the best he's seen since the late 1970s.

Lens: Zoom lens with teleconverter at 360 mm

ISO: 250

Shutter: 1/250th

Aperture: F9.5

A recent migration of painted lady butterflies provided an opportunity to spend a short time enjoying nature up close.

Knowing where to go to find the butterflies was half the work, and Orley "Chip" Taylor, a professor of biological sciences at Kansas University, kindly pointed out several bushes near a west campus building full of the colorful insects. Realizing that I would need tight shots of the small butterflies but would not want to interfere with their activity, I added a teleconverter to my longest zoom lens. This increased the lens power by another 50 percent and created a lens of approximately 400mm. After focusing in a couple of times on some of the nectar-gathering insects, I realized the difficulty in staying framed on the hyper critters.

It seemed that at best they only spent 10 to 15 seconds on one bloom before taking a spastic flight that was difficult to follow. In addition, while they were attached to the blossoms, the wind whipped the plants in every direction, making it that much more difficult to stay focused on the subject.

I decided to move to an area of good lighting, and with my camera away from my eye, I watched and waited for a butterfly to land nearby. As luck would have it, I soon spotted one that landed in my area. By quickly changing from a horizontal to a vertical framing and adjusting my aperture for a little more depth of field, I was also able to include a second butterfly in the background.




-- "Behind the Lens" is an ongoing weekly series that features an image selected by the Journal-World photo staff that previously ran in the newspaper or online. Wondering how a certain picture was created? Nominate it for "Behind the Lens" by contacting chief photographer Mike Yoder at 832-7141 or myoder@ljworld.com.

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