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Top Tips For Photographing Butterflies

Summer's here and it's the perfect time to get outside and photograph some butterflies.

| Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD in Animals / Wildlife
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Top Tips For Photographing Butterflies: David Pritchard Butterfly Image by David Pritchard taken with the Tamron 70-200mm lens

Summer has finally reached the UK and the coming months are the perfect time to have a go at photographing one of our most loved flying insects - the beautiful butterfly. Here are some top tips for photographing them with Tamron kit. 

Do your research

If you're into nature photography already you'll know that there are many different species in the UK, all with preferred habitats and plants. A quick google search should bring up the butterfly species that are native around where you live and this will allow you to have a better idea of where to look for them and which plants they're likely to frequent. If you're not fussy about the species you photograph, head for your closest Buddleia bush, which is nicknamed the butterfly bush. It's found in gardens but can also grow wild so have a scout about and see if you can track one down. 


Choose the right lens

A mid-telephoto lens such as the SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro VC USD will be great for this subject as it's a prime lens for added sharpness and has good reach without being too bulky to carry around. The 90mm macro also has a wide f/2.8 maximum aperture allowing you to achieve nice blurred backgrounds to keep the focus solely on the subject.


Think about the time of day

Butterflies are cold-blooded and as such need to warm up before they become really active during the day. Because of this you might find it easier to photograph them in the early morning or late afternoon as they will be cooler and moving around less. It's still possible to photograph butterflies in the middle of the day but you'll find them more quick to fly off and generally moving around more, meaning you'll need to use fast shutter speeds. 


Use faster shutter speeds

As butterflies can choose to fly off at any second, using a fast shutter speed will help to ensure that you capture the butterfly before the movement of the wings causes your shot to blur. If you're shooting at a wider aperture to blur the background this will help in achieving a balanced exposure with a faster shutter speed. Trial and error will help you to determine what shutter speed works best for you using various apertures. 


Take your tripod and set up the shot

sometimes rather than scouting around looking for butterflies it cam be a better use of your time to set up at a prime spot and wait for the butterflies to come into view. If you don't have a tripod or it's not viable to use one, simply waiting in an ideal spot with your camera poised will work just as well. The chances are that if you pick a good blooming flower that the butterflies like, one will land right in front of you sooner rather than later, saving you chasing all over the garden after them.  


Consider your backgrounds

It can be difficult when working amongst busy foliage areas, but it will work in your favour if you can find a background that's relatively plain. For butterflies, a background that's all green, for example leaves, will compliment both the colours of the butterfly and the flower it sits on nicely without clashing or competing for the viewer's attention.  

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