Back Modifications (4)
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Sea Shell or Butterfly?

By TeejayQ
Taken during a photo shoot to Stratford-Upon-Avon Butterfly Farm, with the Midlands Photography Group UK

Tags: Pets and captive animals Butterfly farm


banehawi Plus
15 2.2k 4084 Canada
7 Mar 2018 3:44PM
Hi Terry. You've been on the site for quite a while, and unless you cleaned off your portfolio, this may be your first upload?

You've asked for critique, so here goes.

Overall, not a bad image, and from a very nice little camera too. Its the OLY Stylus 1S for those reviewing after me. Exposure is quite good, as is the colour balance.

Theres some tips Ive added in a diagram in the modifications. Its shows that to shoot a butterfly, or other insect side-on, you need to try to get as parallel, both horizontally and vertically as possible to have the best chance of getting the insect all in focus and sharp.

You were at an angle here, so the head as an example isnt sharp and a small area of the wing is; this is a combination of not being parallel, and using a wide aperture of f/2.8. The camera was in auto mode I believe, and if you has been in Aperture priority, you could have selected an aperture that would give you more depth, like f/8. The downside could be a higher ISO, BUT you could use a lower ISO than whats used here IF you used a shorter focal length. This is shaot at the maximum zoom of 300mm, - and the longer the focal length, the shallower the depth of field, - so theres a benefit to getting physically closer, less zoom, and more depth.

I have sharpened, selectively, the mods so as not to increase noise, - which is quite good at this ISO also.

Hope all this helps. One of the mods is rotated, - same image but just looks a lot different.



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pamelajean Plus
14 1.3k 2106 United Kingdom
7 Mar 2018 6:54PM
Hello, Terry, and welcome to the Critique Gallery.

This is a beautiful subject and although the angle of your capture is unusual, it doesn't feel comfortable like that, so I have done the same as Willie for my modification, and rotated it, but I also mirrored the image so that the butterfly is looking towards the right.
See how you feel generally about that. Left or right? The reasoning is that we read from left to right, and we also tend to look at an image from left to right.
Also, there is a guideline about negative space, and an image tends to be more pleasing and more balanced if we leave less space behind our subject and more space ahead of it. I have done this, too.
If you forget to do this when composing your shot, you can always crop later.
At the time of shooting, if you do happen to want the butterfly at a different angle, just turn your camera around, but if that's too awkward, you can rotate it later.

You have good light and detail on the butterfly, showing all of its attractive markings, but it's just a little soft, so I have sharpened it in my modification. I also softened the background because there is quite a bit of noise/grain showing there.

I wonder if you were getting instruction from your group, or just being left alone with the butterflies? I'm glad you didn't use flash, your exposure looks ok. But a smaller aperture/higher f-number would have been safer, in order to give you a larger depth of field and more in focus. It's a shame to get home and wish you had used different camera settings.
I hope you took lots more butterfly shots.


paulbroad 12 131 1288 United Kingdom
7 Mar 2018 7:42PM
This is actually better than many macro shots we see but anyone serious about macro will not be at such high ISO or such a wide aperture. You get away with the f2.8 as the butterfly is side on but the quality is beginning to show the high ISO.

Ideally f8 to f16 or smaller with a macro lens,and the lowest ISO possible. That is why so many macro photographers use flash, especially in lower light situations. Of course, even then it is best to use an external flash with diffusion and, best, a dedicated macro flash unit.

Having said all that, it is pretty good as I initially indicated.

dark_lord Plus
15 2.4k 621 England
7 Mar 2018 9:31PM
I can understand using a wide aperture if the light is low in the butterfly house, but they're not fast moving subjects and as you were with a group I'd have thought tripods would be ok (unless you went as a group during normal opening and other members of the public were being admittd) so you could use lower ISOs and smaller apertures. Alternatively, a monopod could be enough to aid stability.

Willies suggestion about having the camera parallel to the subject will help enormously in geting good sharpness over the whole of the insect, especially important if you can only safely use say f/5.6.
Of course, position is important for a decent unobtrusive and natural looking background, so it's worth spending a little time to consider that and find the best position.

Your result is acceptable, but with a few tweaks to your capture technique canbe very good.
But as Paul says, better than many shots that get posted here.
dudler Plus
16 1.0k 1575 England
7 Mar 2018 10:02PM
And welcome from me, too.

Plus side - it's worked really rather well - attractive and descriptive.

Minus side - technical settings aren't ideal. The one that worries me is Program mode: for photographs rather than snaps, you need to take control, and yo uare far more aware of this in Aperture priority, knowing you have to adjust the aperture to suit the result you want, and keep an eye on the shutter speed.

So my suggestion is to take control and use Aperture priority for most of yoru shots - if this is challenging, then it is pretty certainly the route to improving...
8 Mar 2018 8:13AM
Thank you all very much indeed for your constructive criticism! Here's a little more information that may or may not see my image in a better light! Excuse the pun! This and other butterfly photos, I've yet to upload were taken in a confined space, with lot's of people and children present. I couldn't get any closer to the subject, and the reason for choosing "P" mode over aperture or shutter priority was the need to be quick taking my shots because of the afore mentioned obstacles! However you have all given me food for thought, and I thank you all again for your help. Smile
dark_lord Plus
15 2.4k 621 England
8 Mar 2018 7:44PM
Thanks for that information Terry, it all helps to put things into perspective.
Battling with crowds isn't easy or nice, though I have ot say that when a viewer looks at the end result the hardships encountered are rarely considered.

I can see your reasoning for P mode.
However, getting really familiar with your camera and its settings and operation means that for example Aperture Priority is just as quick to use and gives you greater control over the final image.

if you can get imags like this using P mode, that's great (it would pick up votes in the main Gallery), and I look forward to more work from you.

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