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Free flight

By OlwenB    
I was trying to get a shot of these two butterflies. Has anyone got any tips how I could have made this a better shot. My camera has a tracker but it seems that I can only use it in Auto. This was AV f6.3. : focal length 84.8mm (493mm if shot in 35mm film).

I'm very grateful for your advice.

Tags: Wildlife and nature

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22 May 2015 12:31PM
Love the idea here, and to see two Brimstones dancing together.....wonderful. Just an idea, crank your ISO up high, maybe to 3200? And use 'burst' mode so that you get several pics in rapid succession. Just ideas.....a very hard shot to capture, the yellow against the blue sky is lovely!

Dave Wink
pamelajean Plus
15 1.6k 2237 United Kingdom
22 May 2015 5:35PM
What you are basically asking about is how to get a sharp shot of a moving subject, Olwen.

Dave has suggested Burst Mode, and I have looked it up, and your camera does have that option.
Switching to burst mode/continuous shooting/multi-shooting will increase your chances of capturing a sharp shot as your camera will rapidly take a series of shots. While it might not be possible to predict exactly what a butterfly will do, itís important to use the continuous shooting mode to get as many photos as possible and review what you have later.

Alternatively, you can set the mode dial to TV (Shutter-Priority) mode and choose a fast shutter speed of 1/250s or faster. Pre-focus to an area where you can predict the butterfly will fly into and be ready to snap. Obviously, your focus needs to be on at least one of the butterflies. Use a single focus point for this.

And, yes, Dave also mentioned increasing your ISO in order to attain a faster shutter speed.

Like a lot of techniques (and this isn't an easy one), practice makes perfect. Go out and look for anything that moves, then get your technique worked out.

HERE is a link to the portfolio of someone on EPZ who has some lovely natural butterfly shots, and a lot of tthe butterflies are quite small in the frame because he uses the environment to be part of the frame. Take a look at some of his camera settings, shutter speeds and ISO settings.

OlwenB 6 United Kingdom
22 May 2015 9:01PM
Hi Dave, Thank you so much for your advice and also the complement about the yellow against the blue sky. I will definitely do what you said and increase the ISO and put the camera on "burst" mode.

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out. Grin

Best wishes
OlwenB 6 United Kingdom
22 May 2015 10:15PM
Hi Pamela, Thank you so much for your advice. I am going to try the TV mode and use the higher shutter speed and ISO. I got my manual out and have adjusted the settings as you suggested. I'm on a whole new learning curve.Blush I also checked out the link you gave me ... the photos are amazing. With my little camera I don't think I can produce such fantastic results, but I'm certainly going to try and make sure that the technique is right.

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me, I so appreciate it. Now to get out there and practice. Grin

Best wishes,
dudler Plus
18 1.7k 1876 England
22 May 2015 10:53PM
Welcome to the Critique Gallery, Olwen.

And thank you for such a focussed question: it's brought you two good answers very rapidly!

Yes, it's challenging to use a bridge camera for demanding ideas - but you can definitely learn to get the very best out of it, and do really good stuff. Then, if the bug has really bitten, consider buying more expensive gear. Otherwise, stick to a modest but capable camera, and have fun (while producing rather lovely results, like this!)
dark_lord Plus
17 2.8k 784 England
24 May 2015 8:28PM
This has a lovely pictorial quality helped by the movement blur. In many ways I prefer that but would like to see the blur in (just) the wings. The yellow against blue is a great colour contrast too.
Normally it'd be a sharp shot and we'd reccommend reducing the shutter speed for some movement to show! Both approaches are valid.

Whatever you do, a central placement is rarely best. However, john's square crop does look good, so that's another option. Having the butterflies off centre gives a better balanced look.

OlwenB 6 United Kingdom
31 May 2015 7:29PM
Hi Dudler,

Thank you so much for your encouragement. I will keep at it and hope to keep improving. It's a great little camera and easy to carry around, plus the zoom is wonderful. However as you mentioned it cannot do the work of a DSLR. Not that it puts me off ... I love a challenge!! Maybe sometime in the future I can look at getting more expensive gear. Grin

Best wishes,
OlwenB 6 United Kingdom
31 May 2015 7:36PM
Hi Keith,

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. The sharp body and slight blur on the wings is what I was hoping for and will try and practice altering the settings to try and achieve this. I think cropping to fit with the magic thirds would have been a good move to make it more pleasing visually. The one big thing in its favor (I think) ..... the yellow against the brilliant blue sky!!

Best wishes,
OlwenB 6 United Kingdom
31 May 2015 7:48PM
Hi John,

I have only just seen the square crop photo. Yes that really does 'pop'. That was a great idea to add some colour to the burnt out wing of the second butterfly. I am currently trying to learn how to use Photoshop Elements 13 and I think I will be able to do that eventually.

Thank you so much for taking the time and the trouble to show me how to improve this shot. Your help is much appreciated.


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