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    • Denise Goldberg

      It's been cold outside here in the northeast and the colors are long gone. I'm happy when there are flowers in the garden asking to pose for me, and I'm happy when the trees are wearing their autumn finery. I enjoy the change of seasons but feel a longing for warmth and color as winter approaches.

      I started in the world of photography with a focus on landscapes. That's still a passion but I've added to that by feeding my fascination with color and intricate shapes by focusing on flowers and butterflies.

      On Friday I gave in to my need for color with a visit to the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory in S. Deerfield, MA. It's just over 90 miles from home on a mixture of highway and smaller roads. The drive takes just under two hours which means it gets only occasional visits. I think I need to increase the frequency of my visits.

      During the summer I follow butterflies in a local garden. During the cold months, I drive to visit the butterfly's warm inside environment at Magic Wings.

      This beautiful creature posed for me in the warm days of summer in a garden close to home.

      All of the photos I've posted in this thread were taken with a Fuji X-T2. Lens for this one was the Fuji XF55-200mm.

    • Denise Goldberg

      I started my visit to the butterfly conservatory by standing still, watching the butterflies floating through the air, lighting on flowers and feeders, flying, occasionally landing on me.

      I walked through the space, stopping to chat with some of the people who work at the conservatory, stopping more to watch the butterlies and try to capture them with my camera.

      I haven't been too lucky with butterflies in motion. This beautifully colored creature never stopped moving!

      Out-of-focus motion captured with Fuji XF55-200mm lens.

    • Denise Goldberg

      The subtle green and brown of the Malachite butterfly always draws my eye.

      Lens: Fuji XF80mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      I usually need to look more than once at the Kallima inachus, also known as the dead leaf butterfly. They really do look like leaves. This one was kind enough to perch on green leaves, standing out by color contrasts. There were some areas of the conservatory where they were perched on plants that came close to their color - in those areas the butterflies were harder to see!

      I was lucky to see one fluttering its wings. The top side of the wings wear a broad band of bright orange, who knew!

      Lens: Fuji XF80mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      I've always loved the bright colors of the Cairns birdwing butterfly.

      Lens: Fuji XF80mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      Owl butterflies are known for their huge eyespots!

      Lens: Fuji XF55-200mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      The glasswing butterfly wears the proper name of Greta oto.

      Lens: Fuji XF55-200mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      Unfortunately I only know names for some of the butterflies that consented to pose for me.

      It seems like I should know the name of this one - I need to remember to ask the next time that I visit the butterfly conservatory.

      Lens: Fuji XF80mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      I'm amazed at the intricate design on this butterfly's wings.

      Sorry, I couldn't convince it to move out from the leaves for a proper portrait!

      Lens: Fuji XF55-200mm

    • Denise Goldberg

      This butterfly was attracted to the flowers of an Ohia tree.

      Lens: Fuji XF55-200mm

    • Oh my gosh, Denise, what a feast for the eyes. I like to add to conversations like these but I'm afraid of defiling it with the mediocre butterfly shots I have made. I looked at some of mine and not even close. They are bloody hard to shoot.

      Here's a Costa Rican butterfly:

    • Denise Goldberg

      Thank you Chris! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who finds them hard to shoot! It's a good challenge though, one I'm happy to repeat as often as I can find butterflies! I've found that your angle relative to the position of the butterfly and your focus point is very important. And of course whether they are willing to sit still for a bit!

      I started my visit using a 55-200mm lens but switched pretty quickly to using my 80mm macro lens. I'll go back through the posts and note which lens I used!

    • Great set of images, Denise. The photographer in me would love to know just a bit more about the tools you used to capture these images. Macro lenses or long lenses, camera bodies, flash or not, reflectors or not, tripods or not, just to help me understand your approach to capturing these lovely creatures, Butterlfiies in flight are quite challenging to me but I keep trying. On of the images I really want is when two butterflies are tumbling together in the air but that has not been easy or even possible for me yet.

      My wife has had a garden, around our entire back yard, devoted to flowers for hummingbirds and butterflies for over twenty years. I used to photograph lots of butterflies every summer and fall, but over the last 2-4 years the number of butterflies has dropped off pretty dramatically - not sure why, since it seems to have affected many different species. I did see a few Monarchs and a few swllowtails this year, but nothing like a decade ago. SO we planted some milkweed plants and raised some of our own monarch caterpillars successfully.

      There is a butterfly exhibit at the White River Gardens at the Indianapolis Zoo, but I don't get there often enough either, as it is 90 miles from home and gets crowded at times. Life gets in the way sometimes.

      Chris, is that a Monarch you posted from Costa Rica?

      Here are a couple frames of monarchs from my yard shot in 2006. - captured in RAW back in the dinosaur days of digital cameras, but rendered in Lightroom today. These were caught with a Tamron 180mm f3.5 macro lens and a 1DsMk II with some degree of fill flash since the metadata tells me flash was fired when I shot these 12 years ago.

    • Denise Goldberg

      Thank you!

      I prefer the second of the shots that you posted but I think that is because I tend to prefer backgrounds that are not black.

      The shots I posted were all hand-held. The butterfly conservatory does not allow use of monopods or tripods, and my preference is hand-held anyway. The butterflies move so fast that not being tied to a support feels better to me.

      I used a Fuji X-T2 camera, no flash. Just camera and lens.

      I've added the lens I used to each of the shots to the end of each post. I started with the Fuji 55-200mm lens then switched to the Fuji 80mm macro. There were challenges with both - the focus distance on the 55-200 didn't always work in the space, yet it was helpful when I was after butterflies that were further away. The 80mm macro is superb for close-up work.

      I would love to capture butterflies in flight but that is still beyond my skill set! I also keep trying.

      While I don't have a garden at home, I do volunteer at a garden about a mile and a half from here. In addition to helping I spend a lot of time there with my camera. The first photo I posted was from that garden; that's my close-to-home go-to spot for butterflies. Of course that is strictly a summer activity.

      The Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory is 90 miles from home. It also gets quite crowded but I have found it to be reasonable when I go during the week and try to arrive just as they are opening. My visit last week was quiet to start then very noisy as a school group was visiting. One of the staff told me I could call ahead to see if any groups are scheduled. As it was I had enough quiet time before they showed up and I was fascinated to see the different reactions of the children. Some were fascinated with the butterflies, standing still with a hand out in the hopes of having a butterfly land on them. Others were frightened. The conservatory gave those who were frightened a piece of nylon to drape over their heads to prevent the butterflies from landing directly on their hair or skin.

    • The photos are just stunning and I love to hear the process of capturing them. Butterflies are such delicate, beautiful creatures and I feel that same sense of peace being around them and observing them closely. Thanks for sharing!

    • Denise, I don't usually favor black backgrounds either, but they may, sometimes, be better than the actual background at the time - I was actually practising shooting flash with a macro lens to deliberately drive the background to black for that image. I have lots of other images with more natural backgrounds too - a tiger swallowtail on a butterfly bush

    • Wow, what an image! You're going to inspire me to dig into the butterfly shots I never processed from Six Flags. The thing is their butterfly habitat is humid so you walk in and your gear fogs. How do you handle that? By the time I was defogged, the kids were yelling at me that they were done with butterflies, LET'S GO DO THE RIDES!!

    • What a great shot of kids in a bright yellow seat having a great time!! Great gesture and color.

      Chris, the high warm humidity of butterfly habitats can be challenging, especially if you come in from a much cooler, drier environment. I did this in upper Michigan years ago, and promptly not only fogged the front element of my lens but my viewfinder and that didn't clear until I left the habitat and got a nice fan to blow dry air across my optics. I made the mistake of getting back inside my truck after being out in deep cold in Bosque and exhaling near the front lens of my 500mm F4 and promptly coated its front element with a thick layer of frost - that has to be melted to be ridden of.

      What I do now, is try to keep my camera inside a plastic bag or dry bag or a camera case until it has stabilized at the newer warmer temperature inside the habitat before exposing the camera to the new environment - kind of like when you've been out shooting in the cold in winter, and then go back inside a nice warm humid home - keep the camera in case until it reached the new temp. When your camera is deeply cold soaked - you've been outdoors in Yellowstone in February all day - this can take several hours, but when it is 50º outside and 80º and humid in the butterfly habitat keeping the camera in a THIN bag inside your coat, it will come up to the new ambient in just 10-20 minutes and you can then begin shooting. You can also take a small piece of soft leather chami to dry the front surface of your optic. I learned this trick from Marc Muench - just make sure you chami is new, clean, soft and dry. Or a micro fibre cloth might work also. But usually in a butterfly habitat, you have to wait for your equipment to thermally equilibrate, or new moisture will just replace what you have dried off.

      I visited the tropical Butterly habitat on Mackinac Island https://www.originalbutterflyhouse.com in October of 2005 and experienced the fogging you mentioned in your post - but I finally did get my len dried off - I brought the wrong lens for butterflies - an f2.0 135 mm prime - in my first foggy experience photographing butterflies. I did capture some owls though at f2.8. - duh. This RAW frame was never processed ( resting undistrubed in my image files ) until today in LR

      Let's see if Denise will post some more of hers - they are lovely, I'm sure!

    You've been invited!