Using Sunlight with Butterflies

With Butterflies we normally see shots of detail in their wings from front lighting.  However you can also get some interesting pictures by taking advantage of different sunlight angles.

Backlighting can be effective as this can have the effect of making their wings more translucent and see-through in effect. The same can be said with side lighting too if it is shining at the correct angle.

In a recent trip to Alners Gorse- I took these three shots (and posted with others from the day ) which make use of bright sunlight shining at different angles.

The first is directly from the back of the butterfly – it’s a comma butterfly – and we can see that it the exposure has had the effect of whitening the background and illuminating the butterflies wings.

Backlit Comma - Polygonia c-albumCanon EOS 50D (100mm, f/8, 1/160 sec, ISO400)
Backlit Comma - Polygonia c-album

Backlit Comma – Polygonia c-album. Taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 400 F8 1/160 Natural Light.

This next shot – is with the sunglight from above & behind and slightly to the side of this Green-viened White.  Again the exposure used producing a nicely illuminated wing detail shot.

Backlit Green-veined White - Pieris napiCanon EOS 50D (100mm, f/5.6, 1/800 sec, ISO400)
Backlit Green-veined White - Pieris napi

Backlit Green-veined White – Pieris napi.  Taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 400 F5.6 1/800 Natural Light.

This next shot if cropped to about 3/4 of it’s orignal size – also shows the effect that bright sunlight can have in I think a pleasing way, this time the light is more from the front – directly illuminating the Peacock butterflies wings.

Peacock Butterfly - Inachis ioCanon EOS 50D (100mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO400)
Peacock Butterfly - Inachis io

Peacock Butterfly – Inachis io (Cropped). Taken on Canon 50D with Canon 100mm F2.8 USM Macro Lens.  ISO 400 F5.6 1/640 Natural Light.


I've been taking macro photography from 2004. I use both Canon film and digital cameras.

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