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Earlier this year, I visited a show of tropical butterflies. It was cold outside and way too hot and humid inside. However, the water drops dripping about everywhere made for some really nice pictures with the colorful butterflies:

A black and yellow butterfly sits on a green leaf, just as a drop of water is about to fall.

Black and yellow butterfly on a green leaf.

Notice how the narrow depth of field draws your eyes to the eyes of the butterfly. I feel as though it will dip into the drop of water for a quick drink before taking off again.

Unfortunately, I did not take any notes and I can not find the name of this wonderful little critter.

For the technical minded: the picture was taken in available light at ISO 400, 1/80s, f/2.8. It would interest me to see how the image would look at f/4 or even f/8 with increased depth of field to include the butterfly wings … next time. 🙂

While out walking I spotted this Small Tortoiseshell Painted Lady butterfly sitting on a purple lilac:

Painted Lady butterfly sitting on a purple lilac..

Painted Lady butterfly sitting on a purple lilac.

For some reason, lilacs seems to drive butterflies in general and these in particular into an ecstatic frenzy: the butterflies come from all over, congregate on the blossoms, and flutter about as if delirious with pleasure. I guess the nectar from the blossoms is really, really tasty.

Photographically speaking, the image was quite a challenge to obtain: I was carrying only a Canon G9 at the time, so I had to get quite close to the butterfly to be able to photograph it. And even though the butterfly was having a really good meal, it clearly did not want to become a meal for someone else – so it was moving about at a brisk pace and did not allow me to get very close at all.

I cranked out the zoom all the way and held the camera at arms length, which at least allowed me to get close enough to get a significant part of the frame to show butterfly, not background.

The problems did not end here: when cranked out fully, the G9 is at f4.8 and the late afternoon light was not bright enough to allow a short enough exposure to freeze the butterflies motion at ISO 80, which is the lowest ISO the G9 will allow. (I usually use ISO 80 to reduce noise to the minimum.) In this case, I decided that noise would be less of a problem than motion blur and set the ISO to 200 to allow a 1/320s exposure.

The result is adequately sharp. If you look very closely, you can tell that sharpness begins to drop off near the butterfly head. Just a little bit softer and I would have tossed the image – I guess that having a small sensor (and therefore great depth of field) was good in this case.

Update 06-MAY-2010: Reader J Danson kindly pointed out that this is not a Small Tortoiseshell but rather a Painted Lady. He’s right, so I’ve fixed the posting but have left the URL intact.

The garden spider or cross spider is one of the more common (and quite harmless) spiders that builds large circular webs. This one is a european garden spider or diadem spider (Araneus diadematus) which my daughter found in our garden:

Diadem Spider in its web.

Back lit diadem spider in its web.

In this image, I like the way the sunlight shines through the lighter parts of the spiders body, making it appear that the spider glows from within.

As I was watching the spider and photographing it I saw it catch three small flies in its web. I guess that pretty soon this spider is going to be quite a bit larger …

Green Lizard

The green streak on the brown bark of the tree caught my attention. It turned out to be a wonderfully fluorescent green lizard sitting upside-down on the trunk of the tree:

A bright green lizard on a tree.

Green Lizard

I am not quite sure what the lizard was looking at. Perhaps the person behind the camera was every bit intriguing as the lizard in front of the camera?

Fern Spiral

A fern leaf unrolls itself from a tightly wound spiral towards the light as it grows.

A fresh fern leaf spirals up towards the light.

Fern Spiral

Ferns as a group are quite old – the fossil records date back to the early Carboniferous period, so roughly 360 million years ago, have been found. Isn’t it amazing that organisms are so well adapted that the species survives almost 400 million years and shows no sign of weakness?

Even though this long history is certainly not unique to ferns, I always get the feeling that a dinosaur might peek through the leaves at me when I come across a fern … 😉

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