22 June 2011

Butterfly Portraits - Club Silverline

Butterfly Portraits
Club Silverline (Spindasis syama terana)

Nikon D300, fill-flashed with SB600, Tamron 180mm f/3.5, ISO 640, 1/160s, f/8, Aperture Priority Mode and Rear Synch, Supported on monopod

Back in 2009, our favorite hunting ground for Silverlines at Punggol had been cleared to make way for more public housing apartments. It was around that time when ButterflyCircle member Sunny Chir chanced upon a colony of the Silverlines at a site just behind where I stay.

It was an overcast day, but still hot and humid with a gentle breeze to provide some comfort. Typical Singapore weather, with ideal diffused light, and no harsh shadows - ideal for butterfly photography. Not long after heading into the site, a few individuals were spotted, contesting each other for territory in their acrobatic “dog-fights”. After observing the “combatants” for a while, I narrowed my target to this pristine male that kept defending its territory and landing repeatedly at a few favourite Lallang perches.

It was a test of patience to nail this butterfly. Every time it landed, I only had a short while to maneuver around it to get into position to shoot before it took off to chase away an invader to its territory. It took quite a while before it landed on a perch with a good background and light too.

It eventually landed on a rather dimly lit perch and at an awkward angle. I cranked up the ISO to 640 and used my monopod as a support for my camera. I twisted my body to a low angle to get as parallel as possible to the butterfly. It was also necessary to close up the aperture to f/8 to make sure I get the tails fluttering in the breeze in focus.

I must say this is still one of my favorite shots of the Club Silverline. I like the minor tonal differences in the background and the simple composition that allows the silvery patterns on the wings to pop out of the screen and this beautiful butterfly to be viewed without distraction.

ButterflyCircle Photographer : Mark Wong, an Architectural Assistant in his mid-20's