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How to Photograph Butterflies

By Chris Corradino on March 24, 2015


The New York Institute of Photography is the world’s largest online photography school, and because we are, we often publish fun and useful photography tips. Please enjoy!

How to Photograph Butterflies

A butterfly may not beat its wings as rapidly as a hummingbird, but a fast shutter speed is still necessary to freeze their wing motion. My recommended starting point is no slower than 1/250th of a second. Any slower and the image suffers from blur. You can also use a non-technical trick and wait for a lull in the action before shooting. A butterfly will often dance about the flowers before settling on a spot for several seconds. Resting with its wings open, you'll have a perfect opportunity to capture its full beauty.

Great butterfly photos often have a similar characteristic of clean, uncluttered backgrounds. Knowing this, you can angle yourself accordingly. This definitely adds a new wrinkle to the challenge, but remember, a busy background distracts from the main subject. If you find a particularly great spot with butterflies nearby, you can even wait for one to come to you. Remain patient and it just may happen.

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About the Author

Chris Corradino is the head of the photography mentor program at NYIP. Just like all of our mentors, he is also a professional photographer. See Chris's photography lesson from last week for more.