Location Shoot: Butterfly Pavilion

1/2500 sec F/3.5 ISO 1250

     Living in Colorado provides a lot of photographic opportunities.  All season are beautiful but my photography thrives in the spring, summer and fall months. I find winter difficult because of the cold weather and lack of bright colors. Adding two small kids into the mix can make photography shoots challenging.  In the winter I try to find something that is near by, that will entertain my children and result with some beautiful photographs. I have a few go to places and one is the butterfly pavilion.

     The Butterfly Pavilion is a perfect place to go for a family enrichment activity and get some amazing photographs along the way.  My little guys can explore and play while I capture some great photographs.  There are a lot of bugs, butterflies and sea creatures to capture up close.  I usually stick to the butterflies, because I can't handle being too close to the creepy crawlies!  Photographing butterfly's, like any other insect is a lot of fun. There are a lot of colors, shapes, and unique personalities that can be hard to see and take in because of the fast movement.  Capturing them in a photograph is great way to enjoy all their individual beauty.  This is what I did.

     Camera Bag

     Packing my camera bag was simple.  Besides the family snacks, I only needed to pack my camera and my favorite lens, Nikon 105mm f/2.8.  The Nikon 105mm takes great macro photographs and can also be used as a portrait lens.  However, I chose to use my phone for any family photographs.  There is enough lighting in the building that I did not need a flash and if I needed extra lighting, I was able to  adjust my camera settings to compensate.  It is always recommended to check with the local pavilions on camera rules.  Use a lens that is fast in low lighting situations.  I would suggest a lens that has an aperture of f/2.8 or lower to ensure little camera shake.  A slower lens, f/4 or f/5, can be used but the camera settings might need to be adjusted to prevent camera shake.  Another way to prevent camera shake would be to use a monopod or tripod.  I photograph hands free because it is easier to manage with children, however if choosing to use a tripod I would recommend a monopod because it is a little quicker to move when following flying insects.

 Camera Settings

     The pavilions might not have the best lighting, so it is ideal to keep the ISO at 800 or above.  Opening up your aperture will allow more light in but could cause a slower shutter release, so you will need to have a reasonably quick shutter speed.  It is helpful to keep the camera in either aperture priority or shutter priority (depending on your wanted image outcome).  This will still allow control over the image and speed up shooting.  If worried about incorrect exposure, set the camera up to bracket.  This will help guarantee a correct exposure.  I would recommend to try to use manual focus or partial manual focus.  Sometime auto focus will focus on the wrong part and a good shot is ruined.  However, it should not be completely ruled out because it does have advantages.  If worried about focusing use the back-button focus, and continuous focusing will help.  I recommend as a starting point using aperture priority, setting the aperture at f/3 or f/4 with an ISO at 800+, using partial manual focus.  This will give a nice creamy background with limited depth of field, enough lighting and not too much grain (noise) in the image.  Using partial manual focus will allow control over focusing but your camera will let you know if the part in focus is out of focus. 

How I Got the Shot

     At the pavilions, I had butterflies, buzzing around me, hanging out on the walls, floor, and hovering in the air.  It was a beautiful sight. Some of the butterflies posed nicely for me and did not move while others, as I approached quickly flew away.  I had to keep my guard up, ready to shoot and looking for different perspectives.  I found it challenging not to just stand and take the picture and I had to be constantly reminding myself to get down low or look up high to capture the image.   I wanted to be secure knowing that I had enough lighting, little camera shake and also get the limited depth of field and the creamy background that I love.  To do this I kept my camera on aperture priority, to control my depth of field and let the camera select the shutter speed. I kept my aperture at F/3.5 or F/4 to make sure I was able to get enough lighting and the desired depth of field.  I set my ISO at 800 or above making sure not to go over 1250 to reduce grain, bring in more light and keep the shutter speed at a reasonable setting.  I kept my camera in manual focus, so I could control what part of the picture was in focus, but on fast moving subjects I would quickly move over the partial auto focus with continuous shoot.  I am satisfied with my results and my kids had a lot of fun too.  Below are a few of the photographs I took.

     Feel free to comment and share your photographs.  Happy shooting!

1/2000 sec F/3.5 ISO 1250

1/640 sec F/3.5 ISO 800

1/1250 sec F/3.5 ISO 800

1/250 sec f/3.8 ISO 800

1/250 sec F/4 ISO 800

1/200 sec F/3.5 ISO 800

1/2500 sec F3.5 ISO 1250

1/640 sec F/3.5 ISO 1250


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