Butterfly Effect


Lately I’ve been return to my roots a bit, photographically speaking, and doing a bit more shooting with my D7100 + 50mm lens and honestly, it’s been really really nice. As much as I like my Fuji X100F (and you know I like that camera!) there’s something about going back to where it all started and using my crop-sensor camera and the first lens I ever bought. The very same lens, in fact, that got me to start this Weekly Fifty blog way back in the spring of 2013.

When one of my friends from work suggested I bring my camera to get a picture of some of the monarch butterflies that were alighting on the flowers in the garden in front of the Student Union, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to get a classic 50mm shot. Due to their sheer size these butterflies make good photography subjects since you don’t have get in super duper close like you might with smaller creatures. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get a shot like this one earlier in the year due to the time of day and different lighting conditions, but I figured I would at least be able to capture something interesting and colorful nonetheless.

After a few shots at f/4 I decided to go all-in and leave my aperture firmly at f/1.8 because…well, why not. Depth of field at f/1.8 is so unwieldy I knew I would likely get shots that were slightly out of focus, but I really wanted to focus the viewer’s attention firmly on any butterflies I was photographing which called for a super wide aperture despite the issues that situation sometimes causes. I got plenty of images I liked, and sure enough several were front- or back-focused, but this one was one of my favorites because of all the color as well as the interesting foreground element. Which was, I might add, an intentional compositional choice on my part. I specifically shot this with those two branches in between my camera and the butterfly to create a sense of depth and perspective that just wasn’t present in most of my other pictures. It turned out pretty well focused too, and even zoomed in all the way you’ll notice that the butterfly is nice and sharp right where it counts.


  1. Made my morning! What wonderful light and vivid colors!

  2. Rebecca Burlingham says

    I like the idea of foreground interest or bokeh. I’m not sure I like the stick right in front of the butterfly. I do know what you mean about going back to the camera and lens you are most comfortable with.
    Merry Christmas, Simon, and thanks for your gifts of photography insight, knowledge and inspiration.

    • I always appreciate your comments, Rebecca. It’s so interesting to hear how different people would handle similar shots, and that’s part of the beauty of Photography. Thank you, and merry Christmas to you!

  3. Awesome shot! The sunlight through her transparent wings is really cool!

  4. Jill McKechnie says

    Beautiful Monarch photo!

  5. So beautiful! Those wings look like stained glass… or should I say that stained glass looks like those beautiful wings?

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