Butterfly Photo Workshop Is a Wrap!

Photographing a monarch

Photographing a Monarch during Jeff Parker’s butterfly photo workshop ~ a creative photo by Beatriz Boillat

Red Belly Ranch hosted 9 photographers for the full-day Butterfly Photo Workshop. A fun day of butterfly photography, learning, and fun on April 27. The cool, dry spring brought us a lot fewer butterflies this year than normal so we had to get creative. Of course, the “dry” spring blew in a big storm that very afternoon and we did get some rain during the workshop. What an unpredictable year it’s been from a natural standpoint!

Captive-raised Monarchs and Painted Ladies saved the day. Remarkably, three weeks later some of the Monarchs are still hanging out in our butterfly garden!

Monarch close-up by Linda Sheppard

Monarch close-up taken by Linda Sheppard at Red Belly Ranch

Several folks had macro lenses and that allowed them to get in close and create shots like this one by Linda Sheppard. We had the butterflies in an enclosed area during the workshop which made it a little easier to get close. Those who found butterflies near the Red Belly’s ponds had some luck, too. Nancy Naylor was especially determined to get a good “wild-butterfly” shot and I believe her patience paid off.

American Lady butterfly by Nancy Naylor

American Lady butterfly, by Nancy Naylor ~ near one of Red Belly Ranch’s small ponds

We discovered three tiny Monarch caterpillars on a piece of milkweed that Mary had picked for a prop (these were some of Red Belly Ranch’s natural inhabitants). That added a nice surprise and some photographic fun (and interest). [An update on the status of these littlest participants: This morning one of the three hatched into an adult Monarch. It is drying its wings as I write this, reminding me yet again what a miracle nature is.]

Monarch close-up

Monarch close-up, by Jeff Parker

We worked on creating backgrounds and participant Nicole Torres was our tissue paper “Matador(a).” I think she had more fun assisting others with their backgrounds than she did taking a single photo! After the workshop, my lovely and talented wife Mary held orange tissue paper as a background for me while I worked to get the shot above.

Backlit Monarch

Backlit Monarch, by Jeff Parker

With the butterflies confined and artificial lights set up just as we wanted them, getting back-lit images proved fairly easy to do.

Monarch on penta flower

Monarch on penta flower, by Jeff Parker

To get butterfly wings sharp all the way across it is crucial to get your camera parallel to the wing surface. Otherwise, the limited depth of field will cause the wing to blur if there is any tilt.

Fleabane by Kathy McCall

Fleabane (and friends) by Kathy McCall, taken during photo workshop at Red Belly Ranch

As always, the Red Belly hosted plenty of other subjects worthy of photographing. As participant Rose Epps said, “Even flies need love, too!” To wit: this nice image of fleabane flowers (and friend) captured by Kathy McCall. The simplicity of shapes and colors work together nicely here.

Beatriz Boillat supplied us with the image below of one of Mary’s wildflower bouquets. Mary really loves this photo and suggested to Beatriz that she create sets of note cards from it.

Wildflowers by Beatriz Boillat

Central-Texas wildflowers, by Beatriz Boillat