Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Silver studds at Prees Heath july 9th 2012

It was time to re visit Prees Heath in Shropshire to shoot the last remaining colony of the rare silver studded blue butterfly in the midlands, in my opinion the most beautiful of the blue species.
so early in the morning i arrived on a cool breezy morning to hopefully see a few emerging being attended to by ants.

walking down the main track through the trees adjacent to the old airport runway i immediately noticed a lack of butterflies!   there should be hundreds of them by now  this time in july ?     But the heather is looking awesome in full flower :)

The first butterfly i have actually found is a Small Heath , i haven't shot one this year so this will be a good chance , especially as its quite cool and this specimen doesn't look like it wants to fly off! 
first a perched shot on heather .  i make sure of a nice background and shoot at f6.3 to keep dof shallow to give a clean background.

then i carefully cut the stem its resting on and turn it to get a slightly different background with slightly more flower colour in the background :)

                      now time for a couple of portrait shots with canon mpe-65 macro lens , i place the butterfly on the ground so i can shoot multiple frames to focus stack to increase depth of field. i have to use my camera bag as a wind shield to keep it still  lol

                   and with a nice red coloured stone placed behind for a bit more background colour.
                                                           Yes i keep one in my bag :D

                 Now walking down the central area of heather looking for emerging silver studds

Found one!!!!!!!!      already emerged but still has a few ants around it , but it is not in a good position to shoot with mpe so will try with standard 100 mm macro for a full shot. isn't this great , an ant perching on the butterflies antennas :)

back looking for a few more and i eventually find a fairly newly emerged female perched on a heather flower, which does make a stunning combination.

walking through the heather there appears to be loads of silvers hiding from the wind in the heather , impossible to photograph but a great sight to see.  the heather really is looking great this year.

i find a patch of ground which has plenty of ant nests but after a good search not a single butterfly emerging , but...................

  i have found a fresh female that i move onto one of the flowers to photograph. and Yes i got covered in ants lying down to shoot this image!

No its not cheating , just taking advantage of a situation where a cool butterfly can be moved safely.   and here is another female that i have placed on a beautiful pink flower, cut off and held in a small clamp that i can shelter from the wind and get a nice clean background.   sorry for bad phone pic, but shows how its done :D

    The resulting image, you can clearly see why this species is named silver studded, the studs are very noticeable along the lower edge of wing of this female showing quite blue in this image.

                               i have just found a beautiful looking fly , so had to shoot it   lol 
                                                               well , i think its beautiful :D

    Finally my favourite image of the day , a male silver studd perched gently on the tip of a pink flower, compositionaly i prefer this wider view compared to the closer frame filling composition of previous female on the pink flowers.

           The end of a challenging shoot in breezy conditions but a series of really great images.

                       images shot with canon 5d2,100mmL macro & mpe-65 macro lens


  1. Love the contrast of the silver studded butterfly on the pink flower. Great photos once again :-)

  2. Great photos as usual - favourite is the ant on the antennae. Loved seeing the tricks of the trade. I wonder what else you carry in your pockets - just in case...

  3. Great article and photos. That clamp looks usefully compact, is the bar cut-down or did it come like that? If the latter where did you get it?


    1. Hi Kelvin , yes the bar was cut down from about 10 inch to about 4 inch. only need it to open half inch max to hold thin stems. can get them in most hardware shops , B&Q , Homebase ect