Monday, 7 May 2012

Chester Zoo Butterfly House April 30

Since the weather has been so bad for the last 3 weeks and no butterflies have been emerging,  i needed to get some practise for when, or IF we eventually get some warm dry weather to encourage them to emerge!    so the warm tropical butterfly house at Chester zoo  was a good place to spend a cold spring day :))))
I don't usually visit at this time of year so it was a good surprise to see loads of species i normally will not see in the winter time in here :)
My plan was to use a set of extension tubes on a 100mm macro lens to shoot some close ups first , then full body shots later but as it turned out there where so many butterflies to shoot, i ended up swapping around all day!

                                                          Here is a phone shot of the "house"

My first shot was of an "Indian leaf" butterfly feeding, shot at x2 magnification. 3 frames focus stacked in photoshop by hand on layer masks to increase depth of field.

Here is a different "leaf" to show its wonderful camouflage, yes its on my hand!!!!  it actually fed on my hand for over 20 minutes while i carried on shooting!  i had placed my hand on a banana while shooting the close up image , so plenty of remnants on skin  :)))

Next species to shoot in close up was a "blue morpho" butterfly, quite a large species which normally stays still for long periods which allows good focus stacks to be shot. 14 frames hand held this image!

I took the extension tubes of and started shooting full shots, using higher iso to keep shutter speed high enough to prevent motion blur.   the butterflies are placed on a large shrub after emerging and i found this beauty hanging after recently emerging. a 2 frame focus stack.

                           Here is a Ithomid butterfly, a close relative of the Heliconids.   iso 640, f6.3

                                                   Another shot from inside the house!

and this was shot in the lower right hand corner from above image.

There had been a very large white butterfly fluttering around and eventually i found it resting on the ground, it turned out to be a "white morpho"   firstly i shot a natural light focus stack

                                                         then a close up with flash, focus stacked.

                                               Here are just a few other species that i shot

              An  Indian leaf butterfly showing alot more colour than the camouflaged under wings

There were quite a few Swallowtails fluttering around feeding on the flowers, i managed to get this shot but did shoot alot of frames to get just 2 in focus images!!

           And another couple of feeding shots :) This is a single frame , frames would not align for a focus stack, it was moving too much while feeding!  haha

Shot with flash & higher iso to balance background light to prevent a black background caused by flash fall out.

                              Another phone pic showing another part of the area by the boardwalk

              Here is a beautifully back lit species, love the light through the wings:D  one of my favourite images of the day:)))))))

                   A few more "Indian leaf" shots,this one on my hand, they do vary in colour alot!

The Glasswing is one of my favourite butterflies , so hard to shoot! another of my best shots of the day:)

A Final artistic shot :))))

all shots Canon 5d2 and 100mmL macro


  1. Really nice shots Phil-shame you had to revert to tropical species but the British ones will be along soon no doubt. I hope to visit our local butterfly house shortly but it's only tiny and not too many species.

  2. Great photos! Wish there were more butterflies out and about :)

  3. Great Photos. Do you use a tripod. Any tips on focus stacking?