The Roving Photographer

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Small Summer Critters

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeding on blossoms at Bullhead Bay on the afternoon of 13 July 2011.

Got another chance to work with a butterfly this week, and compared to my first attempt a few weeks back, it went very well.  Unlike last time, when I was chasing them around a parking lot with little success, this one – an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – was distracted by one of the two most powerful, instinctual drives in nature: food.  (The other, of course, being sex.)

Frankly, I’m not sure that a butterfly of the opposite gender would have excited this guy (gal?) as much as the flowers did.  I was within a meter of him at times and he didn’t care, didn’t even acknowledge that I was there over the draw of the feeding frenzy.  And fortunately for me, he landed to feed, staying put long enough to grab focus and mash the hi-speed drive.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly feeding on blossoms at Bullhead Bay on the afternoon of 13 July 2011.

As I mentioned before, the trouble with insects is that they usually display little logic in their movements.  Unlike other animals, which may be predictable, insects move in seemingly random patterns, making it almost impossible to get a lead on them.  These few moments when they’re still – or at least in one place – are the best chance you get for making the image.

A few feet below, amid the grass and marsh reeds, is a whole other world.  I wish I could say that I found this guy through careful stalking, crawling through the mud.  Instead, I nearly stepped on him before I noticed he was there:

American Bullfrog in the marsh at Bullhead Bay on the afternoon of 13 July 2011.

Enter the ever-present but rarely seen American Bullfrog.  Unlike the distracted butterfly above, this guy’s strategy is to remain perfectly still in hopes that a predator will overlook him.  Lucky for him, I wasn’t in the mood for frog legs.  But the trick still was getting down there at the predator’s level, nearly eye to eye, to really bring out the environmental factor.

Shooting Info: Canon 7D + 70-200L f/4 IS, Av mode, ISO 400, f/8

 

Brent Pennington

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