Tropical butterflies

Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Photography, Travel | 3 Comments

Common Postman (Heliconius melpomene)

I participated in a unique experience recently in the tropical conservatory at the Butterfly Pavilion, Westminster, CO. With tripods and cameras in hand, we photographers were allowed access to the tropical rainforest one hour before the doors opened to the public. The 7,200 square-foot tropical rainforest conservatory was filled with over a thousand free-flying tropical butterflies. The less-than-sunny weather turned out to be advantageous: the overcast sky created a giant soft box that produced even lighting and the previously rainy conditions had a calming effect on the awakening butterflies, and created an ideal portrait session with the little invertebrates.

I set my camera exposure for the available lighting, but used a Canon ring flash for fill light. The ring flash allowed me to get in close with my 100mm macro and it provided the right intensity of flash without producing harsh shadows.

My complete photography gear included:

  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 100mm f2.8L macro
  • Canon MR-14EX TTL macro ring flash
  • Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod
  • Kirk BH-3 ball head with quick-release platform
  • Really Right Stuff L-plate

White Morpho (Morpho polyphemus)

Owl Butterfly (Caligo sp.)

African Blue-banded Swallowtail (Papilio nireus)

Giant Emperor (Charaxes castor)

200 tropical plant species from around the world adorn the rainforest conservatory

If you’re in the Denver area, the Butterfly Pavilion is a must-see attraction for the whole family.

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  1. Jim Denham
    May 21, 2012

    Looks like a fun time and great conditions for producing some great photos! Really good stuff Chris!

  2. Eden
    May 21, 2012

    Nicely done! Cool macros.

  3. Toad Hollow Photography
    May 26, 2012

    GREAT series, my friend! Thanks for taking us along on your adventure! Fabulous details and colors in these little creatures, and you’ve certainly done a top drawer job capturing these to share!


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