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There are many trees, shrubs and perennials planted in my garden specifically to attract birds and insects. However, none deliver better than the butterfly bushes! It seems now that they are in full bloom, the winged creatures simply cannot help themselves.

“Lapis Eye” (Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at Butterfly Bush ‘Potter’s Purple’) Nikon D300, 500mm (VR 200-400mm F/4G w/1.4x teleconverter), F/6.3, 1/160s, ISO 640

Snapping many, many images over the course of a few days, I realized I am sadly out of practice. It is amazing how quickly one’s camera skills can get rusty… I guess I’ve been living up to the ‘lazy days’ of summer, huh? 😉

Plus, many of the butterflies that visited had damaged wings, which made getting a good image all the more tricky.

“Wings Wide” (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G, F/6.3, 1/200s, -0.3EV, ISO 400, Built-in iTTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, -1.3EV

I am always fascinated by the hummingbird moths that stop by for a drink.

“Hum-vee” (Snowberry Clearwing Moth at Butterfly Bush ‘Nanho Petite Indigo’) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G, F/4.5, 1/500s, ISO 1600

Just like hummingbirds, these guys are extremely quick and fly so sporadically it can make your head spin!

“Bokeh Hum” (Clearwing Hummingbird Moth at Butterfly Bush ‘Potter’s Purple’) Nikon D300, VR 105mm F/2.8G, F/7.1, 1/320s, -0.3EV, ISO 640, Built-in iTTL Flash w/Gary Fong ‘Puffer’ Diffuser, -1.3EV

Of course, then there are the bees. As I was watching for butterflies, I noticed this one carpenter bee ‘hovering’ in mid-air, waiting for other bees to leave the particular blossom he seemed to be keying in on. 

“Flight of the Bee” (Carpenter Bee in Flight) Nikon D300, 280mm (VR 200-400mm F/4G w/1.4x teleconverter), F/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 640

I did my best to maneuver the huge lens to get a fix on him but only got a single ‘not-so-in-focus’ shot off. Still, I never really thought I’d ever catch a bee in flight so for me, this is pretty darn cool.

Activity at the butterfly bushes will be going strong for quite awhile so I’m sure I’ll get more opportunities to practice. Until then, you can find me at the pool. 🙂


  1. We had one of those purple bug attracting thingys in our garden a few years back, and it was HUGE… Then one winter it just completely died !?!?… Love the shots Tracy, but I’m sure there’s something slightly amiss taking shots of bee’s butt’s though.. lol.. 😉

    • Yeah, that can happen….I lost a total of 5 butterfly bushes the winter of 2003. I’ve since replaced most of them (I think I have 8 in all…I lose track) since they are typically inexpensive and grow rapidly.

      Thanks, Bri!

      “I like bee butts and I can not lie… you other brothers can’t deny…” 😉

  2. The bees are always what shy me away from planting butterfly bushes and other butterfly attractors. I love the way the butterfly bush looks, but with bee allergies in the family I have to steer clear of them 😦

    I will happily look at your gorgeous shots though!

    • Totally understandable, Amy! In my garden, the bees seem to be attracted to everything so I am pretty much used to them being around. I ignore them and they (for the most part) ignore me. I know I would see things much differently if there were serious allergic dangers involved!

      Thanks so much! I will happily supply them for you! 🙂

  3. I like the bee photo!!

  4. If I was a butterfly, I’d be saying you put out a nice spread. 🙂 Interesting comment about the damaged wings. Wonder if the weather recently caused it? We’ve had heavy rains which can not be too kind to such delicate creatures.

    • Ha! Such the comedian, Scott. 😉

      I thought the same thing about the damaged wings…our storms have been fierce with high winds and torrential downpours. And we think we have it rough! 🙂

  5. Very nice shots! The one with the damaged wings is fascinating, I’ve never seen one like it.

    • Thank you, JP!

      No Tiger Swallowtails in your neck of the woods?

  6. I’ve taken some similar pictures this summer – the swallowtails are all over the butterfly bush. I noticed damaged wings too. For “being a little rusty” your shots sure are pretty! And the bee one is wicked cool. Still laughing about the “I like bee butts…”

    • Thanks so much, Karma! 🙂

      My ‘rusty’ comment refers to the massive number of crappy shots I took over those days! It’s like I forget how to take a good photo! When I am shooting every day, I do MUCH better. I was getting very aggravated with myself because I would see an amazing shot and then completely screw it up! And I call myself a ‘professional‘… 😉 Oh well, I’m sure I will get back into the game at some point.

  7. Gorgeous shots, Tracy! I especially like the color and comp of “Bokeh Hum”.

  8. I have butterfly bushes too – and love their attractiveness to insects – especially butterflies. Enjoy the pool;-) I hope the sun is shining over there!

    • The sun IS shining! Nice temperatures, blue skies, white fluffy clouds. Can’t beat it!

      Thanks, Truels! 🙂

  9. I don’t think it’s possible for you to get rusty, M.P… amazing images!
    OMG, Becky… look at that bee’s butt…

    • Au contraire, Sig! If you don’t use it, you lose it! Quickly!

      Thanks! 🙂

      Yeah, Bee-bee’s got back…. 😉

  10. To me, it looks like you’re doing pretty well for someone “out of practice.” Wonderful shots, especially the bee in flight. Pretty amazing!

    I have never seen a hummingbird moth here at Breezy Acres, but I know they are out there. I usually see them in the city, checking out the potted flowers. Maybe they’re too sophisticated for us country folks… ? lol!

    • Thank you, Robin, but you should see the outtakes – yikes! 😉

      I only started noticing the hummingbird moths a few years ago…at first, I got excited because they move like real hummingbirds so I thought they were and went running for the camera. Alas, looking through the lens I realized they weren’t hummers, but, still pretty cool in their own right. They seem to really, really love the butterfly bushes – that is when I see them the most. Do you have any at Breezy Acres?

  11. Wonderful macro work!! The textures, colors and depth of field are excellent!

  12. I’m working on a garden overhaul and have one remaining dwarf butterfly bush that won’t show all its glory until next year. I envy your blossoms and your butterflies. The bee butt is a really unique shot. The hummingbird moths are very attracted to pholx as well.

    • Bush envy, huh? 😉 That is a new one for me!

      I have a few dwarf varieties as well and they don’t quite produce as much as the big guys. I forgot about the phlox – we’ve got many wild varieties growing and yes, they get their fair share of attention!

  13. A gorgeous collection. Why do so many butterflies have damaged wings? 😦 I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hummingbird moth. Incredible!

    • Thank you, Amber. We’ve had some really rough weather of late – torrential rains and high winds (even before Irene). The fragile butterflies tend to get tattered when conditions are like that. Funny thing is…they don’t seem to mind one bit. I wish I could be so nonchalant!

      Hummingbird moths are amazing little critters. I guess they have big shoes to fill! 🙂

  14. It’s true…the butterfly bush outdraws them all. Awesome.

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  1. By A very good year « Milkay Photography on 17 Nov 2011 at 1:59 pm

    […] entry for August… when I wasn’t sweating on the elliptical, I made sure to enjoy the summer sunshine […]

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