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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. 🙂

A butterfly flitting through the landscape never ceases to amaze me. No matter what I’m doing, I’ll stop and call out, ‘Oooooh, a butterfly!’ as if I’m a child seeing one for the first time. They are just that magical.

Now, I can’t tell you the last time I saw an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail around here, but I know when I last photographed one! 🙂

"Eye of the Tiger" (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with Pink Delight Buddleia) Nikon D300, 105mm F/2.8G Macro, F/3.5, 1/200s, -0.7EV, ISO 500

It was a lovely day in early August when the butterfly bushes were just coming into bloom. And as if the flower spikes weren’t pretty enough, along came the butterflies to crank it up a notch. Boom! Just like that, the chase was on. 🙂

And a chase it was! If you’ve ever tried photographing butterflies, you know how difficult it is to keep up with these erratic fliers. But if you are patient and take LOTS of photos, you just might be rewarded with a little piece of heaven.

While I was shooting this Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail at the Tawny Daylilies, a hummingbird unexpectedly appeared off to the left just outside the frame. However, instead of getting the shot, all I could manage was [Gasp!] “Oh my God, there it IS!” followed by a bit of fumbling with the camera before it vanished as quickly as it came. 

You really can’t blame me. Every time I’ve seen the (rare) hummer in my landscape it is only for mere seconds so I never get the chance to compose myself as a proper photog should and focus fast enough to capture the image. 

Sigh. Oh, the photo that would have been! 🙂

"Swallowed" (Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with Tawny Daylily) Nikon D300, 650mm (200-400mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/9, 1/250s, ISO 400

“Swallowed” (Male Eastern Tiger Swallowtail with Tawny Daylily) Nikon D300, 650mm (200-400mm w/1.7x teleconverter), F/9, 1/250s, ISO 400

All in all, I’m still pretty pleased with the shot I got and there’s always hope for another day when perhaps, just perhaps, by then I’ll have learned to click firstthen gasp! 🙂

This little butterfly made me work! I was out shooting something else (of course) when this little flash of yellow flew by. It was a butterfly I had never photographed!

The chase was on. 🙂

Through the thickets, over piles of wood, into deep shade and then back into bright sunshine. At times, I barely had a chance to raise the lens and focus when he was off fluttering again. 

"Little Yellow" (Clouded Yellow Butterfly) Nikon D300, 105mm macro, F/6.3, 1/1250s, -1.0EV, ISO 200

"Little Yellow" (Clouded Yellow Butterfly) Nikon D300, 105mm macro, F/6.3, 1/1250s, -1.0EV, ISO 200

He landed for a moment and as I was getting in really close (shooting as I went), he lifted and disappeared into the ether. Poof!

Oh, well. Now that I know he is in the area, I will definitely keep an eye out!

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