I had an afternoon taking butterfly pictures in Knebworth.
We walked across to Knebworth from Stevenage and I left Jan and the children in a small playground whilst I walked back to the public footpath which leads across the fields to Stevenage. I had seen a couple of butterflies in the hedgerow there a day or so previously so I guessed that there would be something to photograph.
When I got there the hedgerow was swarming with bees and hover flies and it was a while before I spotted my first butterfly which was a small blue one about half an inch across. With my Tamron 70-300 macro zoom fitted to the camera, I could just focus on it and fire off a couple of shots before it flew away. However when I viewed the shots I had taken it was obvious that I would need to increase the shutter speed because there was a fair amount of camera shake. Since the aperture was already open as wide as possible to throw the background out of focus, I reset the ISO to 640 and that allowed me to hand hold the camera with a shutter speed of about 1/500 th sec which, with the lens set to 300 mm, was OK.
I stayed in the same place for the next few minutes hoping that I’d see some more subjects and sure enough there were several different species which fluttered by and landed close to me over the next hour. With the camera set to manual focus I snapped away and took a total of about 80 shots. I tend to use manual focus for macro shots because the Tamron 70-300 lens doesn’t have a focus motor and it’s noisy and tends to hunt around a bit focussing that close. Once I had exhausted the hedgerow I took a walk around the field using the path which all the dog walkers use and found a couple of other species in the grasses growing in the field.
I’m not a butterfly expert, but when I got home and consulted my Collins Gem butterfly book I think I identified the Common Blue, the Holly Blue, the Speckled Wood, the Gatekeeper and several of the more common white butterflies.
All in all an interesting afternoon.