I visited Butterfly World today. When it’s really hot outside or looks like it might rain, this is the place I want to be. It’s an easy walk to the indoor airconditioning in their gift shop, and easy to duck out of the rain. Plus, I can shoot mostly in the shade if I wish.
I decided to use my manual focus over the auto focus mode on my t2i. I love the image quality I get with this camera, but the auto focus leaves something to be desired. It has nine focus points, but only the center point is really sensitive.
This means when I compose my shot and use auto focus, I usually have to have my subject in the center of the frame. Now a lot of times that’s fine, there’s a lot of pixels in the center of the frame on a cropped sensor camera like my t2i. But that also means I have to crop in Lightroom or Photoshop if I want the subject off to either side for a more interesting composition. Dead center tends to be deadly.
If I focus manually, I don’t have to crop afterwards. I can simply focus where I want regardless of whether the subject is centered or not, and the crucial part the eyes or face of the subject will be in proper focus. And that’s how things seemed to work today.
I also started using manual exposure after the first few shots today. I usually shoot in Aperture Priority. That means I pick how much of the picture is going to be in focus and the camera decides what the shutter speed is going to be. A lot times this works well, but I have found that I also can get better exposures setting everything myself.
So I set the shutter speed at a fairly quick 1/160 of a second and the aperture at f4.5 to f5.6. This give me a fair amount of the butterfly in focus, especially the eye closest to me and the front wing. The fast shutter speed helps safeguard against camera shake.
The shot you see above is the last shot of the day. I was literally at the door of the aviary when I turned and made this image. I couldn’t resist it, the butterfly was practically hugging the flower with its front legs.
Technically, its not the best butterfly shot I’ve taken. It’s not tack sharp at 100% zoom in Lightroom, I usually reject it and move on. But this pose was so compelling, and the image so beautiful, I set aside the technical aspect and embraced the picture as it was.
And that’s important. To know when to set aside technical considerations and follow my heart. I want to my images to be correct as possible, but it’s possible to go too far and reject an image that expresses a concept beautifully because it’s “not up to standards”. I’m learning new things all the time.