Saturday, August 01, 2015

Photo of the Day


I spotted this butterfly landing on a tree as I was walking back to my office after lunch by the pond at Innovation Place. I stopped to look at it, assuming it would fly away shortly since usually they don't sit still for too long. It stayed for a while, even letting me get quite close so I backed off and pulled my camera out of my pack. As soon as I took the first shot I knew it wouldn't be very good since I was shooting towards the sun and a bright sky, making the butterfly too dark.

This is probably recoverable on the computer, but it's better to start with something decent, rather than try to rescue it later.

I could have adjusted the camera exposure to make the butterfly brighter, but then the background would have been "blown out" (too bright). So I turned the flash on. Usually I'd lower the flash power so it wasn't overpowering, especially up close. But I figured with sunny mid-day I wouldn't need to. Looking at the photos on the computer I probably should have still lowered it a little bit.

I also tried moving around so I was shooting away from the sun and didn't need the flash, but it wasn't as good an angle, although more natural looking without the flash.


Why do I think this is a butterfly rather than a moth? There's no simple answer, but a bunch of clues:

  • thin antenna with "clubs" on the end
  • out during the day (most moths are nocturnal)
  • resting with wings together (moths usually rest with wings open)
  • butterflies are often more colorful than moths, and although the underside of this one is fairly drab, the top side was a much brighter orange
However, butterflies usually have smooth slender bodies, whereas this one was stouter and furry looking like a moth.

From my butterfly app I'm guessing this is a California Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis californica), although Saskatoon is on the edge of its range. (It's usually found in forested areas in the mountains.) 

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