In July, 2015 I was given a couple of butterfly chrysalises by a friend and butterfly enthusiast, Linda Avitt. They were very near the state when they were ready to emerge (or eclose, as the experts say) as adults.
I quickly went about setting up my lab as an expectant photographer knowing I would see adults at any moment. I wanted detailed closeups, and timed sequential images and video of the event. So for all the stills, I used SB-910 Speedlights with Lastolite EZBox Speedlight modifiers and reflectors. For the video, I used a daylight balanced, flat LED panel. All lighting was balanced for balanced flash and ambient light exposure.
Cameras included Nikon D800 for stills (RAW and JPG) and Nikon D90 for the MP-4 video. Timed sequences were setup using Nikon’s MC-36 remote cord intervalometer set to shoot every ten seconds. All cameras were securely mounted on tripods. The composition was set loose so there was ample room around the chrysalis for the emerging activity so nothing had to be moved.
For the staged insect, I picked a fresh stem of butterfly weed and kept it in a bottle of water. The chrysalis was secured to the plant stem with a drop of super glue, mimicking the natural attachment. Everything was clamped securely to the lab table.
Test images were made and exposures adjusted and composition and equipment fine tuned. All was in readiness, only to wait. This was Tuesday morning at 7:57 AM. And wait. And wait. . . NOTHING!
Finally, the color began to change at 11:22 PM, some fifteen hours later. So much for the butterfly being ready to go. So it is with nature photography. The following sequence is selected from 45o images made that evening and early the next morning. Times are listed within each image.
So after a twenty-seven hour process a pristine male monarch butterfly was released into my garden and I was able to take a nap!
Copyright © 2015 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.