Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

July 23, 2010


The butterfly bushes in my yard have gotten quite large this year and they have become the spot for meeting visitors to my yard, including the elusive hummingbird, who has been taunting me on a fairly regular basis now.  Lucky for me, butterflies seem to be happier to hang around and pose for a few pictures!  While I’m still waiting for a traditional monarch shot, I’ve gotten a few other interesting pictures, starting with the Great Spangled Frillitary a few weeks ago.

After the GSF, my next visitor to stay for a portrait was a Tiger Swallowtail:



It stayed around long enough for me to take a bunch of shots.  These were my three favorites.  I don’t remember how much I was thinking about the white balance and exposure compensation and ISO this day;  I just remember excitedly clicking away.  Is it just me, or is there something about dSLR’s that makes you just want to shoot again and again and again?  Maybe its because I’m new to them. 

 On this same day, another critter that I discovered for the first time only two years ago, appeared for a sip at the butterfly bush.  Its called a hummingbird moth.  Have you ever seen one of these before?



They are the size of a moth, sip from flowers like butterflies, and have wings that move as fast as, and allow them to hover like hummingbirds.

I danced around the butterfly bushes and the deck taking photo after photo of this fast-moving Pipevine Swallowtail.  It would land, I would focus, it would move.  I went up and down the deck stairs, to the tops and the bottoms of the butterfly bush chasing this butterfly around hoping for a nice shot.  Its movement was quite erratic and the wings rarely stopped moving so I found it challenging, but ended up with a few shots to share:

After I chased it around for a while, and realized it seemed happy to feed at my bushes for a while, it dawned on me, uh, Karen, why not try a fast shutter speed?  Oh yeah, I can do that easily now…

Stop-action on those crazy fast wings!  Yahoo! 

While this last one isn’t perfectly focused, I thought it had a bit of a moody, “artsy” feel to it with the edges of the wings in focus, the body blurred and the blue sky background:

I’m still hoping that my camera-shy hummingbird will make an appearance one of these days while I am outside with the camera at the ready, but for now I’m happy that at least the butterflies gave me the time of day!


  1. Back when we lived in Maine we had the most beautiful phlox and a hummingbird moth that for the longest time we mistook for a hummingbird. Love your butterfly photos. I’ve got to plant a butterfly bush!

    Comment by Becky Sue — July 23, 2010 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

    • Thank you! If you do plant a butterfly bush, be sure to find a spot where it can spread out and get tall!

      Comment by karma — July 25, 2010 @ 4:54 pm | Reply

  2. I loved the butterflies! I haven’t seen very many this year, so it was a treat to find them here.

    Comment by Gerry — July 24, 2010 @ 12:13 am | Reply

  3. Great shots, Karen! We just saw a Tiger Swallowtail in our yard this morning, but I didn’t go out to try and get pictures of it (dodging mosquitoes just didn’t sound very applealing to me this morning).
    Don’t think I’ve ever seen a Hummingbird Moth. Very cool!
    The last shot is my favorite…. I love that you can still see color in the wings, and everything else is a silhouette.

    If your butterflies are around in the morning, they’re much easier to photograph because they move slower when it’s cooler outside. Found that out one day at the Arboretum 🙂

    Comment by thedailyclick — July 24, 2010 @ 1:19 pm | Reply

    • Good to know – I will have to look for them in the morning sometime.

      Comment by karma — July 25, 2010 @ 4:56 pm | Reply

  4. Sure does seem you’re really getting to grips with the new camera… These are great… How lucky are you to have such a selection of butterflies to choose from too… My personal fave is the third of your Swallowtail, although I’d have cropped it slightly tighter though… 🙂

    Comment by FS Photography — July 25, 2010 @ 7:32 am | Reply

    • Each day I get a little more comfortable with handling it. In fact, my sister is letting me borrow the lenses from her old film Rebel. Any chance you’d be able to give me some hints handling a 75-300mm vs. the 55-250 I’ve been using? How much difference could I expect?

      Not to be picky here Brian, but both butterflies are swallowtails! But I’m thinking you are talking about the yellow one that could use a closer crop? I agree.

      Comment by karma — July 25, 2010 @ 4:59 pm | Reply

      • Ahhh the 75-300 won’t be too much different to your 55-250… except depending on its age it might not have image stabilisation, so you’ll have to open up your aperture and keep the shutter speed as high as you can to avoid camera shake… And lol… Yeah I knew they were all swallowtails, I just meant with your other flutterby shots you get plenty of choice, unlike us… with our handful of brown moths… lol..

        Comment by FS Photography — July 26, 2010 @ 12:22 pm

      • Good point – I don’t believe it has the stabilization. Perhaps I won’t spend too much time messing with it.

        Comment by Karma — July 26, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

  5. Love the second to last one. Cool bokeh!

    Comment by JenniferA — July 25, 2010 @ 8:20 pm | Reply

  6. Some of the best butterfly images I have seen. Very nice.

    Comment by burstmode — July 26, 2010 @ 8:39 am | Reply

    • Thank you for stopping by and leaving a nice comment!

      Comment by Karma — July 26, 2010 @ 8:56 am | Reply

  7. Lovely photos! Never seen or heard of a hummingbird moth before. How cute! Looks like he gave you some practice for the bigger, relatively speaking, hummingbird.

    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — July 26, 2010 @ 11:06 am | Reply

    • I hope you’re right, Scott!
      Thank you!

      Comment by Karma — July 26, 2010 @ 11:57 am | Reply

  8. Great shots!

    I have heard of the hummingbird moth. I took some photos of one last summer and never did get around to posting them. Thanks for the reminder.

    It looks like you and your new camera are getting along really well. 🙂

    Comment by Robin — July 26, 2010 @ 11:46 am | Reply

    • Thanks Robin! Rebel and I are getting on very happily lately!

      Comment by Karma — July 26, 2010 @ 11:59 am | Reply

  9. LOVE butterflies! Ours seem to have arrived as well! The silhouette shot is my favorite.

    Ah, yes, hummingbird moths are very cool!

    P.S. I actually got a (very poor) shot of one of the hummingbirds yesterday! So, at least now I have confirmed it is a Ruby Throated (well, at least that is what the female looks to be in my photo) and now I’m sure I will be camping out at my neighbor’s each afternoon to see if I can get a better shot!

    Comment by milkayphoto — July 27, 2010 @ 9:32 am | Reply

    • Tracy, your “very poor” idea of a shot would probably be considered “outstanding” compared to a shot that I might be able to get! 😉 I hope you post it!
      My hummingbird came by the fuchsia plant again today – I got my camera in my hands and stood at the door gasping and staring at my camera settings trying to decide if I had it ready to go and I just couldn’t think and take the shot! Needless to say, it got away again!

      Comment by Karma — July 27, 2010 @ 3:44 pm | Reply

      • No, not this time I’m afraid! Haven’t seen the hummer in a few days now….so sad…. 😦

        Comment by milkayphoto — July 29, 2010 @ 3:21 pm

  10. […] around her local area to get her shots.  She included that familiar but curious critter, the hummingbird moth and took a drive with her family to find her cow […]

    Pingback by June Photo Hunt Wrap-Up « Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog — June 30, 2011 @ 10:50 am | Reply

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