Butterflies to the Rescue – Photographs of these Fluttering Beauties

Queen butterfly on pink Dahlia flower.

After the hail storm (covered in the previous post), my local flower photography subject matter was pretty much decimated. A few pockets were left relatively unscathed. But the local gardens were trashed. Thankfully the storm hit late August so many flowers had passed their prime. But I was still left with seeking out other photos ops.

Enter Butterflies into the Picture – Literally!

butterfly on green foliage
Butterfly on green foliage in the butterfly house.

These days I prefer not to travel very far. Thus I was in search of other local options and The Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms (an extension of the Denver Botanic Gardens) turned out to be a great locale for a photo fix. Plus as a member of the Botanic Gardens, entry is a freebie 🙂

For a short period in the summer months, the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield have a butterfly house. If I understand correctly, the butterflies are supplied by The Butterfly Pavilion (a place on my “to-do” list to visit.) It’s an enclosure and habitat specifically for butterflies. And if you get there when there’s lots of the little guys fluttering about it does not disappoint.

So with camera and Velvet 56 lens in hand, I headed off to capture some photos of butterflies. This proved to be a great option AND the gardens had not gotten hit by the hail storm. So not only was I able to spend time in the butterfly house, but there were still plenty of flowers happily in a late summer bloom. It was all a great discovery.

Needless to say, since my initial visit, I’ve gone back several times to photograph these fluttering beauties.

Watch Where You Step

Apparently butterflies eat minerals from the ground. So while in the butterfly house you have to watch where you step do avoid any casualties. In the photo below, this long-winged Julia butterfly was hanging out on some rocks. I found it a rather Zen moment as its wings were open on the rounded stones.

long-winged butterfly on rocks
Long-winged Julia butterfly hanging out on round stones.

The big blue Pipevine Swallowtails were really beautiful with all their intricate markings. And in the photo below you can even see its curled up proboscis. Kinda cool! Against the bright green foliage it almost looked like an artificial prop vs. a living creature.

blue pipevine swallowtail butterfly on foliage
Big blue Pipevine Swallowtail taking a break.

Hello Zebra

Zebra long-winged butterfly photo
Zebra long-winged butterfly photo taken with a Velvet 56 lens.

One of my favorite photos by far was of this Zebra long-winged butterfly. I had never seen anything like it before. Nature is full of surprises with all of its unique combinations.

While these fluttering aficionados don’t stay still for long, I was able to capture the little fella on a pollinating reprieve.

With the use of the Velvet 56 lens, the Zebra butterfly against the green foliage in the background, resulted in a photo that looked more like a painting.

It may not be the sharpest of photos, but I could not have been more thrilled with how this photo turned out.

Truth be told, this particular image graces my new just…b photography business cards.

Out of Containment

Ideally it would be great to see all these beautiful butterflies in a less contained setting – where they actually belong. These days I’m happy to see the occasional big yellow Swallowtail fluttering about. Rare is the moment when I’ve seen a Monarch. If fact I know the exact date and where the last time I saw one. It was almost 6 years to the day in Santa Fe, NM.

Given the declining populations of pollinators due to pesticide use and habitat loss, I’m grateful for the opportunity to see these or any butterflies – even if their lives are rather fleeting – often lasting only about ten days.

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