Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Obsessive-compulsive Butterfly Photography Disorder

©2013 Steve BorichevskyI came home from a morning photo shoot Sunday morning and thought I had a pretty successful outing. Well, I should have stayed home! I looked out the window and there was an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail in the garden. Gadzooks! I tried to ignore it, after all I’m having a banner Tiger Swallowtail year and I know what’s going to happen if I go out there. I’m going to start shooting and wind up with a bunch of awesome shots that I then have to edit . On top of that, come on…how many Eastern Tiger Swallowtail images do I need?

Seriously, I’m trying to be more disciplined. You know, I’m trying not to rely on the twelve thousand monkeys to get a good image. Nah, I should have headed for the showers and let this one go. Then I walked by my binoculars and made the mistake of checking it out. This one was so fresh and so perfect! That was it…the switch was flipped n my head and I grabbed my gear and headed out. (I’m going to be hours editing these shots. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will be go when I get out there. Nope. It stayed.)

Now I could have just taken the first frame (left) and called it “in the can”, but then the adrenalin kicked in. I took about 30 frames. I swear, in the American Psychiatric Association DSM, you’ll find my disorder somewhere. What, you do not know about DSM? You should. This is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. (So these birds get together each year and by a show of hands, they vote on what new “mental disorders” to add to the book so that just about every man, woman and child qualifies to get the latest psych drug. I kid you not.) It will tell how to pigeon hole some quirky behavior, but won’t give you anything safe and effective to help people that really need it. But don’t get me going on that scam**. We’re not here to nominate Obsessive-compulsive Butterfly Photography Disorder to be included into the DSM, although I’m sure the Ely Lilly has an expensive drug for that. Don’t get me wrong. There are people out there that need help and I’m all for that, but labeling them with some made-up pseudo-science quackery name and putting them on mega-downers is a great injustice and criminal.  Okay. I’m done.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

Since you put up with my rant and kept reading, I’m going to provide you with one of my artistic secrets. A lot of of folks comment on my style and the bokeh effects that I create. I’m using a 300mm f/4 lens. The first thing that I do after I find a subject is to visualize the image I want to take and look over the scene for what I have to work with. This was perfect because the sun was behind me. Since there wasn’t a lot of nearby objects to clutter the image, I set the lens on f/8. With the bright light, I was shooting around 1/400 sec exposures at ISO 250. All of these images were shot with the aperture set to f/7 through f/9. Since the butterfly was pretty twitchy, I wanted to keep the shutter speed short.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

The shots above are all full frame, except I gave them an 8X10 crop for esthetic reasons. In order to get the complementary yellows in the background, I lined up some goldenrods that were about 50 feet back. Below is the same setup as above, but I focused on the goldenrods. The yellow blur to the left of the purple streak is the butterfly. The minimum focus distance for this lens is about eight feet and I was pushing that to the limit. This makes for a shallow depth of field.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

Finally, a detail image showing how sharp things should be for a keeper shot in this style. I kept 21 out of 35. Part of the reason I overshot this is because in the field, I cannot tell if a shot is tack sharp or not, so I’ll take some backup shots.

©2013 Steve Borichevsky

I hope that tip helps.


**National Institute of Mental Health director Thomas R. Insel, MD, wrote in an April 29, 2013 blog post about DSM-5: “The goal of this new manual, as with all previous editions, is to provide a common language for describing psychopathology. While DSM has been described as a “Bible” for the field, it is, at best, a dictionary, creating a set of labels and defining each. The strength of each of the editions of DSM has been “reliability” – each edition has ensured that clinicians use the same terms in the same ways. The weakness is its lack of validity. ... Patients with mental disorders deserve better.”


Kerri Farley said...

LOVE your flutter-by!

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Steve wonderful shots especially the last one. thanks for the info although i have a fixed lens!!

Steve Borichevsky said...

That means a great deal to me coming from you , Kerri.

Margaret, the Nikon 300mm f/4 ED-IF AF-S Nikkor Lens is also a fixed lens. I have the 70-300mm that I've used in the past, but the 300mm f/4, being a prime lens produces sharper images for me.

Roy Norris said...

We need to set up the BPA Steve.
Butterfly Photographer's Anonymous.
This post was a great fix thanks and beautiful images.

Brite Mist said...

but they are beautiful! Continue with this wonderful disorder!

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