As the summer peaks over the Lowveld, an intense humidity spikes and conditions turn favourable for viewing butterflies.
I enjoy taking a casual walk through my local botanical garden, the Lowveld National Botanical Garden. Usually my focus is birding and with each visit I hope to tick off something new on my growing list. A recent visit proved extremely quiet on the birding front. With hardly a bird in sight, I had to move on to a slightly greater challenge.
Admittedly I have not spent a great deal of time focusing on butterflies. My first real introduction to the field was when I attended my field guiding course. One of the trainers was a butterfly specialist and his knowledge and enthusiasm awakened an interest in the field.
Some of my earliest memories spent with butterflies are running around on the school play field chasing these flying insects, wondering how they can dodge me with those tiny wings.
As I walked through the gardens I noticed a specific flower dominating a certain section of the flower beds. I was sure that any nectar that the flower contained would attract some butterflies. I found a comfortable spot and waited patiently hoping that a beautiful butterfly would land on the flower in front of me.
If birding taught me any patience, photographing butterflies certainly would teach me tenfold more. Butterflies fluttered by and landed on every flower except on the ones I was positioned at.
I quickly accepted that sitting and waiting was not going to cut it. I got up and maneuvered around the flowers the best I could. There were so many factors I had to take into account while photographing these butterflies. They kept moving in and out of the shade, affecting the light metering. A slight breeze kept moving the flowers which made focusing frustrating. Each butterfly species seemed to have a slightly different way in which they approached and landed on a flower. The amount of time each species spent at each flower varied greatly too.
Even though the technical aspects of photographing these subjects proved a little challenging, viewing them remained a great deal of fun.
I noticed quite a few butterflies intertwined in their mating embrace. What was most fascinating is not how they managed to hold on to each other, but that they also managed to fly together in this fashion.
As the seasons start to change and different plants, flowers and fruits dominate the various landscapes, I look forward capturing the diverse splendor that these butterflies offer freely.