How to Shoot Butterflies….With a Camera

20 Feb

A Life to Live

Melody Hendrix



Since people who love butterflies and would like to photograph them, are all at different skill levels, I am going to talk about two shooting methods. One for those who like to just point and shoot or use a cell phone and one for those who are advanced and like to shoot with manual controls.

First there are a few basic things that can greatly improve your butterfly pictures either way you shoot.

Take lots of pictures. When you find a butterfly, keep shooting until it flies away. This gives you the best odds of having at least one good one.

Start shooting from far away. Each step closer is a better and better shot.

Move in slowly as not to alarm the butterfly. You can crop later. Cropping is the finishing touch. There are a lot of simple software programs to use to crop, straighten, adjust exposure, sharpen and enhance. You can do this right in your camera in some models.

Getting a good sharp focus is one of the most difficult of achievements. Here are some tips to help with that:

The cameras now truly have artificial intelligence and usually do a great job. Most of the time, auto is a good choice, especially if you are doing a video clip. One thing I want to mention about videos is that no matter how good the video looks, if the camera is moving around, the video cannot be enjoyed. So be as steady as possible. Use a mono pod if you don’t have steady hands.

If you are taking still pictures, try using your macro mode (flower icon) if you can get close to a feeding butterfly on a flower. Some cameras can give you great closeups. You can even get a macro lens kit for your cell phone. They are not expensive and work pretty well.

If you are shooting a very active butterfly try using your scene mode – Action/Sports (or something similar)

Zoom in. Zooming in will help you get closer and also blur the background (shallow depth of field). It will also help the flash to be at a distance so it doesn’t wash out your subject. Zooming will also help you cut out distracting things surrounding your subject.

Use your flash. The more light the faster your shutter speed will be to stop motion. Check your shot and make sure the flash doesn’t white out your subject.

You can tape a little piece of white paper over your flash as a diffuser. This takes away the harshness of the flash and gives you soft light.

Using the flash in bright sunlight seems odd, but it helps to even out the light.

If a butterfly is in the sun and a shadow is next to it, position yourself so the shadow is behind the butterfly. Having a dark background will make the butterfly pop. Having a flower, nice greenery, distance (blurry background) or even the sky is also a nice background.

Sometimes instead of waiting for the perfect picture to just happen, you can create one.

Buy a nectar juicy potted plant (Milkweed, Penta, etc). After buying one, hose it down to remove pesticides and hydrate the plant. The more moisture, the more nectar. Find a nice background or shadow and place the plant there. The direction of the sun can help or hinder your shot.

Check out how the light looks.

It’s best to position the plant so light is coming from behind you. Have your camera on a tripod, bean bag or a secure place to set the camera. Have everything lined up and ready, and wait for your subject to land. Have a drink, a snack and some patience handy.

Here is my little secret.

Put a drop of red Gatorade on the flower. Once your subject discovers it, it should stay a while as most butterflies love it, giving you a perfect photo op. Keep shooting until it flies away.

Handholding the camera is probably the easiest way to shoot, but harder to get sharp pictures unless you have a steady hand. Just before you push the shutter button, watch the screen to detect any movement, hold your breath and gently, without moving the camera, press down on the shutter button. Try not to let the camera move downward as you press. Re-focus (press shutter button half way down) and shoot again. Keep camera as still as possible. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Butterflies are cold blooded and need the warmth of the sun to allow it’s body to move freely. It will sit and wait to not only warm up, but to dry out from the morning dew. This may be a good opportunity to check the bushes for one. They will be sleepy and sluggish. You may even get one with some dew drops.

Shoot butterflies at different angles. Shoot them at eye level or slightly below. This reveals it’s face and body. It is more personal and shows more detail of it’s eyes and personality. Or shoot straight down and wait for it to open it’s wings to see color and patterns. Shoot a wide scene showing flowers and landscape as part of the picture.

There are many butterfly conservatories around Florida. This is such a fun opportunity to get many kinds, colors and shapes of butterflies. The light inside is usually diffused and butterfly subjects are everywhere. Look online for the one nearest you.

Truly the very best pictures you will ever get is when the butterfly first emerges from it’s chrysalis and sit’s pretty, waiting for it’s wings to dry. You can have your way with them and get stunning pictures.

Advanced shooting with DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera with interchangeable lenses

Control your shutter speed: Your shutter speed are exposure settings that determines how quickly a photograph is taken. There are different ways of doing that. I prefer these camera settings that have worked out the best for me.

ISO – at least ISO 400. If your camera can handle noise well, you can use ISO 640-800. If the exposure is too bright go back to ISO 400.

Aperture – f6.3 – f8

focus – single point focus

Metering – SPOT meter is very important. This will allow you to pinpoint exposure of just the butterfly. You can even shoot into the sun with the spot meter on the butterfly. It makes a unique back lit image. Use your diffused flash to brighten it’s body, or no flash to create a silhouette image with a silver lining.

Light – Use a diffuser over the flash. Try setting your flash to high, but adjust your exposure compensation to -3. This will lessen the brightness on the butterfly and darken the background. Zooming in will also help soften the harshness of the flash. Try using a light ring. This works best with a captured butterfly. You can buy a light box. Set up your scene and put your butterflies in. This is for crazy must get a perfect shot people like me. haha

Photographing butterflies can be addictive. You must have patience and though you don’t have to have special equipment to get good butterfly pics, having the right equipment can greatly improve your pictures if you have a passion for butterflies and you are going to be taking a lot of them.

Below is an educational video I made to ID many Florida butterflies photographed in my yard and Oviedo Lucas Butterfly Conservatory.





I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.

Pencil Sharpeners

19 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites



I hear they have

Electric pencil sharpeners now

Bzzz and the point is made

When I was bored in grade-school

To amuse myself

I walked up front to the pencil sharpener

With my yellow number two.

Didn’t know there was another kind

Of pencil in the world

Nowadays I love to art

I have rainbows and lollipops of color in stick form

Inktense, watercolor, wax pastels,

Crayons, and colored pencils

Too many art supplies

But that’s because

Artists are art-store junkies

All my color sticks need to be

Sharpened periodically

I have many hand sharpeners

But for a tough job such as

A colored pencil with

A broken off head

I open to the secret on the linen closet wall

And hand grind the wood away

To expose the purple underneath

For stroking highlights into books,

Especially Holy Bibles on gossamer thin

Paper with light-catching golden edges.


18 Feb


Judy Wills




Seems like I’ve written before about peacocks. I remember my mother telling me that my grandmother had peacocks in her yard in San Antonio, Texas.



I remember her telling me that one time I was sitting on the steps of the back of Granny’s house, eating a peanut butter sandwich. Mom and Granny heard me let out a shriek and they came running. Apparently that peacock wanted my sandwich as much as I did, and he had just snatched it out of my hands! Naughty bird!

I have always loved to watch peacocks. Their sound is so unique – almost like a child crying. I love their beautifully colored feathers. Perhaps that’s why I developed a distinct love of the color turquoise. That, of course, turned into a love of all things turquoise in jewelry. It didn’t hurt that there is a LOT of turquoise jewelry around New Mexico, where I grew up. I still have a lot of it, and enjoy wearing it. I have some pieces that are quite unique and beautiful, and I always receive compliments on the jewelry when I do wear it.

In any case – back to peacocks. I remember as a child that, when we went to visit Granny and Aunt Jessie in San Antonio, we always went to the zoo. It is an amazing zoo.



I remember riding the elephant there (please see my post of June 9, 2013 – The Elephant Walk). But I especially remember hearing the peacocks crying.



This picture shows something amusing about this beautiful bird – they know they are beautiful and love to find their reflection wherever they can! This was taken at the San Antonio zoo.

We’ve seen some peacocks at Disney’s Animal Kingdom a few times, and enjoyed seeing and hearing them. We haven’t seen them recently, but are told they are still in the park – just not where we are accustomed to seeing them.

Most recently, we joined our daughter, Karen and her husband, Brian, on a visit to Winter Garden, Florida for a few hours. Brian drove us to a lake, where he had heard there were peacocks. We were pleased to see some. Here are a few pictures that we took of them.



What amused us the most about this bird, is that he seemed to see his reflection in the shiny black surface of the car! He kept walking around and looking. He never tried to “peck” at the “other bird,” but he was certainly admiring himself. Unfortunately, he never spread his tail feathers – which is a joy to see.

I asked Brian if he had ever seen a peacock in flight, and he said no. I had recently seen a collection of pictures of peacocks in flight. Here are a few of them. They are truly amazing! I thought that, with that long tail, either that they could not fly, or were flightless birds. Wrong on both counts. I searched Google and found these:


Credit Google search and boredpanda – Image credits: reddit

Credit Google search and boredpanda – Image credits: imgur

Credit Google search and boredpanda – Image credits: Chandrashekar Badami


They are truly magnificent birds. Enjoy the pictures!


How do I calm my heartache?

17 Feb

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles






How do I calm my heartache?

Reblogged February 17, 2018

Stop crying. That’s enough! It wasn’t that bad. Stop it now.

These are words others used to calm my little granddaughter’s cries after a scraped knee.

Have a Different Approach

Being the wise grandma I try to be, I have a different approach. I scoop her up in my arms. Hold her tight, and keep her close. Without saying a word, I rock her gently back and forth.  I don’t let her go. Her sobs subside. I still hold her tight, while back and forth I rock her. Her body relaxes and she settles in my arms, content as can be.

How do I know that approach works?

God Holds us Close

God did the same with me. When an unthinkable tragedy broke my heart and shook my world, He held me close. He didn’t give instructions. He just held me close. He didn’t command I stop my cries. He just held me close. Soon, His promises swept over me like a wave of warm water in a cold day.

Should more scrapes to my heart occur, I know to be still and let Him hold me because “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18 ).

Let’s Pray

Father, how loving of you to care for us in such a tender way. Your comfort has no match. And your power to heal holds no conditions. When heartache invades my life, knowing You’re ready to hold me tight shines reassurance in me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

  • What hurts in you today?
  • How long will you hold on to the pain?
  • What will it take for you to be still and allow Him to hold you close and calm your heart?


Did you know I wrote a book filled with words of encouragement, uplifting thoughts and illustrations of real-life triumph to empower you? Its title, Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life. You can get it HERE.

CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.



Road Trip~ Pagosa Springs Night Glow

15 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis


Day 10, September 16, 2017- Evening

In my last post, Pagosa Springs-Color Fest   I shared a lot of pictures from the balloon ascent. We were all thrilled with the event as we returned to the condo.  A minor mishap with one of the toilets required a call to the front desk and someone was quickly dispatched to fix it. Shortly after the repairman left, the phone in the condo rang. Pam, the timeshare owner picked up the phone and we began laughing and chanting “Just say no.” Timeshares are famous for trying to upsell when you visit their properties and Pam sometimes has moments of weakness.

When she hung up the phone, we were surprised and skeptical to hear that she had won a prize basket that included two free tickets to Night Glow, an event with music, beer tasting and balloon illumination. We joked about it being an oops gift due to the toilet incident and that when she went to collect, they would try to sell her something.

To our shock, the gift was legit! “Here’s your gift, enjoy.” Now we had two tickets with unlimited beer tasting and none of us drank beer!  We decided, what the heck and went to the event that evening with two of us purchasing at the gate non-beer tasting tickets.

We didn’t know what to expect. There was a tent with a stage and chairs for the audience and  performers were singing. The music was loud so we opted to sit at one of the randomly scattered picnic tables while we scoped the area, trying to figure out what to expect.


I bought some delicious sweet kettle corn.

There is a story with this picture and why it was cropped, but I’m not telling. Maybe the look on Rebekah’s face will give you a clue.


Rebekah talking with Pam who is not pictured.

As we waited for the balloons to arrive, I checked out the food options. There were not a lot of choices and I chose a vendor selling beef brisket sandwiches. I bought one, hoping it would be large enough to share with my husband.  The vendor must have been doing a lot of business as they were out of napkins and forks. The funny thing is they were still selling people coleslaw! The brisket sandwich was out of this world delicious, the meat thick and juicy. I have been frequently  hankering for brisket since then, but none has compared well to what we ate that night.

The first balloon arrived and I was surprised to note how compact it was and it easily fit in the back of a truck.



After our supper, the aroma of kettle corn began to drive me crazy. I decided we needed some to snack on as we waited on the balloons. The line was long and by the time I returned to our table several had been inflated.



To my delight, one of the balloons was positioned next to our table. The balloonist was so kind to the small children and hoisted them up to sit in the basket. One young fella spent a long time there and was given the privilege of pulling on the gas burner to shoot flames up into the balloon.



To end the evening, the band synchronized the music with the balloons and put on a breathing taking show of flaming and glowing balloons.




I’m so glad Pam won the tickets. We didn’t know about this event and would have missed making a memory that I will treasure.

PS: In case anyone is wondering what happened to the free beer that was included with Pam and Rebekah’s ticket, they upgraded for a glass of wine.


The Love Secret

14 Feb

Florida Butterflies~Hairstreak Butterflies

13 Feb

A Time to Live

Melody Hendrix



The Gray hairstreak (Strymon melinus) is one of the most common lycaenids in North America. Its larvae feed on the fruits and flowers of a variety of host plants including several species. Gray hairstreaks do not prefer one specific habitat. They are widespread in tropical forests and open, temperate woodland areas. They can also be found in meadows, crop fields, neglected roadsides, and residential parks and yards are often homes of this fascinating and rare butterfly. Its larvae feed on the fruits and flowers of a variety of host plants including several species mallows, members of the pea family, buckwheats, clovers, and many other plants.
In Florida, the most common hairstreaks are the “Gray Hairstreak”
The adults are quick fliers and are seen most often between the months of May and September. The larvae of gray hairstreaks, when abundant, can become pests to commercial crops, including cotton, beans, corn, and hops.
Habits such as these have earned the caterpillar the common name of “cotton square borer” and “bean lycaenid”. However, I love spotting Hairstreaks in the garden.
The are small and fly fast, but once you focus your eyes on them you’ll see their delightful display of confusing preditors, by rubbing their hind wings together in the typical fashion of most hairstreaks.
This back-and-forth movement makes the tail like extensions on the hindwings look like anntennae, apparently to fool predators into attacking a less vital part of their body. They like to bask in the sun with their head down and hindwings up with it’s false antenae in motion. Below are two videos showing the motion of the wings.
Another very different looking hairstreak is the “Atala” butterfly (Coontie Hairstreak)   Scientific name: Satyrium pruni
Some hairstreaks don’t have tails like the gray hairstreak butterfly. The Atala butterfly is also called the Coontie butterfly because the Coontie plant is it’s host plant.
Sunshine State gardeners have rediscovered the Florida coontie as a native plant well adapted to Florida yards. Its increased use in landscapes has encouraged the presence of the rare atala butterfly. This is such a beautiful and unusual looking butterfly. Even the caterpillars are unusual looking. To me they look like pretty gummy candy.
There are many many different hairstreak butterflies in Florida, some common, some rare and many endangered.
Next week we will look at a few more butterflies and a few more ways to photograph them , then off to another adventure. I’m not sure what yet, but it will be a surprise to even me.




I am retired and enjoying life. My hobbies are my 5 grandchildren, son and daughter, and my loving husband. I am a photographer and extreme nature lover. I love spending time in my garden or in the wilderness connected to God my Creator.

Dog Saturday

12 Feb

My Take

DiVoran Lites




Morning Dogs:

We walked into Lowe’s not expecting dogs
One tiny old and disabled Pekinese on a blanket in a buggy
One terrier carried by a young man
With an old man’s long scraggly beard
He shows the on-off light on the dog’s collar
This is for when he goes out at night
It’s for in case a hawk or some other creature
Of the night tries to get him.
Course we might just see the light lifting
And what will we do then?


They let people bring dogs to Lowes now?
Yes, Walmart too especially service dogs
This one keeps me calm
I wonder if the young man
Has PTSD…an acronym for shell shock or
Battle fatigue. Or is he kidding?
Next, he says: they threw us out of a
dollar-type store.
I told ‘em they didn’t have to yell,
Just tell me quietly.
But back to Walmart.
They won’t allow dogs in the buggies
They say they ain’t sanitary
But what about babies in dirty diapers
Are they sanitary?
I bathe my dog once a week
Whether she needs it or not
I never take her into restaurants.
But his wife was already moving on
And I had lost my Will of the Wisp husband,
Somewhere in another part of the store.


Afternoon dogs:

Walking the trail I hear deep, heartfelt baying
I figured hounds on the trail had a squirrel or
A raccoon run up a tree.
Small animals for such big dogs to chase
I rounded the corner and saw
A standoff. A man and a woman each
With a very large hound on a leash
And a mother far over on the trail
Hurrying past holding a terrier in one arm
And guiding her tiny daughter on her tiny
Tricycle with the other hand
I said to the mother as she passed
The woman was out for a pleasant walk with her dog and daughter
The hound couple were out for a pleasant walk with their hounds
When the woman and her charges were gone,
I asked what kind of dogs these were.
The man said, “Hounds” and pointed
That little dog barked first
The woman said this here one’s a lab/boxer mix
And that black one is a Blue Tick.
I waved and went on.
They came behind me but they had
To get off the trail for everyone who passed
When I came back up.
They were still coming down.
The Blue-Tick bayed at me in a different tone.
“Tell me all about it,” I said.
The man laughed, and then I hurried by.
It was a beautiful Saturday as I
Danced home to the sound of jazz.

God Will Never Let You Go

11 Feb


Judy Wills



A few weeks ago, I was reading the daily post from Pastor Rick Warren, and it touched my heart. He takes a scripture and just brings it to life, so that it means something to me on this day of my life.

One of the most important things that he said was this:

No matter how bad life gets, you can rest in one important truth: God won’t stop loving you.

Have you ever thought that God was just so far away from you that He had turned His back on you? That you thought you had done something so horrible that there was absolutely NO WAY that God could look at you and love you? If that is how you feel just remember:

No matter how bad life gets, you can rest in one important truth: God won’t stop loving you.

Pastor Rick quoted a scripture:

“I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are — high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean — nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us” (Romans 8:38-39 TLB).

Pastor Rick went on to say:

That truth should be one of the most important sources of joy in your life!
Isn’t that amazing? And he also went on to say something that just reached out and grabbed me:

But God won’t let go of you — ever. Once you put your hand in his, it’s there to stay.

That is a belief that I’ve held onto my entire life. While Pastor Rick says That’s an unimaginable source of joy for the believer, that is also one of the most important sources of hope (confidence) and strength in my life. I’ve experienced that hope (confidence) and strength in my own life – especially when I was going through cancer (please see my very first post, September 16, 2012, Safe).

God has never let me go – and I’m absolutely convinced that He never will


Three secrets to finding strength.

10 Feb

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

Janet Perez Eckles


His Way



Three secrets to finding strength.

Reblogged February 10, 2018 with permission


All banks closed. too bad. Airport shut down, that’s life. No water or electricity, sorry!

That was our hometown in Bolivia each time a revolution exploded. Not far from us, only blocks from where we lived. Now, they are but ugly memories from the past.


No Way Back

But recently, my good friend was in the middle of a similar political unrest. Her mission trip ended. Airports closed. Electricity and public services minimized. And she had no way to get back home to the States.

Until, a miracle shone through. A travel agency found one flight available. She boarded the plane and the crowded aircraft had a surprise for her. They bumped her to first class. She’s now home safe and sound.

Isn’t that like life? We’re going through each day, minding our own business. Being good, not bothering anyone. When suddenly a revolution of anxiety explodes in us—a diagnosis, a financial setback, a devastating situation, a chronic illness—all threaten to shut down the airport to peace. The bank where we find strength and energy is closed. And the electricity supply that had brightened our days is now off.

Three Secrets

But when we least expect it, God has a flight waiting. One seat available in the first class of His love. Here are three secrets to find strength until we board that plane:

  1. Know that it’s not us but He who pilots the aircraft that takes us to healing, solutions, and answers
  2. Accept the situation with gratitude as He is aware of every need. He collects every tear. He understands every sigh. And pours the grace we need for each moment.
  3. Turn a deaf ear to the enemy’s lies that whisper hopelessness, defeat and gloom. His lies are shut down with God’s promises that have resonated with hope through the ages.

So if you find yourself I the middle of a revolution of fear, know the Lord’s wings will cover you. You’ll not be defeated, fall or sink because “…they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Let’s Pray

Father, I confess I feel defeated in face of tough moments, unforeseen setbacks and unexpected heartache. But now I know I can wait upon you. I can wait in expectation that you will grant me the strength I don’t have. Hold me when I want to faint. And renew my strength to face each moment. In Jesus’s name, amen.

  • What struggles keep you in the revolution of fear?
  • What keeps you from believing He has the flight of rescue waiting for you?
  • What will you do while you wait for God to renew your strength?

Hey friends, if you want more inspiration drawn from my latest book, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta, come visit me at:



CLICK HERE for a one-minute inspirational video.


Hi friends, Janet is a gifted speaker who uses humor as she shares a message of hope and joy. She is a frequent speaker at women’s gatherings, retreats, church congregation or corporate events. Here are some of the TOPICS you can choose from.  If you are looking for a speaker for your Spring retreat, check out this video HERE.  You can also visit her home page. Janet Perez Eckles.comOnisha

-Source: Three secrets to finding strength. ~ Janet Perez Eckles

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