Chasing Summer

Ever since I first picked up a camera when I was 12 or so, I’ve displayed a tendency to chase pretty bugs with wings trying to still an instant so I could get a closer look. I wasn’t very good at it when I was 12, and I’m not really great at it now, but I have 2 things going for me that I didn’t have then – a compulsive persistence honed by decades of practice (or neuroses management, your call) and a digital camera with a zoom lens.

Now I can take dozens of images of a given butterfly without necessarily having to put myself within arm’s reach – a distinct advantage when you’re dealing with an insect whose spastic, high-speed flight path contains nothing akin to a straight line and can often swoop on a whim over the trees and out of your reach forever.  It also helps that I am finally learning something about butterfly behavior, so I can catch them in relative stillness while they’re feeding, sunning or puddling. But still, the skittish little suckers are fast and erratic and will often fling themselves out of my frame at the last second. So sometimes my butterfly hunts are reduced to photos of things that move much more slowly – like wildflowers.

Next to tropical fish and seashells and the feathers of peacocks, I always thought a butterfly’s wings are one of the most brilliant canvases nature has come up with – all of summer painted on a scaled wing, more exotic than the flowers they feed on. Once I started hunting, it was all about collecting (because that’s the nature of my particular compulsion), so I’m always chasing something I’ve never seen or caught (or a better shot of one I have).

Here are a few of my favorites.

Tiger Swallowtail

Black Swallowtails

Common Buckeye




Gulf Fritillary

Long-tailed Skipper

When I’m not quick enough

Black female tiger swallowtail.

Red-spotted Purple and a Viceroy.


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  1. mthew

     /  June 19, 2012

    Luscious! Especially that Gulf Fritillary, a species I’m a little too far north to run into.

    • Thanks! I’m too far north for that particular fritillary too. I took that one when I was visiting my parents Mississippi last fall. My mom has a great butterfly garden.

  2. great butterfly pics you should check out my blog i am uploading a pic of a bee tomorrow.

  3. You and I thought alike today – I did a post of Butterflies as well! Great shots!

  4. Amazing stuff!

  5. Beautiful mini mental vacation… thank you!

  6. How beautiful! And, yeah, you are pretty great at it.

  7. OMG – AMAZING Photos!!! Thanks for sharing the BEAUTY & Have a Great Day:)

  8. Great Pics! I too have chased insects. spiders butterflies, snakes since childhood. My best pics are. unfortunately on film and not digital, so sharing them is out for now. I’m looking into getting digital camera with an adapter for my old lenses etc..I know how to tell a male monarch from female-the male has the black scent gland on his hind wing-I know that female swallowtails often have a less brilliant coloring-but is there some other way to tell them apart? I do have a few new pics of a 3rd instar brown mantis with green eyes-so cute-maybe when I get my photos on disk….
    I used to have more gardens around-my own and others and therefore more butterflies, mantises etc…I used to mark and name mantises! This year, I have not seen a single monarch and only one fritillary, even with the proper flowers-maybe in July..that seems to bee a month when they lay eggs and caterpillar damage is seen. Nice work.

    • Sounds like you’re an avid bug hunter too! I definitely recomend the switch to digital. Makes things much easier and you can process your own images without having to set up a dark room. I love that. Hope you have more garden visitors in July.

  9. Beautiful shots! I like the blurred wing shot too. I always take photos of spiderwebs.. Not quick enough for the butterflies.

    • I love the blurry ones! Glad to hear someone else does, too. I actually have trouble with spider webs. They’re nice and stationary but tend to go invisible unless the light is right or they’re covered in dew.

  10. Wilma Milton

     /  June 19, 2012

    Absolutely marvelous, Tori. You have a gift. Thank you for sharing. Granny

  11. Oh, Tori, these are stunning images!

  12. LOVE your butterflies!! I especially love the description of the “spastic, high-speed flight path” — heh! I just took a bunch more flutterby shots yesterday, and that definitely suits when one is attempting to capture their brilliance (of course I’m smiling like a spaz myself, the entire time). 🙂 But I love the blurred movement images just as much as the still photos!

  13. Beautiful….love butterflies. You have such a good idea and take great shots.

  14. Oh my, these are absolutely stunning! Suitable for framing …. and selling, I might add!

  15. Gorgeous. Whether neurosis or compulsion, we get to benefit from it!

    • It does wonders for me. I get my fix of vitamin D, fresh air, sunshine, solitude, quiet, as well as plenty of stuff to chase with my camera.

  16. TimCC

     /  June 20, 2012

    It’s clear to see you’re at one with the subject. Lovely work.

  17. I’m impressed that you know all their names!

  18. Half the fun is looking them up when I get home!


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