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 Papilio demetrius Butterfly (female)

Papilio demetrius Butterfly (female)

Black or dark butterflies are often difficult to photograph because dark colours absorb light and do not show detail well. Fortunately in this species there is enough green and blue speckling to show the feint patterning in the wing structure.

Not as pleasing as the picture of the male here, this picture is rather messy with the dead flowers on the leaf at lower left, and the butterfly's colouring is not as pronounced - possibly an older specimen.

Photographed on my first visit to the Ashurst Butterfly Farm on the edge of the New Forest.

Canon AE1 with one small Vivitar 255 flashgun in the hot shoe. The direct, single-source lighting gives overly bright highlights on the leaf, and a jet-black background. Not ideal, but flash was necessary to freeze the butterfly -- and at that time one flashgun was all I had. Now I would use either two/three flashguns on swan-neck arms or a Twin Lite macro flash gun (two lamps that clip on to the lens) to provide side lighting and shadow-fill. (See Equipment page.)