Images of Butterflies Feeding

I recently purchased a set of Movo extension tubes for Nikon 1 and I went out today to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory to do a bit of fieldwork for my corresponding review. In the process of doing that work I was able to capture some unusual images that I thought I’d share with readers in advance of my extension tube review.

As many of you know I like to push things a bit from time to time and after a bit of shooting at the Conservatory I decided to link all three Movo Extension tubes together (10mm, 16mm, 21mm) to see what would happen. Well…it ended up being quite an interesting couple of hours and I was able to capture a few images of butterflies feeding.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 86mm, efov 233mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-2800
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 86mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-2800, Movo extension tubes

The tightly wound tongue of a butterfly unfurls into a good length just before it begins to feed as you can see in the above image.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 97mm, efov 262mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-1600, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 97mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-1600, Movo extension tubes

It can be a bit of a challenge to capture butterflies inserting their tongues down inside a flower as the action happens very quickly and the butterflies are often fluttering about quite rapidly while feeding. As they land their tongues dart out and down into their target flower.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110m, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-6400, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110m, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-6400, Movo extension tubes

Sometimes they keep their wings beating aggressively which can necessitate a bit faster shutter speed.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 62mm, efov 166mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-1250, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 62mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-1250, Movo extension tubes

It helps to try to anticipate the movements of a butterfly on a flower as some of the more interesting images tend to be front views of them feeding.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 69mm, efov 186mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-2500, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 69mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-2500, Movo extension tubes

I was able to capture a few images of nectar and pollen on their tongues as you can see in the image above, and in the one below.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 90mm, efov 242mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-6400, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 90mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-6400, Movo extension tubes

Luck was with me a couple of times and the odd butterfly was reasonably calm and stationary when feeding which allowed me to capture some additional images as you can see in the series below.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-4000, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-4000, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-4000, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-4000, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-4500, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-4500, Movo extension tubes

On rare occasions a butterfly will spend up to 10 seconds on a single flower bud with their tongues fully inserted inside. At times it almost looks like an additional leg.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 77mm, efov 208mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO-2000, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 77mm, f/7.1, 1/100, ISO-2000, Movo extension tubes

I tried as best I could to get some natural side lighting on some of the subject butterflies as it can add a bit of drama to an image as you can see in the photograph below.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-1100, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-1100, Movo extension tubes

In the image below you can see how the butterfly’s tongue retracts with the nectar and pollen attached to it.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, efov 297mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-1000, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 110mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-1000, Movo extension tubes

Using extension tubes with Nikon 1 gear is a great way to get some ‘up close and personal’ images of butterflies.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 94mm, efov 252mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-1100, Movo extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, 94mm, efov 252mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-1100, Movo extension tubes

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12 thoughts on “Images of Butterflies Feeding”

  1. Question, is the f stop the “real” or effective f stop? Just stating that the objects would’ve being more in-focus, increased depth of field, if the f stop would’ve been narrower, smaller, when doing macro work, correct me if I’m wrong. Yes I do know about refraction, but sometimes the compromise is necessary. IMHO, some of the butterfly images would of benefited from more features being in focus. BTW you nailed that last one, good work.

    1. Hi Ernesto,

      The f-stops quoted in the article are the actual settings used based on the EXIF data supplied by my Nikon 1 V2’s. I agree that some of the images could have benefited from more depth-of-field, especially given the strong magnification-type of effect of the extension tubes. As you know there is always a trade off when trying to select the right combination of aperture/ISO/shutter speed. Given the small sensor size and pixel density of the CX sensor I typically shoot my Nikon 1 gear at a maximum of f/5.6 to avoid diffraction. At f/8 diffraction becomes noticeable on Nikon 1 gear and by f/11 images are basically unusable for my purposes.

      I’ll be sharing a few more butterfly images in my upcoming hands-on review of the Movo extension tubes.

      Tom

  2. Tom,

    Thank you again for the wonderful V2 close up’s. I always look forward to your expert work.

    I have also been looking at the extension tubes you mention here and look forward to your findings. I too was using the Vello tubes (which they replaced without question after the flanges gave up) and hope to replace them with metal mounts.

    You recently did an article on small sensor cameras in lo light which I am unable to find to read again. Could you please point me to it so I can look at it again.

    Thank you again for your generous sharing of time and talent. You are truly special.

  3. 2nd Question: Not mentioned in the article were the focus settings you used. If you get a chance, would you please provide?

    Thanks, WEJ.

  4. What great subjects and images! The macro work you do is very impressive – seems the subjects are fine with your proximity as well. This very likely due to the tasty nectar they are getting.

    Mike

    1. Hi Mike,
      Thanks for the positive comment – much appreciated! Some of the butterflies were a lot more skittish to have me really close to them than others. The ones that were a bit more static allowed me to use slower shutter speeds…the more skittish ones were much harder to capture as I had to focus very quickly and grab my shot before they flew off. You’ll be able to tell those images as the shutter speeds are higher – around 1/500.
      Tom

  5. Question: For example, look at the last picture. You listed the lens as being set at 94mm (efov 252mm). It would seem to me that the 252 value is based just upon the lens setting, and does not include the effective amount added by using the extension tubes. Am I correct in this? If so, by adding the tubes, what would the real efov be?

    1. Hi William,

      Thanks for the great question! Yes, you are correct, the efov is based on the 2.7X crop factor of the Nikon 1 format and does not include the effect of the extension tubes. I’m working on my review of the Movo extension tubes and part of what I am investigating relates to your question…so I hope to have some additional information on this for you.

      Thinking about this a bit more I decided to remove the efov on the EXIF data as it may prove more confusing rather than helpful for readers. Since the article features images shot at, or close to, the minimum focusing distance of some zoom lenses focus breathing can come into play and the efov really becomes a moot issue.

      Tom

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