27 June 2011

Butterfly Portraits - Long Banded Silverline

Butterfly Portraits
Long Banded Silverline (Spindasis lohita senama)

Canon 1D MkIII fill-flashed with Speedlight 580EXII ; Tamron 180mm f/3.5 ; ISO640 ; f/9, Manual Mode, partial control of ambient light with flash as main source ; Handheld

Some years back, when I first encountered the Long Banded Silverline, I mistook the tail end for the head of the butterfly! It was later when reviewing my shots on my computer, that I came to realise I was fooled. The number of the specimens with missing tails encountered in the field attested to the success of this strategy in confusing potential predators.

The next time I saw this species again, I was awestruck by the magnificent brown and lustrous blue upperside of a basking male I had chanced upon under the noon sun. The upper and lower surface of the species are dramatically different in their markings and colours, illustrating clearly that there are always two sides of the story to a butterfly's appearance, the upperside and the underside.

The Long Banded Silverline has a preference for certain locations and vegetation, and is rather local in distribution. The males of the species are very territorial and will challenge any intruder into its claimed territory. The ensuing dog fight is fast and furious, and at times, can last up to 2 minutes.

It was a rather hot and windy day when I arrived at the site that I have been visiting frequently for a couple of years. As I had intended to shoot the beautiful upper wing surfaces of the male of the species, I had timed my arrival slighty ahead of its known basking time. As if by clockwork, at the regular basking time, the pristine male that I was tracking dutifully opened its spectacular wings to sunbathe in the warm afternoon sun. Within minutes, I had accomplished what I wanted shoot of the upperside of this butterfly.

The more you learn and know about butterfly behaviour, the easier it is for you to head out on location and take the shots you are after, instead of merely leaving it to luck.

ButterflyCircle Photographer : Sunny Chir, a retired Air Force pilot in his early 60's