My butterfly macro photography tips for beginners

I have some tips for all of you that have just started to do macro photography of insects. I want to share what I have learned a few days ago when I was going to shoot some butterflies.

It is very hard to get close to these beautiful and colorful little creatures without scaring them off. My first mistake was that I have always tryed to get close to them. I followed them until they sit on some flower and then I have been trying to photograph them while they feed. That is wrong. With macro lens you need to get very close to them very fast, so when they see something going in their way very fast, it is natural that they will fly away.

What you need to do is let them come to you. How? It is very easy. When you arrive to your shooting place. A meadow full of butterflies. Sit for a while and observe. Watch carefuly what butterflies do. If you watch how they behave, you will see that they all behave very similiar. Certain species comes to certain flowers so all you need to do is to find out which species come to which flowers. And then sit very close to those flowers with your camera and macro lens ready to shoot. After a while, they will come to you, because they will adapt to you being so close to flowers where they come to feed them self. Try and you will see.

I've taken about hundred shots in just one hour on just one bunch of flowers. So I have practicaly sitting whole time and seen some interresting insects and bugs beside butterflies. I saw a spider catching a fly, I saw white and red ladybugs, and some strange flies...all of them feeding from this specific bunch of flowers. Amazing.

Photo that you see is my first butterfly catch ever, so I desided to upload this image here on Dreamstime. Image is accepted and I wanted to share my expirience with you. This photo is taken handheld with my Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG macro lens, but I also recommend using a tripod, which I did on my second butterfly shooting, and manage to get more sharper images. Thanks for reading and I hope this will help some of you macro beginners.

Photo credits: Mario Čehulić.

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Yeah...for me manual focus in macro photography is only and most precise way to focus on subjects.


Good tips! Last time I tried to capture some butterflies I thought I had all of these great shots only to see later that they were all autofocused on the flowers and not the butterflies - none were any good.


Thanks, please give it a will see...once you capture a butterfly, you will want more, and more, and more :))))...just remember, dont run for them...they will come to you ;)


Great blog. I'm not usually one for nature or wildlife photography but your blog is very inspiring and I'm now tempted to give it a go. Thanks.


And here is another one with same technique I have described on my first post. I have taken this photo two days after in same way like my first image. Today this one got aprooved by DT, so here it is. Same location, same technique, but I have used a tripod for this one. First one is handheld.

   Lycaena Phlaeas butterfly   

And just to say, that just 5 more aprooval until my 50 online images :)


Thanks Suebmtl and smartview27


Beautiful colors ! Thanks for sharing .


Very interesting


Thx Snamfoto...and it is manualy focused, just like you have said in one of your blog posts :)


Very beautifully, colourfully and brightly.


Hope you will have some use of this tips...greetings from Croatia!!


Thank you for sharing:)


Thanks people


Thanks for sharing!!!


Thanks for sharing!!!!


Thanks Karenfoleyphotography :)


Thanks for the tips. I love butterflies and yours is beautiful!


I agree with you Unteroffizier...patience is what you need in macro photography :)


The tip is to blend into their environment. Let them 'think' that you are part of their world, the nature. You can get tons of good photos in a day, while some other days youmay get non at all. But not to worry, if you rush into macro photography, you wil miss out on all the enjoyments you can have working with nature.


Thanks people. Exactly what Joezachs is saying...I have learn a lot about insects and their behaviour in nature on my process of learning about photography these few months when I have started. Whole new amazing world.


Very nice shot, thanks for sharing your tips


Thanks for sharing, nice blog and beauty image,congrats!


The most beautiful thing about photography is that you get to learn and respect nature in the process of your shooting. That is exactly what you have done in that one hour of patiently waiting there.


Thanks for sharing this great info.


Good tips, and great images. I love your dragonfly shots, I find they are difficult to capture, they move at such a speed! :)

Thanks Scottysally2. Dragonflies really are very difficult to capture. You really need a lot of patience with them. I specially love to take macro shots of dragonflies and jumping spiders. For dragonflies is best to have larger macro lens that is possible...180mm is just perfect, but those lens are expensive...but one day, I hope I will get that lens :)

Damselflies are little easier to catch as you can get pretty close to them, but dragonflies are tough ones to shoot so I am really glad you like my photos.


Thanks people :)


Thank you for the tips!


Fantastic images and nice tip! :)


Thanks for sharing! It´s very interesting.


Stunning image, thanks for the tips, Im looking to buy a macro lens :-)

Thanks, then I will recommend you minimum 90mm lens. Or even more if you can afford. I would like to have Sigma 180mm macro lens. This is amazing lens with great working distance which is very important if you want to shoot insects and not scare them off. So start with at least 90 or 100mm if you can afford.

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