Wild Monarch Butterflies In Flight

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had the opportunity to get out in my backyard a few times to photograph some wild monarch butterflies in flight. This short article shares some of the hand-held images that I’ve been able to capture. At this point I’m still experimenting with technique.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-5000, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.9 metres

During my time-limited photo sessions I often used a fast shutter speed as I was also attempting to photograph some bees in flight. When trying to photograph wild monarch butterflies in flight one needs to work very quickly as the butterflies are quite skittish.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-5000, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.9 metres

I chose a particular part of one of our flower beds that was attracting the monarchs on a frequent basis. It was also important to select a shooting angle that gave me good light as well as a decent background.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.9 metres

The monarch butterflies would only land on a blossom for a couple of seconds. I’d have to quickly frame my image, acquire focus, then half depress my shutter release to engage the E-M1X’s Pro Capture mode.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-5000, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.9 metres

The minimum focusing distance on the M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 Pro zoom lens is fairly short. This allowed me to get in reasonably tight to the subject butterflies while still allowing some flight room in my compositions.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-1000, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.9 metres

When the monarch butterflies took flight from the blossom I fully depressed my shutter release. This locked in the images that had been spooling in memory with the Pro Capture mode, as well as giving me a few additional frames.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-800, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.7 metres

Photographing wild monarch butterflies in flight can be challenging since the flight paths they take are unpredictable. If the butterflies flew either directly away, or straight at me, they would almost immediately go out of focus. This made many Pro Capture runs basically unusable.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-800, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.7 metres

Over the next few weeks I’m planning to do more experimentation photographing wild monarch butterflies in flight, and fine tuning my technique. Shutter speed and aperture will be two settings with which I will be making adjustments. Hopefully my back-ordered MC-20 teleconverter will arrive soon. I’d like to see how that piece of gear can be used for this subject matter.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 40-150 mm f/2.8 PRO @ 150 mm, efov 300 mm, f/2.8, 1/8000, ISO-800, Pro Capture mode, subject distance 1.7 metres

The Pro Capture mode in the Olympus OM-D E-M1X and E-M1 Mark II is an outstanding feature to use for this type of photography.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held using camera equipment as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.

How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to tom@tomstirr.com through PayPal.

As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store.

Article and all images are Copyright 2019 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

2 thoughts on “Wild Monarch Butterflies In Flight”

  1. Very enjoyable images of the Monarch Butterfly! The practice with the Olympus gear is not only a pleasure to experience but rewarding when the photos are viewed. Hopefully the 2x teleconverter will arrive soon so you can experiment with birds in flight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *