Are you feeling the effects of the Daylight Saving switch? We are painfully aware of our circadian rhythms, struggling to get our sleep/wake cycles to jibe with the changed clock hands. Even if you’re among those who really struggle with this shift, your fatigue is hardly the grandest testament to the power of these rhythms. I think the migration of the Eastern Northern American monarch butterfly takes that honor.
Do you know that circadian clocks in the monarchs’ antennae tell them when it’s time to fly south to overwinter? As of this month, monarchs hailing from our side of the Rockies are sunning in Mexico. (I like to picture them sipping mojitos and margaritas). While these beauties winter south of the border—for the next many months—there’s no use talking today about how best to photograph them. But because Daylight Saving Time always brings them to mind, I thought I’d write about three photography lessons we can learn from them:
Mind the shadows
Butterflies don’t like to be in the shade. They prefer the sun. Accidentally cast your shadow on them, and off they go. Being careful where you cast your own shadow in any photograph is Photography 101. Don’t just think about keeping your shadow out of the frame. Think about how you can use it in the frame sometimes, too.
Butterflies are sensitive little buggers. If you’re impatient, you’re unlikely to get great shots not only of them but also of anything under the sun. Getting a good shot takes time, whether because you’re waiting for the right shot to appear (as with sports photography) or just trying to get your composition right (as with studio photography).
Change your perspective
Most people look for butterflies only out in the open, when in fact they’re often on the undersides of leaves. (They like to hang upside-down.) The best photographers don’t settle for only the obvious shots—the splendor of the storm cloud or the child blowing out birthday candles. They look harder at the world, look differently at the world, to capture the unexpected and overlooked.