I have quite a few good butterfly shots in reserve for future Photo of the Week posts, but I want to keep things nice and varied, so I’m only going to be posting one every few weeks. Since it’s been over a month since I shared a butterfly shot, I figure it might be time to share another.

This is a shot that I had been chasing for over a year when I finally managed to captured it last month. The Common Blue butterfly (Polyommatus icarus) is very small, and very camera shy, but also very beautiful. The male’s back is plain electric blue, which is pretty spectacular, but the female takes things to a whole new level, having a beautiful mix of browns, blues, and oranges on her back. The patterns at the tips of her wings are both intricate and beautiful. Many people consider this the most colourful Irish butterfly, though I disagree, I think that honour should go to the Peacock Butterfly. Regardless of whether or not it’s the most colourful butterfly, it’s certainly one of the most beautiful.

The best chance you’ll get to capture the back of these fine lady’s wings is in the evening time. As the wind falls and the sun gets low in the sky, you’ll sometimes find them sun-bathing on top of tall stalks of grass or wild flowers like thistles with their wings open. If you approach very slowly and very carefully with a long enough lens you have a chance of getting off a good shot. I took this one on a beautiful still and clear summer evening along the banks of the Royal Canal near Deey Bridge and the 13th lock with my 55-200mm zoom zoomed in all the way to 200mm.

Common Blue Butterfly (Polyommatus icarus)
on FlickrFull-Size

  • Camera: Nikon D40
  • Lens: Nikon DX AFS 55-200mm
  • Exposure: 1/400 sec
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Focal Ratio: f/8
  • ISO: 400
  • Camera Mode: Aperture Priority
  • Exposure Bias: -0.7ev
  • Processing: This shot was tweaked a little using Aperture’s Dodge & Burn plugin to selectively add brightness, contrast, and saturation to the butterly