Juniper Hairstreak (+ Repost)

Repost (above)

Original post (above)

Image Description

With this repost, I feel there is a need to make clear that the Image Description section refers to the first image I posted with the butterfly flipped upright instead upside down. By using the original Hairstreak position, I am now using a different title for the post. I tried to address some of the feedback I received in the various comments provided. It was interesting to note that the more I worked on the revisions, the more the original orientation with the butterfly upside down felt more comfortable to my eyes. Also, as a couple of you pointed out, the Hairstreak does nectar upside down. In my images, I try to maintain nature without changing it much. This attempt with the first submission proved I should have followed that procedure. There was a reason the Hairstreak was upside down. The cropping in this revision is 8.5x11, as suggested. I do like that format. I had to clone out some stray flowers on the left side of the image. Also in the URC, there were some very dark stems that kept bugging me. I attempted some cloning there in order to minimize the distraction. The dark and light pink colors are natural in rosebud flowers. I did apply some burn on a couple of petals that were too bright.

Spring weather has been around Texas since late February. Even some state flowers (Bluebonnets) were spotted along highways back then. During one of my walks with friends, I noticed that redbuds were also blooming very strongly in several locations. With the abundance and thick coverage those flowers bring, I set out to get a few macro images of them in early March. While doing that, I noticed a tiny Juniper Hairstreak butterfly in my viewfinder photobombing my original compositions. A firm believer in “embracing the moment,” I began following the butterfly as it quickly moved from flower to flower. Once I had noticed it, it was easy to follow because its color stood out among the pink of the redbud flowers. For those not familiar with the tiny creatures, with their wings wide open, this butterfly’s size is between 0.75" - 1.25" (1.9 cm - 3.1 cm). With its wings closed, as in this photo, the Juniper Hairstreak butterfly is barely the size of a dime (10-cent US coin, or 0.7" or 1.8 cm). It would have been impossible to even attempt multiple shots for focus stacking. This is a single macro image among several I made that day using a tripod. This was my preferred photo because the entire butterfly is mostly all in focus. With the butterfly nearly being perpendicular to the lens camera, and because of its small size, I was able to get almost the entire butterfly in the same focus plane. A small detail: this was all viewed upside down. No, not me, but the butterfly. :slight_smile: However, no matter how much I looked at the original composition, my eyes and head just could not wrap themselves around that inverted position. So, the image I have here is horizontally flipped. The original view is shown in Version 2.

Version 2 (original view)


Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.

  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

Here are four issues I often struggle with in my photos:

(1) Saturation - does it appear natural to your eyes?

(2) Cropping - is the butterfly placement appropriate in the frame? Is there enough room on the right side of the frame?

(3) Distractions - I tried to eliminate some very bright areas that were distracting. Did I miss anything that you find distracting?

(4) Sharpness - too much, too little?

Good way of expressing your feelings about the original, inverted version. I, too, have difficulty trying to get comfortable viewing it. I can’t seem to adjust to it. The saturation and cropping are fine with me, but there remain a couple distracting areas. Using version one there are dark marks in the upper left corner and on a petal near the lower left. Minor problems, but you indicated some removal of bright areas, so I thought you might like having these mentioned. Otherwise it is a beautiful image. The slightly out of focus ares of the butterfly do not bother me at all.

1 Like

Hi EgĂ­dio,

This is a really fresh looking Redbud and Hairstreak!
And it looks to have been flipped vertically as well :smiley:
Just kidding around, I obviously know what you meant, I didn’t “Have” to point that out but then again… “I just had to point that out” :smiley:

The color contrast is very appealing to me and the composition is well done.

How much did you crop?
And also for curiosity, how far away was the camera from the hairstreak?
I have a thought or two on DOF but not knowing the crop and the approximate distance make my thoughts null and void.
That said, I like the amount of DOF as presented. :slight_smile:

It’s a very nice spring image and a welcome feeling, seems this winter was longer than usual for me.


Thank you both, @Jim_Gavin and @Merv , for your thoughtful comments. I’ll try to address the points you raised.

Those two areas were naturally shaded. Is the lower one the petal around the middle or is it the one really low, almost in the LLC? I confess I did not think to dodge the natural shadows. I can see that doing so would certainly even out the color on the left side of the image. Done properly, it would not be distracting, as the natural shade seems to distract you. It’s something I’ll experiment with to see how it turns out. This redbud tree was really full of blooms. I’m sure that had I used some artificial light (e.g., a flash), I might have captured a more even color distribution. As for the slightly out-of-focus area of the butterfly, it seems I’d have needed a higher shutter speed to really stop the constant movement. 1/1250 s was not sufficient, it seems.

Thanks for the compliment on the composition. As for the cropping, I did not do much at all. You see the space between the butterfly’s end and the frame is half of what I cropped. I did the cropping because what was there would need to be cloned out. There were some extra blooms on that side of the frame. The area below the trunk was about twice the distance between the bottom of the butterfly and the lower frame.

Now, you’re pushing this old man’s memory. I was pretty close to it, probably 10-12 inches.

Once again, thank you both for your comments.

P.S.: I figured it’d be easier to simply upload the RAW file (in JPG format) prior to any edits.

Egidio, I just love this! Great flowers and great butterfly. Just two points: first, I actually prefer the upside-down original. The flowers look more like our redbuds do in Korea (not flowering yet), pointing/hanging down. Second, I think the slightly oof tip of the forewing is because of your f11 - just like a butterfly shot I uploaded today. I wish I’d used f13 or smaller! Doesn’t look like motion blur to me. Anyway, it doesn’t bother me at all here; and it’s a superb colour combination!

1 Like

Egidío, Juniper hairstreaks are hard to find, because they usually hang out hidden in juniper trees. The color mix of greenish butterfly and nice pink flowers looks very good. The flipped version (original post) shows off the BF nicely. The “correct” view of that crop feels “strange”. Then the full field view with the upside down BF is back to feeling natural, especially since many of the hairstreaks nectar upside down or sideways…to heck with gravity! You could crop the original to 8.5 x 11 removing flowers intruding on the left.

1 Like

Thanks for uploading the uncropped version. That helps a lot.

Note: Your sensor is approximately 7000 x 4670 pixels or 33MP according to the online user manual.

The thoughts I have concerning DOF really all depends on whether or not you intend to print.
If you’re only planning to share online, what I’m about to suggest should work fine but it might not be the best for printing.

You shot this at 105mm, f11 from about 12 inches away from the BF, with those numbers your DOF is close to 0.15 inches deep (with half of that behind the focus point and half in front of the focus point).
I’ll keep this to only horizontal percentages for ease of math.
Your crop in this was about 75% of the full image (7000 pixels down to roughly 5200 pixels before exporting in jpeg).

Now, if you were to increase the distance from the camera to the BF from 12 inches to roughly 18 - 19 inches, the DOF increases 3X (for a DOF of 0.45 inches).
If you were to want the BF to be the same size as it is in this image, then you would crop down to about 50% of the full image width (or 3500 pixels).
Now, if you reduce the size of the image to 60% of the cropped version for posting, that’s still 2100 pixels wide for an online jpeg and the quality should still be more than acceptable but you may need to do some experimenting to test it out.
You could pick an inanimate object about the same size as this BF and do some test shots and test edits to see if the image will hold up to the quality you want.

This is one of the main reasons I bought the Sony A7R IV, it has a 60MP sensor (9500x6300), and I wanted the 15 stops of dynamic range.
Edit: I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that, it might sound like I’m bragging and/or it could be taken as downplaying your camera :frowning: I didn’t mean for either to be negative! :frowning: My apologies.

If you did try the suggestion I mentioned above, you may still be able to print roughly 6 or 7 inches wide with good results, and…there’s always Gigapixel AI for enlarging, that may work well for printing but I’ve never tried it.

Finally, if you were to close the aperture down to f14, you’d increase the DOF to 0.56 inches, the ISO would rise a bit but it should still work with Denoise software.

Anyway, it’s something to think about and it may even be worth giving it a try. :slight_smile:
Thanks! :slight_smile:

Thank you, @Mike_Friel , @Mark_Seaver , and @Merv , for your feedback. It is so refreshing to get your viewpoint on this photo. It is also very interesting to me how each person sees things differently.

Mike, thanks for the information. I did not know that about redbud flowers. The idea of the butterfly upside still looks so odd to my eyes, even though I was looking at it right in front of me when I made the photo. Well, I had the entire world surrounding the image, not just the macro vision in the photo. Your second point about the aperture is spot-on. More and more, macros are teaching me that, too. As I explained in my submission, I was lucky to have the camera lens pretty much perpendicular to the entire butterfly. Had the angle been different, the DOF would be more accentuated. That color combination is what made me see the butterfly. It stood out among the pink.

Mark, when I was coming up with a title for the image, my first thought was “Defying Gravity” (if I used the original orientation with the butterfly upside down). Again, I learned something about this hairstreak. I did not know that is how they get their nectar. Your suggestion is intriguing to me about the cropping size. I’ll have to try that, too.

Merv, once again thanks for your thoughtful and detailed critique. In a previous post, I had written my intention was social media. I failed to disclose that in this post. In the last 20 years, I have only printed 6 photos to hang at home. Most of my photos are only used online when I share them on social media or on a website with family and friends.

I really need to practice and use this knowledge with something fixed as you suggested. Those darned hairstreaks are so fast and move frantically all the time.

Although I have Gigapixel AI, when it comes to cropping a lot and using AI, I have not found a medium ground without adding artifacts. You give me more ideas to try.

1 Like

Egidio, I have been off the grid for a week. Traveling has got my back muscles aggravated (sitting isn’t good for me), so even though I am back, I am having trouble sitting here very long.

Yes, Hairstreaks nectar upside down, which does look odd to us, but I think the one with him in that position does look more natural to those of us who are aware of their posture. Those flowers are beautiful and really is a nice sitting for him. I think you have already received some nice ideas for improvement on this image as well as settings for future. Nice shot on a very busy and hard to capture subject.

1 Like

Shirley, being one who sometimes has back pains, I deeply appreciate your taking the time to write your feedback. I also hope you have a speedy recovery so that you can enjoy your trip more.

NPN continues to teach me a lot in the short time I’ve been here. With this post, besides the technical feedback I’ve received, I learned what you also pointed out about Hairstreaks nectaring upside down.

Thanks also for pointing that out. Besides it being a windy day, the number of flowers on that bush was quite dense. Trying to get my lens to capture the Hairstreak was difficult with some flowers getting in the way.

I appreciate your feedback. I should soon add a repost with the Hairstreak in the proper orientation and original capture.

1 Like