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Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail
Photo Information
Copyright: Jose Miguel Cisneros (JoseMiguel) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1419 W: 3 N: 1610] (5658)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-12-30
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon EOS 40D, Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, 58mm UV
Exposure: f/7.1, 1/640 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-01-07 13:07
Viewed: 7708
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 144
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Giant swallowtail
Papilio cresphontes Cramer

I took this picture a week ago in a park near Caracas.
How it was about noon, there were too much light, and in the first photos I always got burned areas. So I compensated the exposition -2/3 and this is the result.

Handheld, crop, exposure adjustments, image size for TN and sharpening.
ISO: 320
Exposure Compensation: -2/3
Colour space: AdobeRGB
Focal length: 300mm
Partial metering

At first was doubting between two possible species, the Papilio cresphontes and Papilio thoas, but after checking out I believe this is the first one. Here is some info about:

The giant swallowtail, Papilio cresphontes Cramer, is a striking, wonderfully "exotic"-looking butterfly that is very abundant in Florida. The adult butterfly is a welcome visitor to butterfly gardens and to general landscape plantings. The larval or caterpillar stage however, can be considered a pest because of its habit of feeding on the foliage of most Citrus species. A few "orangedogs", as the larvae are commonly called, can quickly defoliate small or young plants. Larvae can be tolerated however, on large dooryard citrus trees in order to enjoy the soon-to-develop magnificent adult butterfly stage.

The giant swallowtail is widely distributed throughout the American continent. its range extends from southern New England across the northern Great Lakes states, into Ontario, through the southern portions of the Central Plains to the Rocky Mountains. The species ranges southward to Florida and the Caribbean, into the southwestern United States, and on through Mexico to Central and South America. The giant swallowtail is very common throughout the entire state of Florida. It is active throughout the year in southern Florida, and is common in northern Florida, except in January and February.

Adult giant swallowtails are large butterflies with a forewing span of 4.6 to 6.9 cm (avg. 5.5 cm) for males and a span of 5.3 to 7.4 cm (avg. 5.8 cm) for females. The dorsal wing surfaces of the butterfly are black with a striking diagonal yellow bar across the forewings The ventral wing surfaces are primarily yellow. The giant swallowtail is very distinct from all other swallowtails found in Florida, except for the endangered Schaus’ swallowtail (Papilio aristodemus ponceanus) which is confined to the Florida Keys. The giant swallowtail can be distinguished from the Schaus’ swallowtail by the yellow-filled "tails" (Schaus’ swallowtail tails are all black), and the small, brick-red patch just interior to the blue median band on the ventral hind wing. The five larval instars differ in appearance but they all share a resemblance to bird droppings. The younger instars are predominantly black with a white saddle while the older instars are mottled dark brown with a posterior that is white or cream colored. It has been suggested that the older instars resemble small snakes.

Scientific classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Papilionidae
Genus: Papilio
Species: P. cresphontes


University of Florida

nglen, mirceax, EOSF1, loot, Necipp, accassidy, eqshannon, Juyona, fiyo, dejo, Adanac, Luis52, jcoowanitwong, haraprasan, mariki, SelenE, Alex99, earthtraveler, fartash, marhowie, uaybalam, saguzar, ramthakur, mvdisco, pablominto, Maite, jmp, scottevers7, NinaM, warnzy, carper, angybone, mlines, dkaved, smitha, hester, nirmalroberts, horia, izler, pilonm, peter_stoeckl, sily, boreocypriensis, bahadir, c_rapp, jusninasirun, jeanpaul, timonejoon, cicindela, Miss_Piggy has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To sily: Very inspiringJoseMiguel 1 01-24 12:52
To claudine: me too!JoseMiguel 2 01-11 04:46
To arfer: agreeJoseMiguel 1 01-09 07:00
To eqshannon: so big!JoseMiguel 1 01-09 06:55
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-01-07 13:11]

Hi Jose Miguel . You live in a place full of sunshine . You have a fine close up of the beautiful butterfly. which you have captured with fine detail and colours. a nice POV. well done TFS. good notes too.

Hi Jose,
Beautiful macro with fine colours and perfect BG.The butterfly pose is also great.


  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-01-07 13:26]

Hello Jose Miguel ! Very nice shot of that butterfly, great details, lovely colors and the background is fantastic, well done, thanks !


Hello Jose a lovely colourfull shot excellent contrasting details in the wings, beautifully composed, best rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • loot Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5524 W: 722 N: 4163] (11276)
  • [2008-01-07 13:45]
  • [2]

Hi Jose Miquel

Wow, what intense colours. The exposure compensation worked perfectly for this shot as you really nailed it. A great composition too.

I love how the light comes through the wings and that way enhances the colours even more. Great details obtained with the aid of the aperture / shutter speed combination. A lovely macro with well isolated BG.

Good work and TFS.

Hola JM,
Excellent composition in rich and warm colouration!
beautiful pose of the butterfly in good sharpness with details
well done

these butterflies are so big...they have their own depth of field...for those who have not seen how big...as big as a softball...in America...and this with it's colors almost vividly clashing for contention in the image...It was a full eye..full of butterfly and full of colour!

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2008-01-07 14:31]

Hola José,
una sensancional captura,
con bellos tonos y original pov,
preciosa iluminación y bg,

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2008-01-07 15:30]

Ciao Jose',bentornato e grazie per questa bellissima foto e bellissimo esemplare di farfalla.Complimenti per la posizione della luce e l'angolazione del punto di vista,veramente un gran lavoro,ciao e buona giornata,Luciano

A pesar de la dura luz y sin ser una perfección de enfoque, la toma es exquisita y romántica por el excelente encuadre , pose del insecto y conjunto.
Saludos José Miguel

  • Great 
  • dejo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 344 W: 51 N: 520] (2242)
  • [2008-01-07 15:55]

Hello Jose,
lovely colors and light captured, nice POV too
regards, Dejan

  • Great 
  • Adanac Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1273 W: 1 N: 6188] (21378)
  • [2008-01-07 18:04]

Hello Jose Miguel,
Nice capture of a beautiful species with excellent notes to go along, great job and thanks.

  • Great 
  • Luis52 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1175 W: 8 N: 4240] (15809)
  • [2008-01-07 19:39]

Hola Jose Miguel.- Bella la foto. Hermosos colores y muy agradable la presentacion. Muy educativa la nota escrita.
Saludos Luis52.

  • Great 
  • radz Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 598 W: 11 N: 72] (436)
  • [2008-01-07 20:36]

Beauitful!Lovely colours.
Nice POV&Compoosition.

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-01-07 22:17]

Hi Jose,
Just acknowledging this wonderful shot from you. Sorry for the short job my friend, absolutely stretched.

Hi Jose,
Beautiful and gorgeous swallowtail. Lovely color tone. Wonderful pose. TFS this fine image.

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-01-08 2:34]

Wonderfully colourful image!
The warm lighting is splendid!
Great DOF isolating the butterfly from a surely distracting BG.
Good clarity and sharpness.
Very informative notes as well.
Well done Jose Miguel,

Hi Jose,
A beautiful capture of this giant swallow tail. Nice composition, well timed with very good details. Thanks a lot for sharing.

Hello Jose Miguel,

Very nice picture of this butterfly against the sun. Good focus. Wonderful vivid colours.
Very well done,

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2008-01-08 7:09]

Hi Jose Miguel,
Nice shot of this swallowtail. I liked the light, colors, composition and POV. TFS
Best wishes,

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2008-01-08 7:11]

Hi Jose.
Amazing colourful picture with brilliant composition. BG is really fantastic as well as the composition of the picture and POV. Ocean of colours, sunshine. May be there is one weak point. This is not extreme sharpness of the butterfly and flower images but it is mater of taste. I also like very nice back light and impressive effects on the wings. Bravo. Very nice artistic shot.

Hola José, Que bella fotografia. Esta muy colorida y con buenos detalles del macro. Buen punto de vista también. Gracias por compartirla.

Hola Jose,
Wonderfully bright, colorful, sunny image of this Swallowtail.
The composition is beautiful. The light on the wings is a lovely addition. Well done, TFS

Hello Jose
Excellent shot of this Giant swallowtail,
Perfect details,DOF and lighting,Welldone.
Good to see you back :o)


Hello Jose Miguel,
excellent point of vue on this capture, lighting and colors are just outstanding, very nice composition,

  • Great 
  • fiyo Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1053 W: 5 N: 3475] (15161)
  • [2008-01-08 12:23]

Perfect shot,Jose Miguel!
Sharpness,details and colors are very nice. Regards.

una palabra :

Ciao Jose,
veramente bella questa foto di Papilio cresphontes.
Una composizione molto gradevole e un controluce ben riuscito.
Colori molto intensi.

Hola José Miguel,
La veo algo soft, pero el acercamiento el colorido y el POV son impactantes. Lindo trabajo

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-01-08 20:48]
  • [+]

Hello Jose Miguel

Wow,this is like a painting.The composition is excellent.
The lighting is well done,and the colours are well saturated and vibrant.
The focus is sharp with wonderful detail.
Great job.


For one thing, your images have very vibrant colours, Jose, and this picture of a Giant Swallowtail is no exception.
You have used the camera settings cleverly to keep excessive light under control.
Very beautiful and colourful composition once again from your versatile hands.
Best regards.

Hi Jose,
Can't tell how many times I've clicked on the Giant Swallowtail, it's a regular vistor here in the Spring, Summer, and Fall..
I like the warm color & interesting POV. Well composed in an artistic frame :)

Hi Jose Miguel,
Very nice capture of this beautiful butterfly and flower, lovely colors and perfect back ground with beautiful colors and sharp picture, Excellent Point of view. very well done.

Hello Jose Miguel,
A lovely butterfly!
The fine light really brings out the fine colours, the wing pattern is captured with fine details...
A pleasant composition, DOF spot on creates a fine 3-D feeling!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • Maite Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 998 W: 65 N: 1270] (5199)
  • [2008-01-10 7:36]

Hola Jose Miguel
Gigante la mariposa y gigante el resultado. Me encanta el colorido y cómo atrapaste la luz a través de las alas. Esta Cresfontes es una mariposa de lo más atractiva. Además, las flores con ese intenso color rojo y el fondo tan perfectamente difuminado y de hermosos colores añaden una belleza peculiar a la composición.
Otra joya más que agradecerte!
Un gran saludo :)

Hi Jose Miguel, splendid butterfly with wonderful details and good sharpness, lovely composition with beautiful flowers, I like that you show both wings of Papilio, very well done, ciao Silvio

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2008-01-10 14:47]

Hola José Miguel:
Bellísima y fantástica foto, llena de evocación y sensibilidad.
Un abrazo,
José Miguel

Hi Jose Miguel,
I like the way this picture is composed and lightened! Colors are beautiful and the way the sun hits its wing is superb. This is an impressive specie to see. I'll be honest by telling you that IMHO, sharpening could have been a little more accentuated :) TFS and Best Regards,

Hi Jose,
A very nice shot on this Giant Swallowtail. Beautiful sunshine, vivid colors, and nice sharp detail. A well controled DOF has given a perfect OOF backround.

Hi Jose,

Great macro shot full of wonderful colours, light textures and form.


Ola Jose,
Outra bela foto,linda mesmo.

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-01-11 11:33]

Hi Jose Miguel, I love the light in this picture, it is as "light" as the butterfly who seems to be ready to fly. The background is superb and I love the colour of the flower against it. The butterfly is filled with light, it's a joy to look at. thank you!


Une magnifique voilure bien tranparente.
Bonne journée.

Hola José Miguel,
El ejemplar es muy bonito, pero tú lo magnificas con el color y la luz que has conseguido. Además nos los muestras en una posición donde nos muestra todos los detalles. Magnífico trabajo. Un cordial saludo
José Ramón

the result is very good Jose.
the speed is in the shot, the dof is very good and the pov is nice. You must have some luck with the composition, but on this moment there is one thing you want and that is a capture, very good job, have a nice weekend.
gr. jaap

First thing I love about this is the light...a warm summer sun. I love the way the light shines through the delicate wings. These swallowtails are hard to capture - they move those wings awfully fast! :)
The next thing that really grabbed me was the wonderful color. Lovely!
And of course, excellent composition - as usual. :)

Hi Jose Miguel. An excellent macro with supreme clarity and colour. Blurred background throws all the emphasis on the butterfly. TFS. Murray.

Wonderfully colourful image!

  • Great 
  • dkaved Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 259 W: 17 N: 431] (2114)
  • [2008-01-12 12:07]

Hi Jose,
It is indeed a beautiful and exotic looking creature.My countrydoes have quite a variety of butterflies but nothing so extravigant as this.Lovely how it is perched on the bright flower creating such a wonderful composition. The colours so vivid and strong.TFS and take care.
Regards, David

  • Great 
  • smitha Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 348 W: 73 N: 1165] (4409)
  • [2008-01-12 21:13]

Hello Jose,
Excellent shot! Even under harsh light conditions you have successfully achieved a very beutiful picture. Lovely colours.It's fantastic to see the way the light plays with its wings.Reminds me of those lovely delicate lampshades.:) I liked the POV, DOF and the composition. Thanks for thew share,

  • Great 
  • hester Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1515 W: 18 N: 3165] (11638)
  • [2008-01-13 11:53]

Hi Jose Miguel

Too much sunshine? some people have all the luck, I would love some sunshine :)

The exposure compensation gave you a stunning image. The light is amazing and the colours are vibrant. Beautiful DOF giving that lovely BG



Hello Jose,
Beautiful butterfly. Good composition and POV. Brilliant colours. Nicely blurred BG. TFS.
- Nirmal

Hi Alain,
nice POV,saturation and exposure,TFS

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-01-16 9:53]

Hi Jose Miguel

Thank you, too, for your kind welcome back my friend and congratulations for yet another very beautiful macro!
I do have to agree with Rob: it really does have a painting feel to it, which really makes it special.
Even if i haven't seen this species live yet, i can tell it's huge just by looking at this picture. And aside that, the pattern on its wings and its colors are gorgeous, all facts that make it a magnificent subject for photos.
In the case of such big macro subjects, though, it's difficult to find a good DOF choice. You managed a good one here and also a great exposure balance. That is the great advantage of digital cameras - you get an instant feedback from your camera and you can take another shot with adjusted settings.
The composition here is also great and the presentation is also lovely.
Looking at this picture again, i can't help wondering if a very small fill-in flash would have helped here...i would be curious how the new 40D would handle in those condition...should perform very well.
Anyway, it's still a great shot as it is!

Bravo and TFS

  • Great 
  • izler Gold Star Critiquer [C: 1387 W: 3 N: 9] (44)
  • [2008-01-16 9:58]

merhaba jose
well close-up working on this beautiful and giant swallowtail
i like composition, lighting, colours, contrast, pp working and note
thanks for sharing

Hi dear Jose, my friend,

Very nice macro with vivid colours.BG is nice too.
Great focus and nice sharpness.
well done


Encantadora mariposa con esos colores tan llamativos.
Buena presentación y geniales tonos.
Un cordial saludo desde Gran Canaria, JL.

Hola Jose Miguel,

This picure is like a very nice painting and you did very well by chosen that "square" presentation. Very colorful and great POV in order to let us show both tails and also both side of the wings... 3 words then: Very Well Done!!!



  • Great 
  • lizzie Gold Star Critiquer [C: 207 W: 0 N: 605] (2855)
  • [2008-01-18 17:52]

Hi Jose

What an amazing picture you're showing us today. I lov the light, it's creating a lovely pattern on the wings of the butterfly. Superb composition with a beautiful background. Very well done!

Dear José,
a very dynamically composed capture with breathtaking colours - a brilliant painting of powerful light. Thank you!
My best regards,

  • Great 
  • sily Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 239 W: 6 N: 395] (1934)
  • [2008-01-24 12:06]
  • [+]

Hola Jose!
Wow, this focus is somewhat refreshing, it's more artistic than photographic and I love the way light enrichens the striking colors, it's almost like a surreal painting and it's beautiful!

Hi Jose,
Beautiful butterfly and flower! Nice capture. TFS friend!

Absolutely stunning pov great detail and gorgeous colors. TFS

Hello Jose!
Wow this is beautiful! I love the sunlight shining on the wings making them so very bright, the colors are so bright and vivid, great POV and love the pose of the butterfly as well as the background. Awesome shot. TFS

Hello Jose Miguel,
Hard to get pictures where butterflies spread the wing up exposing the body like this one. The capture is well timed and the details and beauty is well exposed. The blurry green bg provides excellent contrast to this shot. Please allow me to add this to my personal theme. I like it and very well done.


Beautiful capture José, well done!

Bonjour Jose Miguel
Une merveilleuse photo que ce Joli papillon,Très belle composition, les couleurs et le cadrage et les détails sont tous très bons.

Bravo et merci...JP

Hi Jose

i can't say anything, just woooow. colors and colors. lovely.
let me just watch.
Maybe a little bit sharpness shows more details. also i think red color of flower is over saturated.
well done


Hello Jose Miguel!
Colours are so vivid that I can almost feel like to watch alive butterfly! :)
And notes are very interesting too, a lot of data about this species are given here :)
Best regards,

Just marking your post for now...will be back presently.

Hallo Jose Miguel
I missed your presence on the site and it is good to see your participation once again. What a wonderful display of colours and patterns in one. The wings of this butterfly is formed and shaped so perfectly, it looks as if it has been cut out with a scissors along the edges. It is really a great view with lots of details to appreciate and observe. The butterfly is placed at a perfect spot in the frame displaying all the beauty closer to the eye. Thanks for sharing.
Kind regards

  • Great 
  • foozi Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 2791 W: 0 N: 6696] (25839)
  • [2009-02-08 2:57]

Hi Jose,
lovely capture of this butterfly. the colours are lovely and you have presented it very well. the flower also give a good beauty to you well composed shot.
The soft green blurry background gives a good effect to the overall picture.
Lovely one.


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