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Black Swallowtails on Thistle

Black Swallowtails on Thistle
Photo Information
Copyright: Ken Slade (Ken52) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-02
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon 350D (Digital Rebel XT), Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, 58mm circular polarizer
Exposure: f/5.0, 1/1000 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
Theme(s): Butterflies, Beautiful Butterflies, 60-69 points (Chapter 3) [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-05-03 22:09
Viewed: 4559
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 66
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
There is a bike trail that runs along the edge of the lake near my house. The wild thistles are just coming into bloom along the trail much to the delight of the Black Swallowtail butterflies and to me. This butterfly is almost constantly moving its wings for balance, so I tried a fast shutter speed. I was delighted to catch two in the same shot.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

This butterfly has a wingspan of 3 1/4 inches to 4 1/4 inches (8 to 11 centimeters). The upper surface of the wings is mostly black. On the inner edge of hindwing is a black spot centered in larger orange spot. A male of this species has a yellow band near edge of wings; a female has row of yellow spots. The hindwing of the female has an iridescent blue band.

Aperture = f5.0
Shutter = 1/1000s
ISO = 400
Focal Length = 140mm
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens

lee, jpinkham, gypsygirl58, JoseMiguel, uleko, jhm, ridvan, anel, Alex99, Debz, Juyona, joey, angybone, jaycee, mikou, Argus, Necipp, horia, JPlumb, SelenE, snowfalken, peter_stoeckl has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To peter_stoeckl: ThanksKen52 1 06-01 11:01
To snowfalken: ThanksKen52 1 05-14 22:44
To JPlumb: Black SwallowtailsKen52 1 05-08 23:08
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • lee Silver Star Critiquer [C: 38 W: 0 N: 23] (84)
  • [2007-05-03 22:18]

Hi Ken, this is a nice one in every way. Yes the butterflys are the main attraction but the flower adds some nice color and contrast without any distraction. Its set nicely against the good background. Good detail on the butterfly, but as I say I think this photo is spot on through and through. Good work, thanks.

Quality shot, Ken. Nicely seen, timed, and executed -- that fast shutter speed really did the trick. The composition is effective, the POV is good, the note is helpful. About the only thing I'd suggest perhaps changing would be a slightly tighter crop at the top to increase the impact -- it's a Page Down on my screen to see the whole picture; you could comfortably trim half an inch, I suspect. Well done, TFS.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-05-03 22:46]
  • [2]

Hello Ken

A beautiful image.This is both artistic and an excellent documentation shot.The composition is well balanced and the colours are vivid an well saturated.The focus and details are sharp.Excellent DOF with a wonderful neutral BG.Superbly done.TFS


  • Great 
  • trinko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 587 W: 78 N: 322] (4321)
  • [2007-05-03 23:35]

great colors focus and pose by the insects hard to get two in one shot. nice DOF

Hi Ken,
Beautiful capture of these Black Swallowtails!
Excellent sharpness and details and the colours are beautiful contrasting well with the pink thistle and the soft green background. Well done and TFS
Cheers Tina :-)

Hi Ken,
A magnificent capture of this couple!
I like very much the composition you were able to do with the pose of this insects.
A very appropiated exposure and sharpness on the subject.
I like also the DOF used and the soft background got.
Congratulations and thanks for share it.
My best regards,

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2007-05-04 1:56]

Hello Ken,
Wonderful, well-timed shot of these two beautiful Swallowtails sharing a thistle. Their dark colours are striking against the lovely soft grey-green background. Great sharpness and beautiful colours. Well done!
Many thanks and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 893 W: 0 N: 507] (1853)
  • [2007-05-04 2:04]

Hello Ken,

This is an amazing picture with superb colours and details, not one butterfly but two on the same picture, the composition is well balanced and the colours are vivid an well saturated, very well done.


selam ken; excellent close up shot. very good compostion and details . with splendid colours. good BG.TFs well done
All the best

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2007-05-04 3:36]

Hello Ken,
Lucky you to have seen two Swallowtails on the same thistle. Not so easy to have everything in focus. You managed well. Very nice composition.
Best regards

excellent compo, pov, and sharpness. nice notes too! congratulations! tfs

  • Great 
  • Alex99 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4072 W: 133 N: 7096] (23735)
  • [2007-05-04 4:15]

Hi Ken.
Your butterfly picture is simply amazing. These charming couple on so beautiful flower are looked perfectly. Composition and cropping are great. Delicateness of the colour palette, details of the butterflies and plant, smoothness of the BG impresses the imagination. Bravo and my best regards.

  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-05-04 4:15]

Hello Ken, this is a superb photo. The composition is perfect. The butterflies are beautifully clean and sharp, colours on both butterflies and the flower are great. Perfect DOF. Its a prize winnder.

  • Great 
  • Juyona Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor [C: 2232 W: 10 N: 2971] (16891)
  • [2007-05-04 4:17]

Hola Ken,
preciosa foto,
detalles excelentes,
buen pov, colores y encuadre...

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2007-05-04 4:18]

Hi Ken,
this is a super shot with a great composition and POV.
Well done,

Hi Ken,

Good image. I like the composition and the colours. Well done.


Hello Ken,
This is just wonderful! What a great composition with such nice specie! This is an amazing picture with superb colors and details. I really like those tones of colors and contrast between the pastel BG and dark color of the butterflies. Congrats!

  • Great 
  • GLEM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 540 W: 87 N: 750] (10)
  • [2007-05-04 7:56]

hi Ken,
ooooooolala, je n'ai pas ce genre de papillon à portée d'objectif et je le regrette. Superbe travail pour avoir le duo, grande maîtrise de la profondeur de champ.
well done


Great shot! Two swallowtails for the price of one - fabulous! I'm checking your settings because your black is perfect. I'm having problems in that arena so I can learn from you. :)

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-05-04 10:55]

Hi Ken,

Beautiful butterflies, beautiful flower, and a beautiful picture.


  • Great 
  • mikou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 869 W: 68 N: 1479] (6093)
  • [2007-05-04 13:47]

Hi Ken.
Wonderful capture of this two beautiful butterfly.I like this perfectly composition with beautiful position of both butterflies,one almost mirror reflection the other's.Amazing colors and pretty combination dark butterflies and beautiful flower,very good details and very nice blurry BG.
Superb done,thanks for sharing.
Best greetings Milos.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-05-04 15:26]

Hello Ken,
Superb capture of a pair of Black Swallowtails. Everything is right about this shot: sharpness, compo (superb!), BG, good DOF and details.
Words fail me...
Well done and TFS!
Have a nice weekend, Ivan

Superb shot the twins are beautifully caught in a nice composition with good clean background, fine focus and detail tfs rgds Necip.

  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2007-05-05 5:26]

Hi Ken and sorry for the delay

This is simly an amazing shot! Not one but two of these amazing and superb butterflies on the same lovely flower!
I am actually a bit amazed that you managed to keep both of them in such terrific focus with only an f/5...splendid job there, because of that apperture you managed to blur the BG so very nicely.
The exposure is spot-on and that gave you all those charming natural colors, while the vertical compo was definitely the way to go!


Wow Ken,
You did well to capture two of these beauties. The quality of the image is superb and one can see all the detail in the butterfly's well. I love the plant that they are visiting too. Very nice.

Hi Ken splendid couple of Black Swallowtails on Thistle, great composition with wonderful colors and excellent details, well done, ciao Silvio

bonjour ken
encore bien vu,deux en un!
c'est dommage que celui du haut ne soit pas aussi net que celui du haut,manque de profondeur ou mouvement de l'insecte?

Hey Ken, awesome shot of these two beauties. They've struck a perfect pose for you and you've taken full advantage of this pose for this amazing shot. Your colour and detail are great, your selection of depth of field and speed is bang on. So what's the trick, do you chase the butterfly, or wait at the flower?

Thanks, John

  • Great 
  • SelenE Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2249 W: 65 N: 4205] (13972)
  • [2007-05-12 19:36]

Hi Ken,
The focus is very good in all over the photo. Very nice composition and colors. TFS

Hello Ken,

Wow! This is outstanding! I really like these butterflies! And you've captured two of them!


Your composition is excellent! I appreciate you didn't place the thistle in the middle of the frame! Instead, you let it run along the right third of the picture to balance the two swallowtails. The superbly blurred background isolates the subjects perfectly! Very well done!


The colors in your picture are well saturated and look natural. I especially like the way they look on the black wings!


Very good contrast in the foreground! This emphasizes the butterflies very well! The lack of contrast in the background is a big plus as it would have made it more distracting.


Exposure is what I admire most in this photo! I especially like the black tones that were perfectly exposed. The details in the dark areas were preserved perfectly without overexposing the highlights! Excellent job!


Very sharp focus on the foreground! The relatively large aperture created a nice DOF and also allowed you to set a short shutter speed to freeze the movements of the butterflies' wings.

A wonderful presentation of these two beauties! The notes are useful and complete your posting! Thanks for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

Hi Ken,
Composition and background wonderful. Great capture. Details and colours very nice. TFS
Best wishes

Hi Ken,
a most beautiful, artistically well arranged meeting of two swallowtails, perfectly well captured with excellent details and depth of field on apparently quick moving objects.
With well shaping light and a very well balanced, minimalized composition around the purple blossom you have created a masterpiece.
With thanks, and best regards,

P.S.: Tried a little workshop to remove the soft part of the thistle sticking out in the lower right corner - just in order to further add to high degree of concentration in this aesthetically very appealing image.

This is fantastic picture. The composition is just excellent. The sharpness is absolute! I am not mentioning colors and contrast - you cant expect less from gear you use.
Also the note is very worthy.I wonder thus where is a good place to determine an insect specie on the internet, as I occasionally catch them, but never know what I caught (and no I don't like traveling to reference library for definitive guides on insects...). TFS.

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