Lessons on a Hot Sunny Day

Even when hot summer weather makes birding difficult, there are still opportunities to practice your technique and reinforce key concepts.  For example, I was at Presqu’ile Provincial Park on the weekend, not expecting to see much. Those expectations were met!  However, there was a larger than normal flock of caspian terns at Owen Point:

 Caspian Terns, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/500s @ f/22, ISO 400

Caspian Terns, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/500s @ f/22, ISO 400

My initial tern photos were taken at f/8, but with that aperture only the front group of birds was in focus.  I had to set a really small aperture of f/22 to get the back group somewhat in focus.

With other photogenic birds nowhere to be found (except for a pair of pileated woodpeckers at Calf Pasture Point), I focused my attention on butterflies.  There was a black swallowtail:

 Black Swallowtail, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/800s @ f/8, ISO 400

Black Swallowtail, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/800s @ f/8, ISO 400

The black swallowtail was shot at f/8 and a shutter speed of 1/800s, but that shutter speed wasn’t fast enough to stop the motion of small cabbage white butterflies.  They fly around like crazy!  I would normally just step down (say to f/5.6) to get a faster shutter speed, but in this case I was pretty close so I wanted the depth of field to be at least f/8.  The only other alternative was to crank up the ISO, so I set mine to ISO 1600.  It seems odd to intentionally use such a large ISO on a perfectly sunny day, but it’s the only way to stop the motion of butterflies while also getting the depth of field you need:

 Small Cabbage White Butterfly on Purple Loosestrife, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/3200s @ f/8, ISO 1600

Small Cabbage White Butterfly on Purple Loosestrife, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/3200s @ f/8, ISO 1600

The same settings worked for a Monarch Buttefly:

 Monarch Butterfly, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/2500s @ f/8, ISO 1600

Monarch Butterfly, Canon 7D with Canon EF 500mm, 1/2500s @ f/8, ISO 1600