butterfly Photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash

Ultimate Guide to Butterfly Photography: When | Where to Find | Pro-tips

August 28, 2022

When looking at nature, it's easy to be in awe of the beauty of creatures like butterflies. They are often seen as a symbol of change, new beginnings, and hope.

For many, photography is a way to capture these delicate creatures in a way that can be shared with others and appreciated for years to come.

Here is a guide to butterfly photography, including when and where to find them, what camera settings to use, and some pro-tips to get beautiful butterfly pictures.

When to Plan for Your Butterfly Photoshoot?

Unfortunately, butterfly photoshoots can not take place during any season. The best time to plan for your butterfly photoshoot is during the spring or summer because that is when there are the most butterflies.


The Spring season is characterized by fresh blooms, warmer weather, and more daylight hours. Most butterflies emerge from their winter sleep and are looking for mates so that the females can lay eggs.

photo of butterfly chrysalis

Photo by Suzanne D. Williams on Unsplash

Butterfly caterpillars can also be found feeding on wild plants in the mustard family because they are usually available during this season.

You will likely find a wide variety of butterfly species during this time, including the West Virginia, monarch, and swallowtail.

This makes spring one of the best times for a butterfly photoshoot.


During early summer, the first female butterflies to emerge, tailed blues and pearl crescents, lay eggs that soon hatch into caterpillars. The caterpillars grow rapidly into adults and lay eggs.

This results in several generations of butterflies during the summer, and you can find many butterfly species during this time. This makes summer another excellent time for a butterfly photoshoot.

Where to Find Your Butterfly Photography?

Wild butterflies are notoriously difficult to photograph. Some are small, fast, and often flutter away before you can even get your camera out of your bag.

colcor butterfly photo

Photo by Alfred Schrock on Unsplash

If you're patient and have a good eye, you can get beautiful butterfly pictures when still in their natural habitat. Here are a few tips on where to find butterflies.

1. Look for Open Fields with Wildflowers and Fruits

Butterflies love flowers and are often drawn to fields with various blooms. If you can find a field with many different wildflowers, you're likely to see a lot of butterflies.

Fruits such as blackberry brambles and raspberries are attractive to butterflies since they like feeding on sweet things. So, if you see a field with many fruits, it's worth checking out for butterflies.

2. Equip Yourself with Knowledge on Your Local Butterflies

It can be helpful to learn about the types of butterflies in your area. This way, you'll know what to look for and where to find them. Local libraries and nature centers are good resources for this information.

3. Look for Butterflies in the Morning

photo of butterfly on flower

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

Butterflies are cold-blooded, so they like to bask in the sun to warm up. So, if you're looking for butterflies, it's best to look for them in the morning when they're likely to be out and about.

Gear and Camera Setting for Beautiful Butterfly Pictures

Beautiful butterfly pictures greatly depend on the right gear and camera settings. What are some must-haves for your gear bag, and what settings should you have on your camera?

Butterfly photography requires a few specialized pieces of gear to be successful. Some of them are:

Macro Lens

This is probably the most crucial piece of gear for butterfly photography. Using an ordinary lens will usually not allow you to get close enough to the butterfly to focus appropriately. However, a macro lens will allow you to take highly close-up pictures of the butterfly while focusing correctly.

A perfect macro lens for butterfly photography has a focal length of 100mm-200mm.


You will need a stabilizing system to avoid getting blurry pictures. A tripod is the best way to achieve this. It allows you to set your camera in the perfect position, and then take your time to get the perfect shot without worrying about your camera moving or shaking.

photo of black and white butterfly

Photo by Lenstravelier on Unsplash

Camera Setting

Apart from these gears, you will need to have the correct camera settings to take beautiful butterfly pictures. Here are some recommended settings:

  • ISO: The ISO should be set to a low number to avoid noise in the picture. A good range to start with is ISO 100-400. If possible, you should always use an ISO of 100 to minimize image noise.
  • Aperture: The aperture should be set to a high number to create a shallow depth of field. This will help to make the butterfly stand out from the background. A good range to start with is f/8-f/22.
  • Shutter speed: The shutter speed should be set to a fast speed to freeze the movement of the butterfly. A good range to start with is 1/500th of a second or faster.

Pro-tips for Beautiful Butterfly Pictures

Taking pictures of butterflies can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, taking beautiful butterfly pictures requires some skill and knowledge. Here are some pro-tips to help you take beautiful butterfly pictures:

1. Avoid Distracting the Butterfly

If the butterfly is busy flying from flower to flower, do not distract it by trying to catch it. Instead, wait patiently for it to land on a flower or leaf and then take your picture.

photo of butterfly on flower

Photo by Calvin Mano on Unsplash

This will result in a natural and relaxed picture of the butterfly, which is much more aesthetically pleasing than a picture of a butterfly flapping its wings in distress.

2. Shoot at Different Angles

If the butterfly has opened its wings, try shooting from the top to see the entire butterfly. If the butterfly has closed its wings, try taking a side shot to see the intricate patterns on the butterfly's wings.

Moreover, If the butterfly is perched on a flower, try getting down low to see the butterfly against the background.

3. Always Target Color

Look for brightly colored butterflies as they will make for the most beautiful butterfly pictures. If you don't find one, shoot the butterflies when they are feeding on flowers. The colors of the flower will reflect onto the butterfly's wings and create a beautiful and unique picture.

4. Be Still and Quiet

Butterflies are very sensitive to movement and noise. If you want to take a picture of a butterfly, you must be still and quiet. Otherwise, the butterfly will fly away before you have a chance to take a picture.

5. Avoid the Harsh Light

photo of blue butterfly

Photo by Andra C Taylor Jr on Unsplash

The light is usually too harsh during the middle of the day, and it will create harsh shadows on the butterfly's wings. Instead, take pictures during the early morning or late afternoon when the light is softer and more flattering.

6. Be Patient

Butterflies often move from flower to flower, so you must be patient if you want to take a picture of one. Try to anticipate where the butterfly will land next and be ready to take the picture when it does.


Butterfly photography is a great way to challenge your skills and capture stunning images of these delicate creatures. Using the proper camera settings and equipment and following the tips in this guide can improve your results and create beautiful butterfly pictures. You can take advantage of the best times and locations for butterfly photography with some practice.

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