Butterflies at the Insectival!

This butterfly’s wings are wrinkled because of a birth defect. It can’t fly very well… :(

So… this weekend, the Butterfly Pavilion hosted an Insectival (or Insect Carnival)! The best part about it was that the local camera store in the Boulder/Denver area was there loaning out macro lenses for free! For those of you who don’t know what a macro lens is, check out your point and shoot cameras. Macro mode is always identified by a little flower shape. When you turn on macro mode, you can take pictures of super tiny things and the camera will do its best to bring those little things into perfect focus. It’s kind of similar for big DSLRS too except you can actually use a totally different lens that specializes on focusing on the tiny. Macro lenses are pretty expensive (the one I played with is around $1000) and I don’t do enough photography of tiny things to justify buying one but if someone wants to loan me an expensive macro lens in an area full of tiny things (like butterflies) and let me play, I am okay with that!
So we went! I was so stressed out and nervous the whole drive there, worrying that they would be out of loaner lenses or something. >_< Poor Cobalt…

It all worked out though. I got to borrow a 105 mm macro lens which turned out to be HUGE. My friend J also brought her DSLR and she got to borrow this epic telephoto macro lens which was even bigger. The difference between our two lenses is that with her telephoto lens, J could look at tiny things farther away and have them appear as if they are right next to you. With our borrowed lenses in hand, J and I (and the rest of our group) headed into the world of butterflies!

It was interesting trying out a new lens with my camera. Usually if you go to a camera store and ask to try a lens, they bring you a random camera with the lens of interest attached and you play with it in the store. This time, I had my own camera (that I am completely comfortable using) and my own memory card and I could just mess around (i.e. take a million pictures and look at them all later in the comfort of my home). I usually shoot all my DSLR pictures in manual mode – meaning that I often take several pictures of the same thing to try to get the settings the way I want them. I found that with demoing a new lens, I would rather just mess around with the lens settings and let the camera take control of the light settings. I couldn’t let myself go all the way to automatic mode so I settled on Aperture Priority (Av mode on most cameras), which lets you set the depth of field and it adjusts the shutter speed to whatever it thinks will work best. It was hard trusting my camera when I am so used to doing everything myself (I found myself constantly judging the lighting of certain situations and wondering if I should change something before I realized the camera would take care of it) but it did a good job. Once we got inside to look at some of the other bugs, I had to put it back on manual because I was disappointed in its choice of shutter speed but otherwise, good job camera! Thank you for letting me only focus on the lens.

Long story short… it was a blast. I have so many butterfly pictures on my computer right now… AND the camera store is holding a photo contest! I am currently trying to figure out which of ALLLLLL my pictures is my favorite (these three are in the running with about 8 other ones…) so I can enter it in the contest. Winner wins a fancy Nikon J1 camera. Maybe I will post the picture I submit when I submit it…

Finally some non butterfly/camera geekiness:
Cobalt LOVES tarantulas. You can tell from just his mouth in this picture… He actually got to hold one named Rosie (and he got a sticker saying that he held her). Rosie also must have really liked Cobalt. When the handler tried to take her back, she wouldn’t leave his hands…

And a picture of J, me, and A (taken with my normal 50 mm lens). I am sad because we just had to give our fancy lenses back to the camera people…

Crazy week ahead! MOH comes tomorrow and we leave on Saturday for CA!!!! Gotta finish that crazy grant too. Plus, I should probably clean the house before T shows up tomorrow….

Your assignment for today: What do you look for in a good photograph? Do you look at photo composition, colors, focus, etc? Are you a huuuge nerd about something the way I am about cameras/photography?

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