Eastern tiger swallowtails and a little hummingbird moth, just above the black phase swallowtail in the above shot and at the lower left corner in the one preceeding, flit and flutter as they sip sweet nectar from the purple blooms.
But it is not with spear and magic helmet we hunt, it is with the camera with the 20x zoom, the Canon SX1 IS. It has been gleaned from experience that to best use the high powered zoom, we must stand about fifteen feet from the subject. The garage deck is situated perfectly to look down upon the populated bush with the added bonus of being able to rest the elbows on the railing for steadiness.
Maybe a nice flower shot will fool the creatures into thinking I am not interested in them at the least. Yellow is the color of the season as seen in the Rudbeckias, R. fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ forming a nice fuzzy backdrop for R. subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’.
The usual problems surface. Although the sky is overcast, looking upward from a crouched and semi-hidden position at the base of the butterfly bush results in too dark an image against the brightness of the sky. You can’t even see that there is a second butterfly just to the right and below, a dark phase female disappears in the shot. Rats.
It is simply no use. The conditions could not be any better. It is hot, over ninety degrees Fahrenheit, there is not a trace of wind, the air is heavy with humidity, slowing down the flight. I am standing below a bush filled with butterflies and cannot get a decent shot. We are looking for wings, not backsides and private parts. All blooms are well over my head.
We move a few feet over to the ferngully area that is abloom in Joe Pye, Eupatorium purpureum subsp. maculatum ‘Gateway’, backed by Rudbeckia lanciniata. Standing on the concrete block edging gives just enough height to this vertically challenged paparazzi to be able to reach into the floral phantasmagoria and click. A Buckeye joins the Tiger in the feasting.
Ah, a fluttering past my ear is felt, so close that the breeze created by gossamer wings gently poufs the wisps of escaped silver strands from the upswept do held by the large jaw hair clippie. Don’t move a muscle. Stop breathing. Don’t fall off the block. Ever so slowly, raise the camera, finger on the shutter. He is so close, right at eye level, we could bend over to kiss the silken head. Click. Closer, click. Closer still, click. That is all he will allow and off those magical wings take him (or her). The last photo taken is shown above. Never before has this opportunity presented itself, and perhaps it never will again. A better photographer, one who actually knows about settings and such could have done a better job, without a doubt. We are humble point and shoot on auto in macro mode. We wait for gifts like this to occur and rejoice when they do.
*The opening lines of the brilliant cartoon made by Chuck Jones featuring Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, “What’s Opera, Doc”, voiced by the genius Mel Blanc. It was repackaged with other cartoons as part of a new story featuring a stage, audience and a pesky fly. It is, or was for sale to the public as . I own this on VHS. Click here to view it. They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.