Chasing Butterflies

When a Chinese boy likes a Chinese girl he gives her a jade one. Among the ancients it was a symbol of the “soul and of unconscious attraction towards the light” (A Dictionary of Symbols – J.E. Cirlot). The butterfly’s transformation from it’s former state as a caterpillar is a universally accepted symbol of patience in enduring the process of change and transformation in our own human lives.

We’ve always admired their ability to cocoon themselves away from the world and emerge as winged-wonders taking to the sky in an apparent snubbing of their former grounded and somewhat grotesque states.

They’ve therefore come to represent hope and perseverance in our struggles with changes.

For photographers, shooting butterflies is a lesson in patience. They’re notoriously skittish and their flight paths are wickedly unpredictable. However, once you position yourself in an appropriate spot close enough to their source of food, you’re almost guaranteed a busy morning with lots of possibilities. I love chasing butterflies. Because they’re somewhat boring to shoot (in a good way) there’s a lot of time to think between your shots and experiment with different settings and compositions. They’re very predictable in that once you settle on an appropriate and popular location, you’re guaranteed they’ll show up. Lot’s of times they even get used to you being around. They eventually come to realize that your camera does not steal their soul and that the process of being photographed brings them no harm. The prettier ones may even get a bit “showy” and flaunt their colours with pride. My only word of caution for shooting butterflies comes from my most frequently made mistake. When you’re out shooting butterflies be sure to watch where you stand. The butterflies won’t harm you, but, the ants will. Have fun!

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Author of Roaming Shooter.

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