By in Pictures

Macro Photography | Butterflies in Close-up

Macro or close-up photography of butterflies can produce great pictures if you can get them to stay still for long enough to sneak up on them and take the shot. With patience and luck in equal measure, you can eventually get some decent shots. All of these shots were taken in Thailand.

The classic butterfly view is of the outstretched wings in order to capture the full beauty of them. Side views are what to go for if the butterfly has its wings folded upright, which is often the case with butterflies (unlike moths). With side views you get the underside of the wings, which usually aren't as striking as the top side. You do get a good face profile, though, which makes up for it.

The following are photos that I took in north Thailand. I think tropical countries, such as Thailand have a greater diversity of butterfly species than other, colder, countries like most European countries, which is good news for photographers who happen to be in a tropical country.

chasmac (me)

Common Tiger


chasmac (me)

Orange lacewing


This is an underside view of an orange lacewing butterfly that was feeding upside down. You can't see its face, though, as it's stuck inside a flower. That probably explains why it didn't notice me stalking around.

chasmac (me)

Orange Lacewing (underside)


This one is called a common four ring butterfly. I can see why.

chasmac (me)

Common four ring


This is a three-spot grass yellow butterfly. I'm not sure where the three spots are, though.

chasmac (me)

Three spot grass yellow


This is a Painted Jezebel

chasmac (me)

Painted Jezebel



Image Credit » chasmac (me)

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MegL wrote on September 24, 2014, 3:26 AM

WOW! Those are amazing. Really beautiful.

suffolkjason wrote on September 24, 2014, 6:46 AM

Stunning photographs. Is there way to get them to sit still? When I try to snap them, they fly off the split second before I push the button.

bestwriter wrote on September 24, 2014, 7:12 AM

I am comfortable with video clips. Then I do not have to bother about waiting for these grand old ladies to sit still :) Your images are superb

Ellis wrote on September 24, 2014, 11:18 AM

Great photos chasmac and thanks for naming them..

AngelSharum wrote on September 24, 2014, 1:31 PM

Beautiful shots! I want to go back to a butterfly garden one of these days and try to get some good photos with my newer camera.

chasmac wrote on September 24, 2014, 2:19 PM

Thanks Meg - We do have some great looking butterflies here in Thailand.

chasmac wrote on September 24, 2014, 2:27 PM

Thanks Jason. I find approaching them from behind and taking a series of shots as I get closer. That way if it takes off, I'll at least have a couple of pics even if not as close as I'd like

chasmac wrote on September 24, 2014, 2:32 PM

Thanks bestwriter - I sometimes use video and then make photos from selected video frames. The quality isn't quite as good and the image isn't as big, but it's very convenient like you say.

chasmac wrote on September 24, 2014, 2:37 PM

Thanks Ellis. Actually, I found out the names of two that I didn't know just before I posted the article. I checked a couple of Butterfly sites, and there they were.

chasmac wrote on September 24, 2014, 2:41 PM

Thanks AngelSharum - I'm sure you'll get some great shots when you go.

suffolkjason wrote on September 24, 2014, 2:51 PM

Good tip! Sometimes their timing is so good (bad from my point of view) I suspect they're teasing me.

Kasman wrote on September 24, 2014, 4:21 PM

Great photos! My close-ups never turn out this good. How about a tutorial on how to take shots like these?

bestwriter wrote on September 24, 2014, 7:37 PM

#Chasmac I did not now about this. You must be having some software. Do get back and tell me about it. Thanks.

chasmac wrote on September 25, 2014, 2:18 AM

Hi bestwriter - Download VLC media player. It's free and better than Windows media player. Play your video and pause where you want to make a photo. After pausing, you can manually move the play slider backwards or forwards a little to get exactly the view you want. Under the VIDEO tab click 'Take Snapshot'. The image on your screen will be saved as a .jpg file in one of your folders such as the MY Pictures folder in your 'My Documents' folder' or somewhere similar. It tells you where it has saved it. I think it's only worth doing if you have HD video, though, otherwise the image will be too small.

chasmac wrote on September 25, 2014, 2:40 AM

Thanks Kasman. Different subjects require different approaches. With butterflies it's mostly just a case of getting close enough with the camera set to MACRO and at its highest resolution. Using the highest resolution means you can crop the image to fill the frame with the subject and still have it come out pretty big. Check my spiders article for some more tips and I'll explain more in my next planned macro article.

bestwriter wrote on September 25, 2014, 3:35 AM

I have the VLC media player with me. I will try there. Thanks a million!!

bestwriter wrote on September 25, 2014, 6:30 AM

I saved some images using VLC

chasmac wrote on September 25, 2014, 8:11 AM

Great - another satisfied customer!

LoudMan wrote on September 25, 2014, 6:07 PM

These are really enjoyable. Thanks a million.

chasmac wrote on September 26, 2014, 5:33 AM

Thanks LoudMan - I'm glad you enjoyed them.