Framing and Composition 構圖

Considering photograph as a message, framing and composition is the technique to communicate with the audience.  No matter whether the purpose of a photograph is pure documentary or story-telling, the photographer needs to embed the messages or elements properly and ensure that they can be conveyed to the audience effectively.

Traditional framing and composition techniques apply to butterfly photography.  While there are already lots of related resources around on the Internet, I am not going through them in detail.  Here, I would like to highlight an element unique to butterflies:

  • Wings of the butterflies are plain surfaces

As we typically shoot the butterflies at relatively short distance, the shallow depth of field is going to blur everything off the focal plane.  If we want to keep the whole butterfly sharp from the forehead antenna to the tails of the hind-wings, we need to ensure that the whole butterfly falls onto the focal plane.

A butterfly perfectly on the focal plane (Horaga albimacula)

Definitely, it is not necessary to keep the whole butterfly sharp.  After all, we are not always taking photos as if we are just taking photographic record of specimen.

The same butterfly from a different angle (Horaga albimacula)

Normally, we do not take photos from the front side because the wings of the butterfly will look like a sharp blade.  Still, we may want to do that to capture certain elements.

A metallic butterfly on a leaf (Arcas imperialis)

Shooting from the front, it is entirely a different story

A kung-fu fighting butterfly (Arcas imperialis)

Good photographers should think beyond the rules.

Zemeros flegyas

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