Atala & Espejitos


An Atala, a word I had never heard before that reminds me of the blockbuster film Avatar is a small black and red butterfly. The Atala can be found in Southeastern Florida, Cuba and the caribbean islands of Cayman and the Bahamas.

The origin of the word Atala comes from Ancient Greece meaning ‘young.’ It is also used in the Indian language meaning ‘stable.’ Just think, being young and stable. Wouldn’t that be a marvelous thing?

This lovely Atala wasn’t the only tiny butterfly in the “Wings of Fancy” exhibit at Brookside Gardens. Another one, more elusive was seen. A Greta Oto, or more commonly known as a Glasswing Butterfly comes from Central America. In Spanish, they are named ‘espejitos’ or little mirrors.


Now let’s get a little technical. When photographing butterflies, many people think to use their macro lens to capture them. After all, they are little subjects right?

Well, I discovered that photographing butterflies with my 500mm lens was actually a brilliant thing to do.

Entirely by accident one day while birding, I saw some butterflies in a bush so I began photographing them. The best thing was that the butterflies were completely unaware of me as I was at a distance. Many times when I tried to get closer to butterfly, they would flutter off. So using a telephoto lens allowed me to get close to them without disturbing them.

For this butterfly outing I was using a Canon 5D Mark III with the new 100-400mm L lens paired with an extension tube to reduce the minimum focal distance.

There wasn’t much light early in the morning, so I used a tripod with a ball head and remote trigger switch. Exposure for these captures were 1/200 sec, f/6.3 at ISO 1600.

16 replies »

  1. I agree on being able to take a photo from a distance to not upset my subject. I can’t do that, so I’ve become the fastest non moving photographer! I move when the insect isn’t looking, like the game ‘redlight/greenlight’! Kind fun, but not very successful. ..

  2. LOVE the Glasswing Butterfly – how absolutely glorious – a true work of art! And what a GREAT tip with the 500mm lens which seems so obvious now but will be something I definitely try. šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.