I was on a photoshoot with members of the Georgia Nature Photographers Association (GNPA) at a sunflower farm. One of the members had left a tripod near the edge of the field. For some reason, this gulf fritillary butterfly kept returning to the tripod. Every time it left and returned I took a burst of photos. I was hopeful that I could combine them in some way, but the concept had not solidified in my mind yet.
I enjoy combining images into one frame to tell a complete story. In this case I had nearly 100 images (or attempts) of the same butterfly. As I looked through the images I thought I could somehow show the erratic flight pattern the butterfly followed. It was only after I began to place them within a frame that I realized they needed a destination, so I brought in one of the sunflower photos I had from the shoot. Using a background from the same location made it relatively easy to blend each fritillary image into its surroundings.
The technical stuff
Canon EOS R5, RF100-500mm F5.4-7.1 L IS, Fritillary images shot at 1/1000sec, f11, ISO 4000, at 343 focal length. Processed in Photoshop in 22 visible layers (several discarded)
Photo illustration: Thomas Yackley
I live in Alpharetta, Georgia. I am a part-time professional nature/fine art photographer as well as a choral director and a retired teacher. I enjoy teaching photography and post-processing and leading workshops. My favorite locations are the Great Smoky Mountains and Yosemite.
I first became interested in nature photography when a couple of fellow choral directors and photographers, Jim Dunaway and Frank Green, invited me to join them for a photo shoot in Cades Cove. What has kept me interested is that there is always something new to discover and photograph even in locations I’ve been before.
I have been a member of NANPA since 2019. My photography has been represented in Showcase each year since 2020.
While driving in Alaska, my friend, Ben Ayling, spotted a beautiful reflection in a lake. We pulled off the road to take some photos. The water was so still that the reflection was perfect even without a long shutter speed. We drove past that spot on three further occasions but nothing compared to the first time. Looking at the print now, it is difficult to tell which side is up.