On this holiday I reached a personal milestone: I passed the 300-butterfly-species marker. In Cambodia alone, I added over 70 new species to the list.
Two types of location proved to be the best for spotting butterflies:
- muddy banks near waterfalls or rivers
- buddhist monasteries.
Every butterfly lover will recognize the former, so let me explain the latter: many monasteries in the countryside are built on sandy soil, which enables flowerbeds to exist, which in turn attracts butterflies. These monasteries are also peaceful and quiet, accessible to the general public, so make for excellent butterfly watching. Only the monasteries in Phnom Penh were built on concrete or stone, so I had no luck there.
While on a jungle trek, we had lunch at a river bank teeming with butterflies. The only difficulty was choosing which one to go after! Below is the Common Ciliate Blue (Anthene emolus) sipping minerals from some plastic left behind by other tourists.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/5.6 1/400 ISO 100
At the same location the Common Tit (Hypolycaena erylus)
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/4.0 1/250 ISO 100
Once we had returned to our nice little bungalow in Chi Pat village community, I finally managed to photograph a butterfly against my favourite black background. Below is the Lesser Grass Blue (Zizina otis). This small blue is widespread across the country.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/7.1 1/160 ISO 100
Cambodia also offered me a colourful farewell present. On our final day in Phnom Penh, in the garden of our hotel in the middle of the city (of all places!) the beautiful Painted Jezebel (Delias hyparete) was looking for a place to sleep and landed on a leaf right in front of me. I sprinted back to my room, grabbed the big white 300 2.8 and ran back. Still there! Wow! Breath in….breath out. Blast away. Got it! Look at the screen: sharp. Yes! Look at the screen again: ISO 6400. Grainy, ouch….I have set my tele to a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 to avoid motion blur. It works like a treat, only if daylight fades your ISO increases dramatically. At home I applied 90% noise reduction and the picture cleared up magically. Thank you Canon & Adobe. Thank you Cambodia for a wonderful holiday!
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM f/4.0 1/500 ISO 6400