The highlight of our trip was spending a day at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix. Thanks to a recent post on a crafter/photography blog I follow, I learned of the Butterfly Pavillion there, so of course, I had to go for that, as butterflies are quite possibly my favorite subject to photograph.
However, as seems befitting of my luck at such times, the autofocus on my telephoto lens decided this was a perfect time to crap out. Trying to shoot small, detailed moving objects with manual focus and vision that isn't what it used to be resulted in a large percentage of out of focus and otherwise poor photos. Now that my less-than-three-year-old Nikkor lens is a glorified paperweight, I'm going to upgrade to a better version.
Some interesting things we learned about the Butterfly Pavillion: it is classified as a containment exhibit, which means that none of the butterflies, including those indigenous to the region, are raised there. All come from butterfly farms, and are overnighted to the facility after they emerge from their pupas, in chilled containers. In fact, a shipment arrived while we were there, and everyone who wanted was able to participate in the release of the butterflies.
They arrive in glassine envelopes, wings folded, usually two per envelope for smaller species. To release them, the edge of the envelope is torn off, the top and other side opened. As the sun warms them, they begin to move and will either fly or crawl out to a nearby flower. Volunteers with synthetic feather dusters go around and pick up those that fly to the ground so they don't get stepped on.
Anyway, until I finish up my latest studio painting, here are some photos of the butterfly exhibit. I'll post some of the botanical images later.
|Male Queen butterfly on unopened yellow columbine|
|Pair of Julia Heliconians - a tropical longwing - on a bromeliad|
|Zebra Heliconinan - a tropical butterfly native to southern FL|
|Common Buckeye - a striking member of the Brushfoot family found throughout much of the southern US|
|Painted Lady butterfly - one of the most common butterflies in the US|
|Male Pipevine Swallowtail on petunia|
|Zebra Heliconinan - top view|
|Female Pipevine Swallowtail|