Here is my collection of photographs of British butterflies. Most have been taken around Suffolk and Norfolk especially from my own garden. This is one area of wildlife photography where a hide is seldom of much use. Butterflies are rarely put off my people provided they move slowly. Also they are not active during poor weather so sheltering in a hide is of little value. However they can very often be attracted by planting the correct flowers so container grown nectar sources can provide ideal attractants.
Camera Equipment for British Butterflies
Personally I use the Canon 100mm macro lens most often. This is the older version without image stabilisation so I frequently utilise a monopod to avoid camera shake. I find that it is easier to move around and poke a single leg of a monopod through thick vegetation in pursuit of a subject. I rarely use flash but this is probably more to do with laziness than anything else. Fill-in flash in particular can be extremely useful in many situations.
Just lately I have been experimenting with my 500mm telephoto lens and have been pleasantly surprised by the results. The biggest benefit relates to the fact that there is a much larger working distance between the lens and the subject making it much easier to creep up on timid species. I have also found that a gimbal head and tripod are a great help in supporting the equipment. Even with macro tripods are pretty much essential and having the ability to effortlessly follow a butterfly through the viewfinder is a real pleasure. Obviously the downside is the much greater minimum focusing distance with telephoto does have a bearing on getting a frame-filling image. However this can be reduced by the use of extension tubes. For those who have never used these they can be extremely valuable as they are relatively cheap and have no impact on image quality. Essentially they just add a larger gap between the sense and sensor.