tattered butterfly clings to fingertips

Last Sip

I discovered this tiger swallowtail butterfly struggling in the tall grass. He was pretty tattered. I boosted him up to an ironweed bloom for a meal. He immediately began drinking nectar from the flowers, pictured below. Hopefully my random act of kindness will buy him a little more time to a very brief life.

Pardon the colorized butterfly cliché, but I like the look for this specific instance. I took the images with a Nikon D90, Micro-Nikkor 60mm AF macro lens, and a Nikon SB-600 SpeedLight diffused with a rubbing alcohol bottle

Ironweed is a challenging flower to photograph because the purple just will not come out in camera. It wants to fade from a rich purple to a bluish color of some sort. I find that underexposing the photograph then bringing it back up in post-processing tends to do a better job of keeping the color, but it is still not perfect.

UPDATE September 6: My friend the swallowtail made it through the night. I found him clinging to the blooms on the same ironweed this morning. He had not left; I presume he can’t fly, and he knows it. He was enjoying the sun, at least, and still had plenty of blossoms handy for nectar. I grabbed another photograph of his bedraggled backlit by the morning sunshine, at the end of this post.

Swallowtail Butterfly on Ironweed

Swallowtail Butterfly on Ironweed


detail of tattered butterfly wing

The tattered swallowtail still on the ironweed the next morning

6 thoughts on “Last Sip

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  3. Even though he’s a bit bedraggled, he is still a beautiful butterfly. Thanks for the hint about photographing purple flowers – I will bear it in mind next time I’m photographing similar flowers.

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