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.