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Butterfly Portraits



Welcome to this website showing photographs of butterflies. This website is for people who share my enjoyment of looking at these beautiful insects and photographs of them. Over 2500 photographs are included of over 225 species, a majority of them found in the south of France. Given Europe has more than 400 species this website is in no way intended as an identification guide. Rather it attempts to show some butterfly species to their best advantage. To misquote from Orwell’s Animal Farm, all butterflies are photogenic, but some are more photogenic than others. So I have collected together around 300 of the most pleasing photographs and put them in the ‘best of portraits’ sections. ‘Best of 1’ includes Swallowtails, Fritillaries and Vanessas. ‘Best of 2’ includes Blues, Coppers and Hairstreaks, and ‘Best of 3’ includes Browns, Whites and Yellows. All these ‘best of’ photographs are also included in the main index of species section. When a species or portraits section is selected the images automatically scroll through at about 4 seconds per photo. Clicking on a photo stops this scrolling and ‘arrows’ appear to allow the viewer to manually move from photo to photo. This may be the best way to view the photos as website memory issues mean loading times occasionally can take too long for all the photos to be seen simultaneously. Species in the index list shown in small text are yet to be illustrated. 

The final main species index section contains over 2000 photographs of wild orchids in various subsections. Some of these sections are still website ‘work in progress’.

The number of photographs of each butterfly species in the main index section varies considerably from one or two to 40 or more of the commoner species such as Black-veined and Marbled Whites. The more frequently a species is encountered the more opportunities for photographic composition. For those who wish to see a comprehensive photograph collection of Europe’s butterfly species, including details of habitat and occurrence etc. the website of Matt Rowlings at, which is almost complete in its detailed coverage is recommended. Also highly recommended are the very comprehensive websites by Roger Gibbons, with excellent quality photographs and personal anecdotes and that of All have accompanying informative text. Guy's has an excellent and useful illustrated daily diary going back many years.

All my photographs are taken with natural lighting. Many of the photographs are taken in the early morning when some butterflies still have dew on their wings. Sunny cool windless mornings are the best conditions for butterfly photography since the butterfly has to warm up in the sunshine before starting its daily round of tasks - feeding and searching for a mate, mating and then laying eggs.

Attractive photograph composition was one of the main reasons for including many of the photographs on the website. But some photographs are included to give interesting additional information e.g. predation by spiders and the result of bird attacks in which the butterfly escaped, often minus part of its wings. Also several show the intrusion of other male butterflies attempting to join a mating pair.

For about 70 of the 2000+ photographs the subject was encouraged to pose on a different leaf, flower head or blade of grass compared to the support on which it was originally found. Movement was usually achieved by encouraging the butterfly to step onto a twig or broken grass stem and then to step off this onto the desired more photogenic support. This obviously can only happen with butterflies unwilling to fly, usually before they have warmed up in the sunshine, or with mating pairs. Such posed photographs are marked with an asterisk. Distance moved was never more than a few meters. On a few other occasions a butterfly was ‘nudged’ so that its wings were perpendicular to the camera lens angle in an attempt to keep the whole of the wings in focus.

John Green

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