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Black Swallowtail on Thistle

Black Swallowtail on Thistle
Photo Information
Copyright: Ken Slade (Ken52) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 636 W: 93 N: 1243] (4195)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-05-13
Categories: Insects
Camera: Canon 350D (Digital Rebel XT), Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, 58mm circular polarizer
Exposure: f/8, 1/400 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): jmp *2 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2007-08-04 13:47
Viewed: 3745
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 88
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this photo back in May when the thistles were still blooming along the hike and bike trail.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Description: The black swallowtail is a black butterfly with yellow markings near the margins of the forewings and hindwings and more limited blue and red markings on the hindwings. Its wing span can reach 4 ˝ inches. Full grown parselyworms or caterpillars can reach 2 inches in length and are smooth and green, marked with black bands and yellow spots.

Life Cycle: Winter is spent in the chrysalis (pupa) stage. Adults emerge in the spring and seek host plants. Females lay round, yellow to cream colored eggs on the leaves. Caterpillars hatching from eggs are initially black with a white saddle. After molting several times, each larvae transforms into a pale green chrysalis that is suspended from a plant stem by a thread.

Habitat and Food Sources: Caterpillars have chewing mouthparts. Adults have siphoning mouths. Host plants of the caterpillar include members of the parsley family (Umbelliferae) including carrot, parsley, dill, fennel and Queen Anne's lace and some members of the Rutaceae (Ruta graveolens and Thamnosma texana). This caterpillar is bad tasting to birds and other predators because of toxins absorbed from the host plants. Like other larvae of swallowtail butterflies, parselyworms have a defensive structure, called an osmeterium, right behind the head. This structure is usually concealed. However, when disturbed this "Y" or "V" shaped organ is inverted. It emits a strong odor that is apparently distasteful to predators. This butterfly is easy to attract and raise by planting dill or fennel in your vegetable garden.

Source: http://insects.tamu.edu/fieldguide/cimg266.html

Aperture = f8.0
Shutter = 1/400s
ISO = 400
Focal Length = 200mm
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens

nglen, jmirah, peter_stoeckl, jmp, oscarromulus, jaycee, rousettus, gracious, marhowie, Matt-Bird, scottevers7, mikou, Necipp, mayuresh, mjaniceanne, go2stones, angybone, deblink, cecilia, snowfalken, nainnain, lawhill, Evelynn, carper, Debz, pablominto, Perro, Tamrock, keanhoon has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To deblink: ThanksKen52 1 08-05 18:04
To nglen: Condition of ButterflyKen52 2 08-04 14:55
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2007-08-04 13:50]
  • [+]

Hi Ken. my butterfly looks so sad next to yours.
The detail and focus is first class. excellent colours.the flower is very good too. very well done TFs. great notes too.
have a good sunday..

  • Great 
  • jmirah Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 509 W: 5 N: 1141] (4687)
  • [2007-08-04 14:09]

Hi Ken,
A really super shot of flower and butterfly against a great BG...Color, detail, exposure, DOF are all excellent...Very wll captured...


hi ken,
beautiful composition !
stunning details and sharpness.
marvellous lightning and great vivid colours - like the dark and pink combination.lovely clear BG.
TFS - carole

Hi Ken,
most elegant, perfectly composed capture with excellent colours and details, iconically reduced to the essence.
So nice to see a glimpse of the right wing, too. That adds a lot to the three-dimensional and dynamic appearance.
Beautiful. Thank you!
With best regards,

  • Great 
  • jmp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1659 W: 95 N: 2273] (8415)
  • [2007-08-04 14:18]

Hi Ken,
Really smart photo with an outstanding color contrast between the black butterfly and the thitle flower. A well composed and artistic shot!
TFS, José M.

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2007-08-04 14:21]

Hi Ken,

A beautifully composed picture of this Swallowtail and Thistle. Magnificent colors, razor sharp details and a perfect background. Just wonderful!


Both, the Butterfly and the Flower, can be described with only one word: OUTSTANDING.
Great piece of work.
Mario from Calgary with friendly greetings.

Hi Ken
Very nice shot, colour, composition, buterfly, flower, details, ..... congratulations

Hi Ken,
excellent shot of this beautiful butterfly. wonderful composition, nice details, sharpness. POV great. good notes. TFS
have a nice weekend

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2007-08-04 16:20]

fantastic shot ,very very nice


Great capture. Love the colors and the framing seems to make the image balance well.
Very Nice.


Hi Ken,
Great macro again.
The butterfly flower combination is very beautiful and they do fit perfectly together.
Technically flawless shot with excellent DOF, sharpness and lighting.
Colors and details are most wonderful and the soft color tones in the background are very pleasing.
A real joy to look at.
Thanks for sharing.
Have a nice Sunday,

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2007-08-04 20:46]

Hi Ken,
Wonderful shot of the Black Swallowtail on the pink thistle. Immaculate sharpness and lovely colours with spot-on focus. Looks charming and beautiful set against the neutral BG. Excellent POV and a superb composition. Kudos.

Hi Ken,
This is really a wonderful capture the stage couldn't be any better than the beautifully bloomed thistle your subject sits upon. DOF really punches your subject out right at the viewer. Well done. :)

  • Great 
  • mikou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 869 W: 68 N: 1479] (6093)
  • [2007-08-04 23:08]

Hi Ken.
Another amazing picture of butterfly in your gallery,my friend.Excellent exposure and focus with great sharp reproductions of all beautiful details.Composition is superb as well as your used point of view.Colors are wonderful and your butterfly and also thistle looks against soft blurred BG really beautifully.Congrats and thanks for sharing.
Have nice sunday,greetings Milos.

Hello Ken,
Absolutely quality photo in perfect sharpness!
good exposure and focus with f8, 1/400s and iso 400!
this is something to learn and thanks for the sharing!
very nice bg colour against the subjects
very well done and well seen, Ken

Hi Ken,
Superb shot.
Excellent compo and colours.
I do like the light and the BG.

Hi Ken,
This is a real beauty of a photo. That dark butterfly just jumps out of the photo. Great detail and sharpness.
smiley later.

Hello Ken superb quality great DOF sharp everything but the smooth blurred background nice pov and excellent light tfs rgds Necip.

Hi Ken,
Most wonderful shot,excellent composition and great pov and sharpness marvellous colours and superb lighting and focusing.
very well done.

Such a sharp, perfectly positioned shot! Maybe someday I will get there with my butterfly pictures! Thanks for the notes especially about the dill and fennel.

Tack sharp as usual! All aspects right on the money!

Well done,

A real beauty!!! I wondered when you'd taken this one. We have a few thistles left but very few...we also have a few paintbrushes and bluebonnets. It's kinda odd. ;)
This is yet another great shot!!!

hello ken,
this is excellent shot, sharp image with good details, lovely colours, well composed shot,
very well done,
tfs & regards

  • Great 
  • GLEM Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor [C: 540 W: 87 N: 750] (10)
  • [2007-08-05 8:37]

hi KEN,
tu as vraiment la chance d'avoir autant de beaux spécimens dans la région, et de le conjuger avec ton talent de photographe. Magnifique POV, couleur et netteté.

Hi Ken, Great shot. Wonderful composition, colours good. Very sharp. Pefect BG.

good work, regards, Kiran

Hi Ken,
This one really stands out for the beautiful colors and tack sharp detail. Such a nice clean OOF backround. Very well composed and framed. A real beauty!

oops! back for the well deserved :)

hello ken,
what an outstanding black color!!!and perfect BG!!!!
thanks ken,and thanks for your critique on my grasshopper!

Hi Ken,
What a glorious image of this wonderful looking Butterfly. The Butterfly's colours and shape are superb. You image of the Butterfly is just superb too. Wonder sharpness with excellent detail. Here in Australia the Thistle is a weed but gee it is pretty, I love its colour. A superb image.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2007-08-05 20:39]

Hello Ken

Wow a clean image with superb clarity.The POV and DOF are excellent.The lighting is very good,with wonderful colour saturation.The OOF BG is a perfect back drop for this beauty.The focus is spot on with sharp details.TFS



Stunning Ken, superb detail and lovely colours.
Well done...

Hello Ken,

This is absolutely beautiful and will go straight to my favorites! I am especially impressed by the way you exposed the black parts of the butterfly. It is outstanding!


The composition is simple and perfect! No distracting objects, just the subject on an almost plain background. The empty space was distributed nicely and the image is balanced. The subjects are perfectly isolated by such an amazing background. Well done!


The colors were reproduced very accurately. They are well saturated and look natural. I like the textures in the butterfly's wings and the nervures that flow across them.


The overall contrast was very well adjusted to emphasize all those details and the colors contrast strongly on the black wings. This also helps isolating the subject.


This is what I like the most! The way you exposed the black tones! The details on the wings are very well defined and still the wings are black. The noise level is pretty low for an ISO 400 exposure. Actually I thought it was ISO 100. You probably didn't crop or cropped very little so that the original image is much bigger. A great advantage to fill the frame with the subject.


The focus is very accurate to render sharp details in the butterfly. It's always good to shoot perpendicularly on the wings to make sure no sharpness fall-off occurs due to the shallow DOF. Unfortunately, butterflies don't always strike the desired pose when we shoot them. Nevertheless, the shallow DOF has a great advantage: it renders beautiful backgrounds like this one.

An outstanding job MF! Well taken and accompanied by well written notes. Thanks for sharing!

With Friendly Regards,

Hello Ken
Fabulous pic, the contrast black-pink is oustanding, perfect focus with many details, very nice composition and pretty background,
many thanks for shared,

Excellent capture Ken..I've shot these things and they can be very difficult because they're always on the move.
Top shot :)
Very well done.

tout le monde se jette sur les papillons
bravo pour cette présentation, belles couleurs nettes, félicitations, merci du partage

Hi Ken,
Great shot perfect exposure, nice colors
and sharpness focus beautiful composition,
wel done. Best regards/Lawhill

This is another beautiful shot Ken. I like how you simplify the composition by isolating the subject against a neutral background. Beautiful work.

Evelynn : )

  • Great 
  • carper Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1973 W: 119 N: 2582] (8439)
  • [2007-08-08 10:29]

a very nice one Ken,
the shot is well taken, the point of view is good and the quality is fine, good constrast and fine dof, good photojob here. Well done, I like it.
gr. jaap

Hi Ken,
Wonderfully sharp detailed image of the Swallowtail.
Nice composition and POV.

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2007-08-09 13:34]

Hi Ken ! Very good macro, very sharp, great pov and superb background. Thanks !


  • Great 
  • Debz Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 505 W: 0 N: 847] (3307)
  • [2007-08-10 7:19]

Hi Ken, detail and sharpness in this shot are outstanding. Perfect focus and very well composed. Both the Butterfly and the thistle are superb. Light and colours wonderful with a perfect dof. Excellent.

Hello Ken,
A clear sharp image, and the beautiful butterfly seems to be unharmed!
Lovely patterns in the wing is well reproduced, with good clarity in colours...
Pleasant composition, a dynamic impression!
Pablo -

  • Great 
  • Perro Silver Star Critiquer [C: 41 W: 0 N: 59] (553)
  • [2007-08-26 18:57]

Hello Ken,
Perfectly composed capture with stunning details and sharpness.
I like the combination of the pink flower and the black butterfly on a nice soft background.
It's what I call an artistic photo! I just love it!

hello ken!
very beautiful with perfect
composition and really good
very good!

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