Photo Stories

Photo Story: Monarch Caterpillar Munching on a Leaf

I came across this Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens near Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  This guy was busy munching on leaves to grow and prepare for its metamorphasis, and he let me take quite a few photos while he ate.

Monarch Caterpillar Munching on a Leaf 

Monarch Caterpillar Munching on a Leaf

Monarch butterflies in the caterpillar stage do nothing but eat.  In two weeks after hatching the Monarch Caterpillar will be full grown and will attach itself to a plant stem and use silk to transform into a chrysalis from where it will emerge as a butterfly.

I did not take my tripod into the gardens, so the shot was taken hand held with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Camera and the Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.  I find this a good combination to photograph gardens.  The Olympus OM-D and 60mm macro are small and light to carry around gardens.

The camera has a articulated LCD screen which is useful for high or low compositions.  You can also review taken photos and the histogram in the electronic viewfinder which is great for sunny days when the LCD screen is difficult to see.  The Olympus 60mm macro is a sharp lens with a large focus ring for manual focus.

I used a large aperature f4.0 for the photo to blur out the leaves in the background of the photo while still keeping most of the caterpillar in focus.

Details

Camera:  Olympus OM-D E-M1
Lens:   Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro Lens
Focal Length: 60mm
ISO:  400
Aperture:   f/4.0
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 of a second
Exposure Compensation: -3/10
Lighting: Sunny Morning

Processing

  • Cropped the photo in Lightroom 5.
  • Selectively lightened and darkened the image using Viveza 2 from Google.
  • Added Contrast to the photo using the Flower III filter in Topaz Clarity.
  • In Color Efex Pro 4, I Used the Detail Extractor, Darken/Lighten Center to bring out detail in the Caterpillar and make the Caterpillar stand out as the subject of the photo.
  • Removed a distracting leaf from the photo using the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop CC 2014.
  • Selectively removed noise from the photo using Topaz DeNoise and a layer mask in Photoshop CC 2014.
  • Selectively sharpened the image using the Unsharp Mask filter and a layer mask in Photoshop CC 2014.  I copied the layer mask from the prior step and inverted it.

Written by Martin Belan

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