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Green-veined Whites

Green-veined whites might just about be the most common butterfly to see in Spring and Summer at least - late Summer and Autumn sometimes bring massive numbers of migrants like Painted Ladies of course - but 2019 seems to have been a surprisingly poor year for them. However, they are common enough in gardens and, well, just about every kind of habitat, that they are easy to overlook.


They are still worthy of attention though, and can be a menace to photograph. Called Green-veined Whites because of the underside markings of apparently green veins, there are (like Orange-tips) no green scales, just white, grey and yellow. Upper wings are largely white, with grey markings, which tend to be smokier in females than males, and more pronounced in the Summer broods than in the Spring. The earlier in the year, the yellower the undersides tend to be too.

I mentioned in an earlier blog about starting out with reverse lens macro photography - this was my first 'successful' butterfly photo. I took this with a reversed 50mm lens on extension tubes, with the on-camera flash. I thought it was fantastic. Not only does she have half a wing, there's half a stalk of knapweed apparently growing out of it too - much to learn! The zero flexibility approach of reversed lens macro photography does not lend itself to butterflies!

This was another fairly early shot - the female can be easily identified from the two wing spots and overall smokier colouration of her upper side.

This was one of my first attempts at focus stacking, with two images combined to make up the final picture.

Colour varies significantly in this species - this being one of the yellowest examples I have come across, at St Cyrus.


The seem to me, however, to be one of the easiest species to encounter mating - and mating butterflies provides a different photographic challenge! They tend to remain pretty still for some time, and can even be encouraged onto a new perch for a better composition - although it feels a bit like interrupting an intimate moment!


Mating pairs can be hard to see, but they are often harassed by other males, so it's worth watching the behaviour of individuals, and they often lead you to others.

They offer an opportunity to get really close and focus on the detail - this is a 5 image stack, shot at f5, 1/160th second at ISO100.

But often it pays to back off and open the aperture a bit, to capture the light - this was shot at f3.5, 1/800th second and ISO200


I spent a long time with this pair, trying different settings, but this is my favourite image from the day, a 9 image stack (which is one image for each butterfly, and the remainder making up the antennae. Even taking hundreds of photos, I still didn't get this perfect, the technique needs work for sure. Shot at f3.5, 1/500th second ISO160.


An easy butterfly to overlook, but worthwhile spending some time on.

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© 2020 By Ben Freeman