MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

August 17, 2013

Photo buffs focus on butterflies

By Travis Sloat
Phoenix Staff Writer

— If a butterfly flaps its wings at Honor Heights Park, does the air flow help draw photographers for a lesson?

Such was the case on Saturday morning at the Georgia Pacific Butterfly Garden. The Muskogee Shutterbug Club presented a free and hands-on tutorial on how to better photograph the insects.

David Jones, the president of the club, said they have been trying to do at least one lesson a month for new and prospective members.

“The club likes to have outings,” Jones said. “This is a way to get new people in and teach them how to shoot some basic things. In the last few months we’ve done shoots of the moon and practiced strobe photography.”

The Butterfly Garden was full of new butterflies and experienced photographers on Saturday morning, the sound of shutters clicking drowning out the whisper of wings.

Robert Atchley, a club member, gave his own personal tips for capturing butterflies on film while chasing an elusive Yellow Swallowtail.

“You need a narrow depth of field and a fast shutter speed,” Atchley said. “Those are two of the tricks I start with. I also find a mono or tripod helps, and believe me, you need lots of patience and you have to shoot lots of pictures.”

A broad variety of cameras were used in the lesson, high-end digital single-lens reflex cameras as well as simple point and shoot models. Members quietly moved through the garden, adjusting settings on their cameras and kneeling to capture the fluttering of wings.

Nancy Gassaway, a club member for two years, said all of the monthly tutorials have been very interesting.

“I’ve enjoyed them immensely,” Gassaway said. “I’m glad we get to come out and do these kinds of things. It’s very informative, and it gives me the chance to shoot things with a different emphasis.”

Some of the photographers became the source for amusing photographs themselves when, while taking their own pictures, a butterfly chose to land on their clothing.

Amidst discussions of ISO settings, Jones said the club plans to shoot the Art Deco District in Tulsa next month.

“We’ll also use the winter months to do a light box class,” he said. “That will give people the chance to shoot studio photographs. We also do a teaching session at our Tuesday night meetings for 30 minutes. We’ve gone to the Royal Gauntlet in Coweta to film predatory birds as well.”

Jones also extended an invite to those in the community who are interested in becoming members, or who just want to learn how to use their camera better.

“We’re the oldest club in Muskogee,” he said. “Our classes are perfect for beginner, intermediate and advanced photographers. Explore your creative side, improve your photo skills, and experience the joy and satisfaction of this great hobby.”

Reach Travis Sloat at (918) 684-2908 or tsloat@muskogeephoenix.com.