I have been so impressed with the macro-like capabilities of what I really must stop calling my 'new' lens (it's so old I have almost paid off the interest free credit loan) that it has been getting plenty of use for insect photography. My last visit to Cerne Abbas produced just a single Marsh Fritillary so I had been planning another visit closer to their peak emergence as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
I confess to having a bit of a thing for the underwing pattern of the Marsh Fritillary - surely one of the most attractive, even with the stiff competition offered by other members of that family. But photographing Fritillary underwings is not easy as on the sunny days when they are flying they tend not to reveal the undersides in their full glory for too long. To make matters worse, getting the whole beast in focus requires a high f-stop, which in turn reduces the shutter speed - not great if the butterfly is moving.
Some of the best success I have had in the past is on overcast days, when the butterflies are a bit harder to find but more likely to be encountered with wings snapped shut. So a bit of a 'meh' forecast was enough to get me back to Cerne Abbas last weekend. Fortunately, Marsh Fritillaries had emerged at this site in such numbers that finding roosting individuals next to the paths under the cloudy skies wasn't too difficult. A thoroughly enjoyable spectacle and a credit to the management of this site, by both the landowner and the local Butterfly Conservation volunteers who clear the scrub in winter, where Marsh Fritillaries are bucking the trend of long-term decline elsewhere.