The Butterfly Whisperer

Click here to see the full size image from a photo shoot I did over the weekend. Yep, it’s a butterfly and yep I really know how to party on the weekends don’t I? ;) I thought I’d share my editing process. First… the shoot. I actually bought a couple Monarch butterflies from a website. I’d tried my hand at going to a butterfly garden but it didn’t turn out well, so I figured a more controlled environment would be better (like my house). Next, I set everything up on my back porch at around 6pm with the sun still overhead but going down. I used a:

– Nikon D-200 with the Nikon 105mm Macro VR lens (which I LOVE!) and everything was shot on a tripod
– My wireless cable release really saved the day.
– Since I was outside my Hoodman Loupe was critical. It made knowing whether or not I got “the shot” so much easier.

This shot was one of my favorites so here’s what I did in Lightroom.
White Balance: The original was a little too warm so I cooled it a bit with the Temperature setting.
Exposure: The Exposure didn’t need much tweaking but I found the flower overpowered the butterfly so I decreased it a bit (more on this in a minute). I left Recovery and Fill Light alone and increased the blacks just a little.
Presence:I bumped the Clarity up to around 50 and increased the Vibrance just a little since the overall color was already pretty vibrant.
Tone Curve:Used the Medium Contrast curve.
HSL/Color:Used the Target Adjustment tool in the HSL/Color panel to increase the orange saturation on the butterfly.
Photoshop:I used a Curves adjustment layer and my painting with light technique to lighten the butterfly since I wanted to draw more attention to it. I used the Burn tool to darken a few areas on the wing and finished off with some sharpening. Finally, I add a slight lens vignette back in LR to darken the edges a little. So there ya have it. The story of how I became the butterfly whisperer :)

Author: Matt Kloskowski

Matt is the full-time Director of Education for Kelby Media Group and a Tampa-based photographer. He's the Editor-in-Chief of Lightroom Magazine, the lead instructor on the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom LIVE Seminar Tour and author of several best-selling Photoshop books. Matt also hosts the world's top Lightroom blog,, where he's built up a massive library of Lightroom videos, presets and tips. In addition to teaching Photoshop, Lightroom and photography seminars around the world, he's an instructor at Photoshop World and one of the full-time staff writers for Photoshop User Magazine.

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