Harsh afternoon sun light is not really a good one to photograph butterflies. I saw this Common Baron Butterfly (Euthalia aconthea) resting on the jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) leaf in my garden, as I returned home for lunch on that afternoon. Luckily it was not sitting in the bright sunlight, but under the shade of the tree. Usually these butterflies are pretty alert and don’t allow you to approach quite close. So I tiptoed towards the butterfly with a long tele lens just to make sure that I don’t miss them. I used Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM with my Canon EOS 5D Mark III to capture it.
Canon EF 70-200mm is not a true macro lens, but was good enough for a considerable closeup. Background area of the butterfly was too bright, I had a problem to contain it. Most of the problem occurs due to speckled light falling all around the subject as well as in the background. I had to position myself so that, the least bright area becomes the background. Simultaneously try to get an optimal look at the butterfly. Fortunately butterfly cooperated with me and I was able to capture enough photos from various angles.
Boldness of the butterfly encouraged me to go closer. I changed to Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM which allowed me to reach much closer to the butterfly. Not having a flash at hand was a hindrance as I had to shoot at higher ISO (ISO 1000) to get f/8 aperture for a larger depth of field. Unfortunately I could get very few photos using Macro lens. It got intimidated by my close presence and as soon as I went very close to it and flew away. There is a certain minimum approachable distance for every butterfly from which you can reach to them. Slow and steady approach holding camera to your face is a much better way to approach a butterfly rather than jumping or chasing it. You have to avoid surprising the butterfly. Once they are accustomed to your presence, slow and gradual approach helps you to get closer to them.
The Common Baron often called simply baron, is a medium-sized nymphalid butterfly native to India and Southeast Asia. It flies with stiff wing beats and often glides. The wing is not flapped very far below the horizontal. The wings are dark brown above with a broad but obscure post-discal band on both wings. A few small white spots define the inner edge of this band. The spots are larger and most distinct in the female than the male. The underside is a paler brown than the upperside. The proboscis of this species is a bright yellow-green.
The Baron is relatively common and is often seen in gardens. Being its preferred host plant, the Mango, the Baron is often attracted to these trees. It is a flighty butterfly, and a strong flyer, alert and difficult to photograph. Both males and females can sometimes be found feeding on overripe fruits.
What’s not so common about this Baron is its camouflage talents during the pupa stage. Many caterpillars are able blend in well with their surrounds but the Common Baron caterpillar is the boss of camouflage – much to the dislike of mango farmers whose trees it likes to feed on. The common Baron caterpillar emerges equipped with small branches extending from its body that later grow and help it become a master of disguise. As it passes from leaf to branch in search of food in the mango and cashew trees, its plant-like texture lends itself perfect camouflage when it crawls over stems of broad, veined leaves.