Midway through my recent Ecuador trip an ant photographer’s nightmare came to pass.
My trusty MP-E 1-5x macro, the lens responsible for 95% of my images since 2003, died. The electronics failed with the iris stuck full open, rendering it incapable of providing any depth of field. It became a doorstop, essentially, and there was no easy way to replace such a rare and specialized lens while traveling through a country too small to host a single Canon dealer.
I can’t describe the frustration. Three weeks left on an ant photography expedition, in a forest with the richest ant fauna in the world, and I was impotent. Without the means to photograph insects less than a centimeter in length- which is most ants (gasp!)- it was like I was stuck in an ice cream store without a spoon. I had passable back-ups for all my other gear. I had multiple flash units. I had two camera backs. I even had two wide-angle lenses. But the one piece of irreplaceble gear- the $900 one- was the one that gave out.
What does this have to do with owl butterflies?
Well, I could still photograph larger insects. So butterflies it was. I ordinarily feel like a sellout shooting such obvious, gaudy insects. I mean, they are practically birds. But what choice did I have?