Vietnam-based photographer and videographer Tim Gerard Barker recently took a trip to the Banteay Srey Butterfly Center (BBC), to shoot a feature for Fah Thai Magazine for Bangkok airways. BBC is a tourist attraction with a live display of Cambodian butterflies. Tim had previously been in touch with the editor at Fah Thai for a different story, so when he let them know that he would be heading to Siem Reap to attend the Angkor Photo Festival, the magazine gave him a few different assignments.
The story was written in advance, and because BBC was happy to get the publicity, they were extremely helpful and welcoming of Tim. They even opened the center early when the light was at its best, lent him a scooter, and organized hammocks for a night out in the national park. Sounds like a pretty sweet gig!
Tim spent four full shoot days before “locking himself in his hotel room” to tone the images before a tight deadline.
Of course, no shoot comes without its challenges, this one, in particular, being figuring out the best type of lens to use for such beautiful and intricate subjects:
For most of the butterfly images I used my 100mm F2.8 macro lens, — I’d never used it for insect work before so I did some research in advance and most people recommended shooting at high apertures with flash. I experimented with this on the first day and when I didn’t like the results, I decided to revert to what felt natural and from then on shot most of my images shallow at f2.8. Getting close enough to butterflies to fill the frame was also harder than I expected. If I moved too quickly the butterflies would fly away so I developed a technique where I would spot a butterfly in good light and then shoot from afar to get my exposure and then slowly and quietly move in taking another frame with each small step forward.