I located an area in a state park, not far from my home, a few years ago that is parallel to the Mississippi River. The park has a creek that carries water from the bluff areas of the park into the lowlands and eventually into the river. Each July this particular area produces a bloom of these yellow flowers. They range from 5 to 8 feet high. Once they have bloomed the butterflies began coming. The past week I was about a week early, there were butterflies, but probably by the next weekend the flowers will be covered and by late August into September the Monarchs will arrive. The challenges for me are:
1. Right time of day. I was just scouting so I was there when the light was low and many shots I had to use too high an ISO. It is tricky getting dynamic light that allows detail in the butterfly without blowing out the flowers. So early morning or mid to late afternoon work better for me.
2. I use a monopod. The area is ripe for snakes so I stand on a cleared area in front of the flower area and use a zoom. These were shot with the Sony RX 10 MkIII. I also utilize stabilization even when using the monopod.
3. I watch their activity for 15 minutes or so before I shoot to detect patterns. It seems there are particular flowers to which they are attracted more than others. Once I see one approach a flower twice, or two or three approach the same flower I will set up my monopod and wait. I'll usually get a subject in a short time.
4. I wait on a composition. I am not the most patient person but I've learned to wait until they crawl around on the flower and get into a position that creates a decent composition.
They really are gorgeous, Brent. I have a friend who likes shooting butterflies and dragonflies and their ilk, and her words of wisdom echo yours. The most important being patience. Alas I dont have much