Shawnee State Forest also produced some noteworthy observations, not the least of which was the flowering of pinxter-flower azaleas, Rhododendron periclymenoides. These small shrubs were near peak bloom, their spindly boughs awash with pink flowers. Every bit as nice as the architecturally interesting flowers was the constant parade of pollinators. Here, a pair of spicebush swallowtails, Papilio troilus, battles for primacy at a particularly coveted snarl of blossoms. Eastern tiger swallowtails, several species of skippers, and both hummingbird clearwing and white-lined sphinx moths also visited.
If you are looking for an especially showy situation in which to photograph butterflies, I would head to Shawnee in the next week or so. Cruise the forest roads and watch for blooming azaleas. Set yourself up in a good position with favorable light and a good backdrop, and let your subjects come to you.
I also learned a new technique for butterfly photography. The azalea featured in this photo was rather high on a steep bank; further than I could comfortably reach with my normal go-to 100 mm macro lens with Canon's twin light flash setup. So, thought I, what the heck, and pulled out my tripod and big 500 mm f/4 II bird lens and attached it to the Canon 7D Mark II. Same setup I'd use to go after songbirds and anything else with feathers. Well, that rig also works very well for butterflies, at least the large ones. The parameters for this shot were f/4.5; shutter speed of 1/3200, ISO 640, and no flash. When I saw this pair of swallowtails bickering and dogfighting, I jacked the shutter speed way up, and that made it possible to freeze both of the rapidly fluttering insects. A nice leafy green backdrop created a pleasing bokeh (background blur).