Yep. That's the reason I used the qualifier "mostly referring to full focal coverage" in there.
Spent so much time worrying about the subject that the background got overlooked.
Well, it's really hard to judge the focus on your image, since you really weren't very close to the subject to begin with, and the size of the image itself is so small. It is a lot harder to get "total focus" with a true 1:1 macro shot, given the limited DOF in macro lenses. Do you have any butterfly images where you got a close enough to the butterfly to get a true 1:1 macro shot, and don't have so much background? I'd sure like to see one that close with "total focus."
It is my belief that successful macro butterfly shots must at least "fill the frame" with the subject butterfly, otherwise they are "snapshots" and not true macro photos. The only exception to this generalization would be if the image is taken as an artistic expression, where the background enhances
the image or if the butterfly is only "part" of the presentation. For example, in another thread ("Tiger in the Sun
"), by Dwayne Oakes, his artistic photo has a great deal of background to it surrounding the butterfly ... but ALL of the background enhances
the overall effect of the image IMO. It is very artistic.
By contrast, in your example, there isn't much "butterfly" to the image at all ... which means there's mostly background ... and said background doesn't do anything positive for the eye of the viewer (a blurred wall, leaves competing with the butterfly, etc.). While I always enjoy viewing any photo of a butterfly, the image you posted would honestly be a "delete" if it came out of my own camera.
Below is an example of a shot I took yesterday of a Long-Tailed Skipper:
for larger image)
To me, most of the important elements of this butterfly are in focus, but at this close proximity (and with the shallow DOF in macro lenses) not every single part will be. Had I gotten much closer, some part of the butterfly would have been cropped.
I believe this photo would qualify just fine for a "species identification" photo in any text- or reference book. I also believe that my background in no way competes with my subject and that my subject really stands out. However, there is nothing "artistic" about the background; it is just a leaf and black space. Thus this image does not have the same "artistic effect" of Dwayne's image of the Tiger Swallowtail.
As we all know, it is hard to get the perfect butterfly to land on the perfect subject, allowing for the perfect overall capture, and all of this serendipity to happen in perfect lighting
For me, the macro ringlight flash really allows me to photograph a butterfly (or moth) to its best presentation, with the understanding that when I use this flash I am not
going to get that "buttery bokeh" that you and Dwayne get shooting without such a flash.
But, for the most part, I am comfortable with that trade-off: the butterfly really "popping" versus a bokeh background.
Thanks for reading,