Photograping moths and things ...

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Campercaillie, Jun 2, 2014.

  1. Campercaillie

    Campercaillie Read Only Funster

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    A few years back my sons bought me a moth trap for my birthday. Fascinating to trap them, but I was particularly driven by the photographic opportunities that arose. Many trappers seem to photograph them in natural surroundings, by placing them amongst vegetation etc. But I was keen on keeping controlled photographic records. I eventually settled on a laminated grey card featuring a millimetric grid. And I was quite happy with the results .... UNTIL ..... yesterday evening. I was watching BBC's "I bought myself a rain-forest" featuring Charlie Hamilton-James who, when taking shots of all sorts of little creatures was advocating the advantages of "shooting on white." His insect photos were quite stunning, and I thought I'd give it a go. So I botched up a little white studio from an old shoe box and white card. Fortunately, I had a subject in waiting - a Poplar Hawkmoth which I trapped last night, and so was able to compare it with one I had previously caught and photographed. But now I've done it, I just can't decide which way to go - To continue with the grey card or to switch to "shooting on white." So I thought I'd ask any fellow photographers out there ...... What do you think?

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    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
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  2. NickNic

    NickNic Funster Life Member

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    They both look good but I think the white :thumb:
     
  3. Popeye

    Popeye Funster

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    Totally agree........Griff
     
  4. Wildman

    Wildman Read Only Funster

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    sue says the white but actually I prefer the first photo it give some context to the subject
     
  5. old-mo

    old-mo Funster Extra Special Life Member

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    Grey/White for a dark butterfly and dark colour for a Light coloured one... :thumb:
     
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  6. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    There was something about both photos which stuck me as odd - then it dawned on me - the moths are in a nose dive, i.e. head down, which I think is an unnatural position for them.

    Either head up or photograph from an angle, such as head on although this will probably give depth of field problems.

    You can try chilling them in the fridge for a short spell, you will then be able to get them to sit on a potted plant or whatever. While cold they won't fly or move much but they warm up quickly so you need to be quick! Over-chill them of course and they go to the great moth trap in the sky.

    There is also something a bit flat about the white card shot. Can you put a small slave flash behind the card pointing towards the camera?

    But good pictures of course!
     
  7. Campercaillie

    Campercaillie Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for that. Most moths I will shoot from overhead, mainly for identification. With some I take both overhead and side-on shots, and occasionally, head-on. (Examples on my wildlife site below) The larger moths are invariably quite cooperative and tend not to move, though the smaller ones can be a bit skittish, but as you say, they can be calmed for a while in the fridge. I'm still experimenting somwhat. I decided to avoid flash and the strong shadows they produce (though I haven't tried a slave flash) At present I'm using a slide light-box on its side, with white reflectors, and this gives a nice uniform light. Thanks once again.
     
  8. bilimanjaro

    bilimanjaro Read Only Funster

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  9. Andy

    Andy Funster

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    White background for detail, certainly a coloured one for lighter coloured specimens,.......
    Re lighting, don't know what shooting set up you have, camera etc, but (and I guess its a bit but.......)have you considered a ring flash........? much kinder light output; (although if you don't shoot DSLR/Slr you might struggle to find a set up that doesn't feel top heavy)

    Andy
     
  10. Abacist

    Abacist Funster

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    Photographing Moths and things

    I prefer the darker background as the colour and detail in the moth is better.

    I suspect that the white background has fooled the camera exposure as it seems more "washed out" than the darker photo.

    In addition to the point of comparison the darker background is attractive and gives a sense of scale.
     
  11. Campercaillie

    Campercaillie Read Only Funster

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    Thanks folks for all the replies. I was hoping they would all help me make up my mind.........:Sad: I'll certainly consider all the comments and tips, and I think the best course of action, for the time beaing at least, is to take them in both grey AND white, and hopefully, some time I just may decide which way to go. Certainly a lot of good reading in Bilimanjoro's link re macro photography, and some great examples featured.

    Thanks again! :thumb:
     
  12. Ridgeway

    Ridgeway Funster

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    My father-in-law was an avid lepidopterist and entomologist so I ended up photographing many weird and wonderful creatures. The preferred method was a cardboard box with the front and top cut out and then lined with super bright white linen and light from the top. The box was positioned on the table and we took the pictures from the front at creature height. For his purpose of recording data this was great but it was very clinical so I often set up the same box with some twigs and foliage in and I placed the animal on then for pictures as it looked more natural.

    The box also helps as it stops drafts which often caused the moths and butterflies to fly off.

    Hornets have been my last subject after No4 daughter decided to start to catch them:Eek!: wonderful creatures close up.

    All my close ups are now aquatic:thumb:
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2014
  13. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    i 'capture' them with my special camera.....a rolled up newspaper. :Laughing:
     
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  14. Campercaillie

    Campercaillie Read Only Funster

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    After so many constructive replies? I guess this was inevitable! :Doh:
     
  15. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:

    Only kidding, now wasps are a different 'camera' subject
     
  16. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    And I am sure PJ can recognise a wasp. Unlike those at Derriford hospital in Plymouth. My wife took a tumble on Sunday and I ended up taking her to casualty for an X-ray. By the car park was a prominent sign advising me to keep clear of the bushes because of "hornets". Naturally I wandered over to the bushes to have a look as there is a worry the Asian hornet (vespa vellutina) a dangerous predator of honey bees will sooner or later reach our shores, it already being well established in France. Anyway, the local honey bee population was clearly in fine fettle as the "hornets" were indeed honey bees. The remains of a small swarm from what I could see.

    Wife given the OK, nothing broken fortunately (she has fragile bones) but now limping around the house.

    And should you find a hornets nest, the proper European one, vespa crabo, do marvel at them. Wonderful creatures and quite harmless unless you do something silly and attack their nest, at which point maternal instincts will kick in.
     
  17. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    That's a coincidence, mine was an avid assholerist. :thumb::Wink:
     

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