Saturday, September 03, 2016

Crappy Moth Photographs.

Now that many more people are becoming interested in moths and moth trapping, the internet and social media is saturated with images of the lovely insects being caught. Quite rightly, people who have never seen a Peppered Moth would be well pleased to find one in their trap in the morning, and are keen to capture it for posterity and to confirm their identifications with other like minded observers.

But is it too easy? The reason I ponder this is that there seems to be little care taken over these images of stunning lepidoptera. I mean, when would someone catch a Red Admiral, put it in a plastic pot then take its photo above last nights edition of the Evening Chronicle? Never. It would look awful, seeing a beautiful butterfly against a scruffy bit of plastic wouldn't it, so why would a moth be any different? I even see photos of clearly dead and knackered specimens that have been just left through neglect. Even common things with legs in the air, there's just no need.

Now, I'm not preaching here( maybe I am a bit) because I too am guilty of this. We all are to some degree. Scroll through these pages and you will find moths on old egg boxes and through dirty old pots, and I suppose this will happen for those species that are rare or locally scarce needing a record shot before they fly off. But why on earth would you take a photo of a Buff Arches or Poplar Hawk-moth on an egg tray? You cant get them to fly if you try so why not just take a few minutes to make them look as nice as any butterfly by positioning them carefully on a nice background.

Here are some examples of crappery that I have used in the past -

Both of these are common enough here, so I could have done better than this surely.

If you catch moths why not try this - look for any nice fresh specimen in your trap, something that may catch you eye. If the weather is nice with some good light, use a small stick or something ( I use coffee stirrers, like thin lolly sticks) to gentle slide under the moth, and lift it somewhere that will show it off to its very best. This can just be a large flat leaf or a bit of twig, what ever, experiment with different things. Some will work, others may not, but its worth a try.

Then, take a good few photos, after all, they cost nothing now, from differing angles and sides until you get something that looks nice. After all we are catching wild life here, so we should treat them with some respect...

So, I will say that from now on, I will only post crappy egg box shots or pot shots on here of a species that  a) It is likely to fly off  or b) I've not seen before or is new for the garden and is likely to fly off! Otherwise I will be trying to get something decent of it.

You don't need expensive camera gear, even a phone will do if you just take a little more care.

This is what I am trying for now -

Shoulder striped Wainscot from the summer.

Above - An autumn selection box of Pink barred Sallow, Frosted Orange, Brown spot Pinion, Black Rustic and Bulrush Wainscot.
Next time I post a micro in a hairy scruffy dull plastic pot, feel free to chastise me. We should really try harder!


Fleetwood Bird Observatory said...

Totally agree Stewart! If it is something scarce (for me) I take a record shot on the egg carton, just in case it flies off, and then I move it to some vegetation at the front of my house (to reduce the chance of trapping it again the following night) and photograph it on a more natural background!

I hope you are well?



Amanda Peters said...

I start of with good intentions and love trying new ways to photograph my moths ( I have little disc's of wood to sit them on) it's just after a few hundred a record shot on a egg box will do...Then I find out I have not recorded it before !!!
For Christmas I am getting a little portable light box, hoping to use it for moths, see how we go.
Have a good Christmas and new year..
Amanda xx

Stewart said...

Seamus - 5 years on and I have found your comment thank you! Hope you are both well too... ;)

Amanda - Likewise, apologies for neglect!