Making more of my kinda weird hobby?
June 10, 2012 12:59 PM   Subscribe

I like taking pictures of moths. Is there any way I can refine my hobby or challenge myself?

While I'd like to get a better camera sometime within the next year, right now I'm working with a Sony Cybershot DSC-H3. Since I hate taking pictures with flash, I'm becoming known in my area for stalking from light source to light source at all times of the night, taking pictures of the moths that hug the walls and floor.

I can't yet show my pictures here (since I've had to order a new cord to upload from my camera), but so far I've happened upon some beautiful creatures. I enjoy the fact that neither myself nor random people (who happen to walk by and ask me what I'm doing) would otherwise notice these beautiful creatures without moving in close enough to kiss 'em. So far I've only identified the Pandora Sphinx, so I know part of the challenge is identifying the rest.

Is there anything else I can do to make my hobby more interesting? I know at some point that I'm going to start seeing the same moths and while certain favorites have already become the subjects of multiple sessions, I don't want this to get boring. I've found all of the light sources in my area that I'm going to find (I don't have a car), and bring my camera with me everywhere just in case.

I'm not quite sure what to ask other than "any tips?" I'm also a birder, so I may start keeping a moth life list as well.

posted by DisreputableDog to Science & Nature (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Your hobby is a delightful one. I do pretty much the same thing although my primary fascination is with dragonflies, but I love getting macro shots of critters that most people find loathsome and ooing and ahhing over the details.

Since you're doing this at night, how about bringing a flashlight and make some creative filters to tape over it? Textured paper, colored tissue paper, that sort of thing. Maybe even try different light bulbs, if that's an option. And fiddle around with mirrors or reflective surfaces, maybe?
posted by Gator at 1:07 PM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Just as one data point -- if I came across "my moth photography blog" on Mefi Projects, I would totally follow it.
posted by neroli at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Most people who photograph insects do use a flash, in fact, they often use quite elaborate flash setups. This is one way to develop your hobby into something technically and aesthetically excellent. There's nothing inherently wrong with flash - after all, it's just a light - it's all about how you use it, which is actually a technical and aesthetic challenge all its own.

Alternately (since your camera might not work with those flashes), you could work on your personal body-based technique - stance, camera support, etc.

Alternately, you could focus hard on composition. It's one thing to catch such a bug, it's another thing to make the pic really interesting.

Alternately, you could devise interesting ways to use lights to call certain bugs to you. I love this option because all you really need is your own lamp and location and you can set things up photographically in advance.
posted by fake at 1:31 PM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Also many insects photograph differently under ultraviolet light. Perhaps you could tape a UV flashlight to your camera. The one Inova offers is particularly good.
posted by fake at 1:34 PM on June 10, 2012

If you do get a flash (maybe a special ring flash), maybe you'd enjoy macro photography. Look into getting a macro lens.
posted by amtho at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2012

Definitely a macro lens if you don't already have one. And yes, I would totally follow a moth photography blog.
posted by Ruki at 2:56 PM on June 10, 2012

Get yourself some Raynox macro lenses. Simply awesome. You can check out some samples of my work with them in my profile.
posted by sanka at 4:08 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might get some ideas from artists the Starn twins' Attracted to Light.
posted by xo at 4:47 PM on June 10, 2012

Response by poster: Unfortunately my current camera doesn't allow me to attach other lenses. It's kind of a point and shoot but with tons of settings and fairly decent "macro". Not professional macro but close enough to see the soft antennae of a moth fluttering back, like a woman's tresses, in the wind.

I love the macro lens recommendations though and they've gone into my "next camera w/accessories" wish list.
posted by DisreputableDog at 5:03 PM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Please note, the Raynox accessories are not lenses, but rather diopters - attachments that go on the front of your camera. They are usable with the a large number of point and shoots. The link I posted is taken by a guy with a high end point and shoot, and raynox diopters.
posted by smoke at 5:16 PM on June 10, 2012

Just want to tempt you with Butterflies Go Free – which also includes moths – at the big greenhouse of the Montreal botanical garden in early spring.
posted by zadcat at 6:13 PM on June 10, 2012

Best answer: Might I recommend iNaturalist.
posted by buttercup at 7:04 PM on June 10, 2012

You may also find this article very helpful.
posted by smoke at 5:01 PM on June 12, 2012

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