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Night Moth Pictures

A few nights ago we got back to our house after nightfall. On the way into our house, my wife noticed a leaf that was hanging “funny” off of one of our trees. It turned out to be a really interesting moth. Of course I wanted to get a picture of it.

I brought out my Nikon D-700 with my 70-300 lens mounted. This lens offers VR capabilities, but that still didn’t change the fact that I needed a light source. I was going to use flash for the photograph, but I could not see the moth to focus! I thought my camera had a focus-assist light, but at the time it was not coming on and I did not have time to figure out what was wrong, or even if my memory was incorrect. As a quick solution, I simply asked my wife to hold a flashlight on the moth so I could focus, and then the flash would illuminate the moth for the photograph.

I was quite pleased with the results. I ended up using manual focus. The combination of camera flash and flashlight illumination came out better than I expected. Here’s a picture cropped to show the moth hanging from the tree branch.

Here is a version that I have cropped all the way into the moth detail. The amount of texture and color is amazing. The focus point was on the head of the moth, so the eye shows up quite clearly. The antenna are great too, but what really amused me was how clearly the moth’s “toes” show up.

One of the tips to share here is I had two different angles to consider shooting from. One angle put the moth in front of a bunch of lights from the skyline. The other angle had me shooting towards my neighbor’s back yard, which had no lights. That was obviously the better choice because I don’t have any light pollution showing up behind the image. So in this case, I guess I was shooting a “moment of darkness” instead of light. :)

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