/ in Equipment, Photography by Marek

When we first became mothers, I was told by our mentor that things would become increasingly easier as we began to recognise some of the more common moths.

This proved to be correct, meaning that more time could be spent on the unknown subjects and upon the photography itself.

I suppose it is human nature to reference other peoples’ work to see how well you are progressing.

For the most part we were happy with our database pictures of macro moths, but this was not the case for the micros, some of which are less than 5mm.

It is extremely important that your shots are clear if you are going to have any chance of the county recorder giving you ‘a thumbs up’ for the ones that can be identified without dissection.

I had spent many hours researching what would be necessary to improve the photography for the site from books, YouTube and the internet in general.

I became fascinated by the people who were experts in extreme macro photography as their pictures opened up a new microscopic world to me.

Although I had no intention so late in life to follow in their footsteps I felt I could adopt some of the techniques in the hope of improving my own photography.

The first obvious step was to buy a DSLR camera and learn how to take pictures without relying on Auto.

When my new toy arrived, I did something unheard of for an engineer and read the manual before I started to play.

The first thing that was apparent is that however many times I read the manual I was not going to find the macro button I had relied on for so long.

The only alternative would be to invest in a rather expensive macro lens or try the technique used for extreme macro photography of using a reverse ring adapter to mount my kit lens backwards.

Although my intention was always to get a pucker macro lens I was seduced by the low price of the reverse ring adapter.

Oh, how I wished I had erred on caution as when I did some tests to see if I could reverse my kit lens I noticed that all my pictures had a nasty black speck on them.

This is where learnt all about camera sensors and how you need to protect them from contamination or lay out more money to get a professional to remove the paint that had come adrift from the cheap accessory I had bought.

I decided after I got my two-week-old camera back from the experts that maybe I would buy a macro lens as even with the exorbitant price it may well prove cheaper in the long run.

I sought advice from my son’s friend whose hobby is photography as to what would be the best macro lens to go for and we decided on 100mm as that would mean that in the field I would not need to get as close as with a 50mm.

My intention was to continue to take my pictures in the morning as normal with my Canon Powershot but spend time with my new camera to compare the results.

It was obvious from the start that even with all the research I had done that a steep learning curve was to be overcome.

As I had read, the Auto mode for macro photography on a DSLR was of no use whatsoever as the camera spent so much time searching for something to focus on the moths got bored and flew off.

So, it was manual mode or bust with its ISO, focal length, shutter speed and f-stops.

My next post will try to explain, in layman’s terms, how I saw the light.

Stock image of someone holding a DSLR camera to take a photo of a sunset, edited to show one of the images of the moths on the screen of the camera
Lights, Camera, Moth