Lessons from Ireland

/ in Equipment by Marek
Cartoon of a keyboard and monitor on wheels chasing a butterfly
When the odds are stacked against you

Although a very successful second trip to Ireland, as per my previous post, we did learn a couple of lessons on how we might improve things for our next trip.

It doesn’t matter how hard you try to think of every gotcha, there is always something you’ve missed that serves to bite you on the bum when it’s do late to do anything about it.

As I was now confident in taking my DSLR out into the field it made sense for us to take it with us abroad so that we could get the best possible shots for our records.

Although we had experienced slow network speeds in Ireland on our first visit we were able to overcome the limitations as we were only taking pictures with the Canon Powershot so a full set from each angle would only total seven pictures each of about 3mbs.

The situation changes dramatically if you are taking pictures to stack on a DSLR.

On average I was taking approx. 30 images per angle shot each of which is around 8mb’s which works out at 240mb’s per image.

As you can see the numbers become rather large and although at home we have the technology to cope with the task unfortunately the wife’s tablet connected to an external 1tb USB 2.0 drive ground to a halt.

The best we could do was to take a set of pictures with the Canon for identification purposes followed if necessary by a second set with the DSLR saved over time to the USB drive for processing back at home.

This approach worked, if slowly, but didn’t give us any chance of a second go as at home if the stacked image was flawed in any way.

The second lesson worked to our advantage for subsequent trips abroad as one of the moths my wife was identifying indoors managed to take flight and landed on the glazed window of the back door.

It remained quite still and as the door was facing east it suddenly dawned on me that maybe I could get an underside shot if a grey card was held behind the moth from the inside of the house while I took shots from outside.

Well knock me down with a feather the results were better than I had imagined and prompted some further thought as to how we could simulate this method for future trips if the door wasn’t glazed and facing the right direction.

The direction is important as your body serves to block the sun thus suppressing any reflections.

On returning home I set to work on some prototype underside moth picture stages (PUMPs) to take with us not just for trips abroad but also for use in the field.

After ordering some plastic hinges and nuts and bolts from the orient I came up with the attached Pumps.

The first is designed for the larger moth and hinges flat but can be raised and secured at 90° allowing the placement of the glass background on which the moth is resting.

The second is for the more agile of the micro family, the idea being that once in the box with the lid shut tight, if the subject will settle on the Perspex lid long enough a shot can be taken through the box onto the grey floor below.

Hinged glass boxes for taking photos of undersides on
Don’t forget your plimsoles

Both props have now been used successfully many times in the field and at home and have delivered some pleasing results which will be expanded on in a future post.