Moth Pictures on Glass Pt 1

/ in Photography by Marek
2x2 grid of photos showing my processing to remove shadow and reflections. Labelled left to right, top to bottom as Picture 1, Picture 2, Picutre 3, Picture 4
Out of the Shadows and Into the Light

Following successful trips to both Northumberland and Ireland I have managed to gather plenty of data for my comparison with pictures taken on glass as oppose to the normal grey uniform background.

In fact, we are still in the process of updating our site as we have managed to amass quite a backlog of images in the process.

I think it’s wise first to reflect on why I started taking pictures of moths on glass.

In truth when we started trapping, I thought that underside shots may help with our identifications.

We soon found out that this was not the case as there were not many examples on line or in books to compare our examples with.

I did however feel that for display purposes the underside shots were a good example of the anatomy of my subjects and may prove of use in the future to other enthusiasts with a similar bent.

It is due to this persistence which has brought me to write a post on the benefits I find for taking pictures of moths on glass to produce the type of displays I am aspiring to.

Consider the picture of the micro moth at the start of this post.

Picture 1 is taken on a solid background and is, I must say, a good example of a micro moth which is no larger than 5mm in length.

This example does not show how shadows can obscure detail when looking closer to the same degree I have experienced with the larger Macro moths.

However if we compare the outer edge of the wing (termen) of this micro moth with Picture 2 taken on glass, we can clearly see that it has some damage in that area.

This micro moth is member of the Gracillariidae family and are extremely difficult to identify from photographs and only then if the example is fresh and undamaged.

Looking at the first image you could be misled into believing that it has three clear markings which we know now is not the case so would, at the very least, have hindered any kind of identification.

We can see looking at the second image, Picture 2, that the reflections however do not interfere in any way with the subject and can easily be removed in post processing.

I have removed the reflections in Picture 3 to show that is does nothing more than leave the complete image without the distraction of the reflection whilst maintaining a consistent background colour.

A further benefit whilst removing the reflections is that I can remove any noise from the background which will almost certainly be there with the settings I am using to produce the stack.

An important thing to consider if you are taking pictures on glass outdoors is that the seasonal position of the sun can help or hinder this method of photography.

If the sun is high in the sky top shots become easy as there is plenty of light and your body removes any reflection entirely, leaving a consistent background colour, so any post processing is straightforward even if you decide to remove the background noise as I tend to do now.

Close up top down shot of a Hebrew Character moth, the receptors on the antenna clearly distinct
Do my eyelashes need a trim?

Picture 4 is not only included to complete the square but to remind me on a future post that I need to discuss colour change when taking shots on glass