Photography Introduction

/ in Photography by Marek

Back in 2011 my knowledge of photography could have been written on a postage stamp and, like many others embraced this digital age, by leaving the camera in auto and letting the technology do the work.

I would have to step up my game however if I wanted to be successful in capturing images that later could be used for identification purposes.

This is when I realized that my trusty DC210 did have a macro setting which was there for the sole purpose of taking pictures of very small objects.

This meant, however, that I would have to move out of my comfort zone of leaving the controls in auto and use program mode to enable me to select my newly discovered macro facility.

Program mode, I discovered, was the middle ground between fully automatic and manual mode, a setting not for the faint hearted.

Also I now decided after several months of owning the camera to attempt to actually read and digest the user manual where, although most was over my head, I did discover a setting called AF point zoom which I found then, and still do, rather useful.

The AF stands for auto focus and the zoom does exactly what it says on the tin by giving an expanded view of the subject when in focus.

I use this setting to this day to enable me to identify the smaller moths which I find difficult with the naked eye.

Now that I was an 'expert' in macro photography I could consider how best to take my pictures, this being influenced by a number of factors.

Firstly, I had learnt that identification could be rather difficult by just looking at pictures on line and in books especially when the dialog that accompanied them was like reading Greek to me.

My best hope was to take pictures from as many different angles as possible in an attempt to match them with other images, this being a first pass before sending them to my friend who could then tell me how close I was.

The next consideration was where and how to take pictures of the moths I had encouraged into our garden with the trap knowing that I was going to have to pot them prior to taking shots.

Most sites I had seen portrayed moths on leaves and flowers etc, I suppose to give the best possible background for the insect but which I found sometimes rather distracting while attempting my identifications.

If I were to follow this approach it would also mean me first potting the moth and then trying to place it gently on a suitable backdrop as long as, of course, they were agreeable.

It dawned on me quite early on that maybe a more successful method of achieving the results I was looking for would be to take pictures on the pot cover itself which would be no more unnatural than anywhere else and limit distressing my captive more than necessary.

In fact if I stuck to the same background colour for all shots it would mean I would have more control on the final result and there would be much less chance of escapees.

As the flat roof on the garage had just been repaired with a material which was grey on one side and the fact that I had read that gray cards were used in photography to set white balance it was as if fate had leant a hand in making the decision for me.

White balance is a subject which will be mentioned in a future posts but would be out of context here.

Another important factor in identifications is the size of the moth which with a steady hand can be for the most part overcome with the use of a cut down ruler which means that the size remains recorded for the life of the photograph.

Originally there was no thought of publishing my reports with the images within this framework, they being for personal use only, which I called the Mothography and, at the time, included dialogue from my mentor for future consideration.

I have included shots I took in 2011, one being from the Mothography whilst the other being recorded during a walk on the South Downs to give a comparison of the results I was getting at this time.

A web page which was the protoype of the main site, holding a couple images of a moth and some notes about that species
Mothography - Obviously I did not have a steady hand on this occasion
A six-spot burnet resting on a tall stalk of a plant
Field Trip - Sometimes there is a need to get down and dirty.