(Mostly) Moths on Milkweed - June-July, 2013
Stan Malcolm Photos - Marlborough, Connecticut

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Not photographed was a Hermit Sphinx (Sphinx eremitus) observed and captured nectaring at the earliest open blossoms on June 24th.  Photographs were taken over 10 consecutive nights, from June 27th through July 6th.  Moth identifications were by UConn Professor Dave Wagner.

The photos on these pages represent the diversity of species, but not the frequency of each species.  Overall volume of moths was low until July 1st.  Starting July 2nd and 3rd, the volume was much higher, with clouds of moths bursting from the flower clusters as I approached with LED lights.  Prior to July 2nd, there were showers in late afternoon and/or early evening.  On the 2nd and 3rd, the weather remained hot and humid, but without showers.  On July 5th, moth numbers appeared to diminish; more so on July 6th when most of the milkweed blossoms had wilted.

About the Photo Equipment




Photo Equipment and Technique

Photos taken with a Canon 7D DSLR body, Canon Speedlight 580EX II (with a Gary Fong diffuser pointed forward), Canon 100mm Macro lens and an Olympus IS/L B-MACRO H.Q. Converter (close-up lens) mounted with a filter ring adapter. initially, I held a small LED headlamp beside the camera to get sufficient light for manual focusing (by moving the camera, not adjusting the focusing ring which I had preset to the approximate area I wanted to cover).  Later, I swapped the headlamp for a pair of LED book lights mounted on each side of the lens.  Shutter set manually at 1/200th second; aperture set manually at f-14 to f-18; ISO 200.  Speedlight set to ETTL.  Shadows, highlights, and exposure adjusted in Adobe Lightroom 4 from Camera RAW originals.



Note that for daylight flash-supported macro photography, I use several alternative variants on this rig, some using the camera's pop-up flash and foil covered panels left and right to provide indirect, diffuse light on the subject.  The inspiration for these designs is the superb macro photography and clever macro flash rigs of Art Vaughan.  Art is very gracious about sharing designs, part lists, and troubleshooting tips.  (Thanks Art!)