12.13.20: Moth and flowers

A golden yellow moth climbs through petunias, Hilliard, Ohio.

A golden yellow moth climbs through petunias, Hilliard, Ohio.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Jul 31, 2005 1:12 PM   
  • Camera: Canon EOS 20D
  • Lens: Canon EF 100-400 f/4-5.6L 
  • Focal length: 400mm
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • Shutter: 1/2000 second
  • ISO: 800

A colorful find just outside my back door

Julie, my wife, does a great job having our house surrounded by flowers during the spring and summer months. Some of the flowers are planted as part of the landscaping, although in recent summers some of the backyard spots formerly occupied by flowers now have tomatoes, basil, parsley and peppers. And some flowers are growing in pots on our deck.

The variety of flowers provides a nice opportunity for me to work on my macro (or close-up) photography. I’ve photographed lilies, daisies, zinnias, geraniums, marigolds, impatiens, petunias, tulips, irises and daylilies without ever leaving the yard.

For this photo, shot in 2005 just months after I purchased my first digital camera, I didn’t even have to leave the back deck. But photographing petunias growing in a pot wasn’t my goal when I stepped out the back door. I had put a telephoto zoom lens on the camera in hopes of getting a shot of some American Goldfinch that were landing on a bush beside the deck. I had walked within six feet of where they were landing without the goldfinch leaving so I thought it would be a good photo opportunity.

That goal disappeared when I glanced at the pot of purple petunias outside the door and saw a golden yellow moth climb from beneath the petals. The stark contrast between colors caught my attention, so I focused on the scene and grabbed a couple of shots before the moth flew away.

I was fortunate in a number of ways. First, obviously, was being in the right position when the moth surfaced from the pot, creating the colorful scene. Second was the midday sunlight that bathed the scene. And third was the lack of wind.

Wind is a significant challenge when shooting close-up scenes outdoors. With the camera that close to the scene, the slightest breeze pushes the subject out of position and out of focus. 

On this day, everything worked in my favor.

The stark contrast between colors caught my attention, so I focused on the scene and grabbed a couple of shots before the moth flew away.