Excel your macro moth photography

Moth of the Xylena genus, photographed 18 September 2020 in Grand Island, NY

Macro photography of insects has taught me more about Mother Earth than any other photography practice. Insects are one of the vital pillars that support the entire animal kingdom. Marco photography requires a calm mind, a steady hand, and patience. Being close to insects opens your mind to unexplored areas of the universe. Moths are especially underappreciated and studied far less than compared to butterflies. With these 3tips, your moth photography will excel making your photos unforgettable.

Moth of the Xylena genus, photographed on 18 September 2020 in Grand Island, NY


Moths began fascinating me back in the summer of 2020. I spent much of my time during quarantine outside. Each night as I returned home they were always fluttering around the porch light by the front door. Quickly I began consistently photographing them, always questioning who each being was. My early photos of moths expressed my lack of knowledge of proper lighting.

A flash is essential when photographing moths at night. Without substantial light, the pictures will be blurry and unusable. My best photographs of moths were taken using only the pop-up flash from the camera body. The light of an external flash is too harsh for the style that I desire. I wrap a piece of printer paper over the pop-up flash, it makes a perfect diffuser as you can see in the photo above. All the delicate intricacies of the moth are captured while also not washing out the details with too much light. ISO should be at least over 1000. Their wings move faster than you’d think and this ensures every photo is crisp!


Nighttime is when most moths are seen fluttering around lamps. The time of night can bring different visitors to your door. In my own experiences I’ve met new moths in the darkest hours of the night that weren’t there after the sun had only set. Pick a night to stay up later, check your lights every 20 minutes! You’ll be happy surprised at who is about at 2:00 AM!


To hold a moth in your own hand is a beautifully soft experience. When picking one up you should always ask permission. Introduce yourself and ask if you may pick them up. I’ve had moths refuse to come near me, but after I remembered to use my manners they happily accepted. As you can see below this Virgin Tiger Moth (Apantesis virgo) stayed with me for quite some time! I kindly asked if I may hold them, I am eternally thankful for the experience and photos that came from it.

Virgin Tiger Moth (Apantesis virgo) photographed 15 July 2021 in Grand Island, NY

Bonne nuit (Goodnight)

After spending enough time with moths your thoughts around them may begin to change. Not only do they fly with grace and passion but they have a true unrecognized beauty. Their diversity is astounding when compared to butterflies. Their importance is vital. They have always kept me company throughout the night, I hope you cal find peace in their presence too.

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