“Dad, get your camera!” my youngest son shouted from the back yard. I was inside cleaning up in the kitchen and he was out with my wife planting some strawberries he had brought home from his after-school gardening club, and I couldn’t imagine what on earth would need my attention, and my camera, so urgently. The tone of my son’s voice was all the justification I needed though, and I immediately dropped what I was doing, grabbed my D750 (with 105mm macro lens already attached, thankfully) and ran out to see what was going on. Much to my surprise, my son and my wife were standing just a few feet from what looked like hummingbirds floating from flower to flower in the corner of our yard. My son looked at them, looked at me, gave me a massive grin, and said “See if you can get a picture!”
There wasn’t much time to plan, but I knew I needed a fast shutter speed. And I mean fast. I set my auto-ISO to 1/1500 second, dialed in a pretty wide aperture of f/4, got down on the ground, and set to work. These little creatures were pretty skittish and didn’t stay in one place for more than a few seconds, so I kind of scooted around in a prone position and waited for one of them to come near to me rather than vice-versa. I fired off lots of shots but they were all from a pretty far distance, and I was sure that even if the subject looked interesting the shots would require a pretty fair amount of cropping. That’s how it goes sometimes, but I held out hope that one would eventually get close enough for a better shot.
It took about a minute, but eventually one of them did hover over to some purple blossoms near my camera at which point I stopped down the aperture to keep the depth of field under control, held my breath, and kept taking dozens of pictures. Soon this one positioned itself right in front of my lens. I could hardly believe my luck, and with my son practically squealing with excitement I was able to take the picture you see here.
It is not cropped.
I have taken lots of shots of bugs and insects over the years, and even some bees as they float from flower to flower, but this is far and away the best such photo I have ever been able to capture. The only part of the moth that’s in focus is exactly the part that should be, and its wings have just enough motion blur to let you know how fast they are moving. Its proboscis is about to uncurl to take a sip of nectar from the nearby plant, and everything that’s not the moth or the flower is completely blurred out but still gives a sense of context. Even the brown streak on the left side serves to complement the colors of the moth.
This is one of those shots that I just can’t quite believe I was able to capture, and I’m so glad I listened to my son and didn’t ask questions. I just grabbed my camera and made a run for it, and the result is one of my favorite pictures I have ever taken.