Night Macro

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017

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They say night time is the right time, and this applies to macro photography as much as anything else.

Great for Amateurs

Night time macro has the big benefit that if you're a working person like myself, it means you can get some macro time every day after work, especially in the autumn when dusk may fall before you manage to get home in time to do some macro.

Insects At Night

Night macro

You won't see the same variety of insects at night that you see during the day, but you will catch glimpses of others that remain hidden away during the day.

You won't see the same variety of insects at night that you see during the day, but you will catch glimpses of others that remain hidden away during the day.

The main absence seems to be everything that looks vaguely fly-like. They're sleeping, hidden away deep in the leaves and hedgerows.

But there is a lot more arthropod activity from the walking kind at night.

UV At Night

Another fun night macro thing to do is to do some UV fluorescence photography. To see fluorescence you need a suitable excitation source, and there are perfectly affordable consumer torch options available to achieve this. LED technology is advancing especially rapidly at the moment, and it won't be too long before even more and better photography UV lights become available. And the El-Nikkor 50 has excellent UV transmission characteristics.

Night Macro Technique

Night macro is usually done using flash but of course, being night time, you need something to shine a light with.

A headlamp is better than nothing but the problem is that your flash or camera will get in the way of your light when you're bent down, focusing, and need that light the most.

My nighttime rig involves a mount that I made from GoPro parts which gives me an extra helping hand on my camera onto which I mount a small torch.

Night Insects

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers
  • Millipedes
  • Moths
  • Slugs
  • Snails
  • Spiders

That way the torch lights up the subject so I can focus easily for a flash shot.

My second nighttime rig is a pair of stacked Raynox diopters using the built in focusing light on a Pentax AF160FGZ ringflash.

Other Insects At Night

There are also other ways of attracting the night time insect, for example using a moth trap.

Mothtraps are very convenient albeit a bit on the pricey side.

Comments (2)

Article: Night Macro
Harold Gough says...
"I recently purchased a Yato Professional pocket torch". It has a 3W Cree diode and runs of one AA battery. It cost £10. My main reason for purchase was that I use manual focus lenses with very small effective apertures for macro and, except in bright sun, not enough light gets to the sensor for it to form a steady image. I use a couple of rubber bands to hold it on my lens barrel, with a wedge of polystyrene under the rear end to angle the light beam into the frame. The torch does just what I wanted it to and would be great at night.
30th March 2018 9:27am
Deanimator says...
Virtually all of my outdoor macro is at night, primarily nocturnal spiders, rounded out with millipedes, centipedes, and pill bugs. Apart from ants too fast to get good shots of, that's about all that's seen around my apartment, and then only after the sun is completely down. Most of my subjects are spiders hanging from the eaves of the attached and unattached garages, and underneath air conditioners.
Since nothing comes out before it's pitch dark, flash is mandatory. I just switched from a Sigma DG500 Super on a TTL cable to a Flashpoint R1 Zoom so that I could ditch the cable. I made myself a dual arm bracket for around $20 using a Goliton and two Vello brackets. The Left arm has the flash and the right an LED headlamp mounted on a mini ballhead.
23rd March 2018 8:53am
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