Wildlife Photography | Operation Porch Light

A couple weekends ago I decided to sit out and do some night photography with the bugs that were coming to the porch light. I deemed it “Operation Porch Light”. Every idea of mine has to have a cool code name.


I had the idea to take some of the methods used in portrait photography and apply it to some of the methods of nighttime insect trapping. Then I had the real strong desire not to spend money on it. So these are all the supplies rounded up around my house and put together with Operation Porch Light.

Operation Porch Light | click images to enlarge

iPhone pic of Operation Porch Light | click images to enlarge

From the entomology side of things, I set up a white sheet. I didn’t have a black light or anything fun like that to help with the reflection and attraction, so a utility light had to do. I took a piece of glass from inside and set it on a flower basket stand in between the light source and the sheet. My macro lens was set up on the tripod in front of it all.

I had many visitors, most not taking the time to land and sit still on my glass for a portrait session 😉 I even had a slug that got his slime everywhere. Yeah that was fun to clean off the glass.

I played around with a couple different light set ups, sometimes coming from underneath the glass, but what seemed to work best was directional light coming from the opposite side of the sheet. The sheet sort of acted like a soft box helping bounce light back toward the subject.

cny insect photography photo


I didn’t use a flash, I thought it would take away from the portrait effect and cause too harsh of light. Plus, I actually despise flash (don’t tell anyone). I take that back. I like flash when you can’t tell it was used. People who can pull that off, I admire.

cny insect photography katydid photo

Nerd details for the images:

Moth Pic: f7.1, ISO 1250, 1/80th

Katydid: f7.1, ISO 1250, 1/125th

While there was many visitors, I kinda sorta picked the wrong night for Operation Porch Light because as soon as the sun went down the temp dropped quickly and was really chilly. No bueno for bugs. But this nerd still had fun.

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