We were invited to see and photograph some of the batch of Achemon Sphinx (Eumorpha achemon) caterpillars that are in their last instar and getting ready to pupate. The containers of peat moss are waiting for them to start looking for a place to go to ground. In the mean time they are still eating voraciously the grape and other vines being provided.
The literature states they come in a green form or a brown form. These came in a range of colors. One was lime green. A few were tan. Then there were some that were sorrel or nutmeg colored and others shaded into dark brown. All are from the same batch of eggs. Our friend, the Moth Whisperer, caught a female some weeks ago and she laid more than 90 eggs all over the cage and grapevines before he released her.
These images show what differences in flash and background can do, sometimes with a bit of help from software. The vines were twined on two columns of wire hardware cloth set on tables in a small screened porch. We worked to minimize wire’s effect on the images. The faintly checkerboard appearance in the top image is the out of focus wire which has been softened a bit more in a software layer.
The background was further away from the vine where the lime green caterpillar munched. The manual exposure for the caterpillar with the flash made the background go black. Ordinarily we do not use black backgrounds but for this one it is effective.
This pale tan one has its head partially pulled in. By kneeling on the floor the camera could be positioned to get a bit of sky in the background. Fill flash (reducing the flash setting) on the caterpillar allowed the natural light on the distant sky to be captured in this exposure.
The assortment of sorrel and brown colored ones varied as much as sorrel and chestnut horses do. For the one above the wire column was rotated so that a small evergreen tree near the porch provided the green background. The green was softened by the evening light bouncing through the screen.
This was one of darker brown ones. The pale porch wall with light bouncing off the opposite wall provided most of the light for this image. Fill flash was used but did not affect the exposure very much as seen in the very pale shadows.
Photographs are more than compelling subjects. Controlling the light is paramount. We submit that controlling the backgrounds are equally so.