Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly Photography With Teleconverters & Extension Tubes

This Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly flew into a bush close to the edge of a pond where I was set up for photographing Dragonflies. I was concentrating on a different dragonfly before I noticed this one. It allowed me to get fairly close with a 300mm lens with extension tubes and then I added a 1.4x Teleconverter to get even closer. I like photographing Dragonflies for the challenge, but did not like using a macro lens. Either I had to get too close and it flew off or it was in a spot I could not get close to. So I came up with a few solutions that work for me. One, I do not bother the Dragonflies or Damselflies by being too close and having them fly off and 2, I can photograph them closeup even if I cannot get close to them. By putting the 1.4x teleconverter in front of the extension tubes, it actually magnifies the image larger on the camera sensor. To get even more magnification I sometimes use two extension tubes placing them in a certain order – lens, shorter extension tube – 1.4x teleconverter –  larger extension tube then camera body. I have even used 2 1.4X Teleconverters with success. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. You lose auto exposure and auto focus so you have to look at your histogram to adjust your exposure. Also fill flash with a Better Beamer flash extender helps. I also raise the ISO to raise the shutter speed because with the Extension Tubes & Teleconverter you are losing light and your shutter speed drops. This enables you to get close to dragonflies that are out a little from the shoreline at a pond or lake. It also gives you a longer working distance so the subject does not fly off. Trying different configurations and practice is fun and rewarding when seeing your final images. I have even done 5 or 6 shots with this for a panorama of a Dragonfly about 1.5″ long, Moving and focusing along the Dragonfly and assembling the image in Photoshop.




Male Blue Dasher (Body is about 1.5″) , 5 shot panorama with focus stacking as I moved down the length of the Dragonfly, with a 300mm lens assembled in Photoshop yielding about a 50 inch long print.

Example – this is with a 400mm lens with the setup of extension tubes, 1.4x teleconverter, larger extension tube, camera body with flash, giving a working distance from about 4 to 8 feet. thinner or larger extension tubes  gives you more or less magnification.


Canon closeup IMG_1245

These setup examples are with a 400mm DO f/4 lens. This also works well with the 300mm lens. 800mm lenses work also, but not as well as 300mm and 400mm. Using different size extension tubes behind the teleconverter gives you different working distances plus different magnification of the image on the sensor. With practice and patience you learn what combinations work for different working distances.






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