Dragonfly Season Is Coming!

Dragonfly season will be coming up soon and hopefully we will be able to finally go to some local parks. Plus we usually see some in our yard. Towards the end of last year I was trying different techniques to photograph them. Some I used a longer exposure for blurred wings and/or blurred backgrounds. (Others I tried to really blur the backgrounds and keep the dragonfly sharp but against a smooth background using a wider open f/stop for less depth of field).  The featured image & the first 2 below are slower shutter speeds with the camera on a tripod. Surprised that even at 1/160th or slightly above, of a second you get blurred wings when they are flying in or before takeoff. Shows how fast their wings are flapping. It also helps the blur, if the light is highlighting the wings, otherwise they can “disappear” into the background and looks like it has no wings. All images are with a 300mm, or 400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter.

Blurred Wings – Longer Exposure Series Below  – (And the Featured Image)

Slaty_Skimmer_v1_400mm f11_160th sec_43G0361

Slaty_Skimmer Blur v2_DM 400mm_f_11_160th_sec_43G0277

Flying in @ 1/160 Sec. – total movement, but twig is sharp!

Blurred & Smoother Background series below.

Slaty_Skimmer_v5_DM f11_43G0469-Recovered

Slaty Skimmer

Blue DASHER_v2_DF_300MM_1_4X_MG_2329

Blue Dasher

Eastern Pondhawk V2_MG_2625

Semi-Soft Background because the dragonfly was on the ground, but used f/5.6 – Eastern Pondhawk

Dragonfly 2 img stk_v5

Slaty Skimmer

Widow_Skimmer_v2_DM 400mm_f11_ISO_1600_43G0457

Widow Skimmer

11 Comments on “Dragonfly Season Is Coming!

  1. I love the wonderful preview of dragonflies to come, Reed. I am pretty confident that I will get to see all of the species that you have highlighted. Your blurred wing shots give me so ideas, though I must confess that I rarely use my tripod when chasing dragonflies, so it might be hard to replicate the effect exactly.

    • Thanks Mike! When I am shooting with a 400mm & maybe a teleconverter I use a tripod. With a 300mm (and maybe a 1.4x teleconverter) I usually shoot handheld. Depending how close the background is behind the Dragonfly determines what f/stop I use for my shots. If I want a smoother background and there is a busy background, I shoot wide open or just stopped down a little, and shoot a series of focus areas on the dragonfly. Then let Photoshop blend them. Basically focus stacking the image. You can still focus stack handheld images. Just use Photoshop to put all images into 1 layered Photoshop file. Then go to align layers, then blend layers. But it helps to use manual focus and shoot a series of images, not stopped down much and go from head to tail for the series. After trying a few you learn how many images you may need. Also never hurts to shoot more focus points, because you do not have to use them all. You could also try a few tests on even a pencil or fork to get a “feel” for the process. Thanks again!

    • Thanks Debby! They are fun to photograph! Plus there are so many different dragonflies to photograph! In the beginning it is hard to ID some! Thanks again!

    • Thanks Donna! I started shooting Dragonflies & Damselflies at my old home where we had a pond. At first it seemed a challenge to get what I wanted, but the more I shot the more fun it was! And the better the results.

  2. They certainly are tough subjects in flight. I like the featured image a lot. The others are beauties, I look forward to seeing this year’s “crew”, if we can get out.😏

    • Thanks Belinda! We have a large local Audubon preserve nearby. And apparently they still closed the building and displays, but on their website it says they opened the preserve for walking. At least that is what their website says! We have to check it out. Lots of Dragonflies there! Here’s Hoping!!

      • We drove past a nearby waterway today and saw a few wood ducks and turtles close to shore. No cameras with us, and no hiking (the trails are too narrow). Might try a few photos next time from the road. 😏. Good luck with the dragonflies!

  3. These photos are spectacular, Reed! I love the way the wings in the first shot are sparkling, and the sharpness of every tiny detail in the later shots is incredible.

    • Thanks so much! They are fun to do! Plus the more you photograph them, the more you learn on how to get mote detail in your subjects.

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