Dragonfly Closeup With Telephoto lenses

The Featured Image is a closeup image of a male Blue Dasher Dragonfly resting on a stem. Image taken with a 400mm Canon DO lens with extension tubes to get closer focusing on the small subject Blue Dasher dragonfly but taken from a distance away. I found that using longer lenses with extension tubes for close focusing works well on these skittish dragonflies instead of macro lenses. You have a much longer working distance so your subject dragonfly does not get nervous & fly off giving you more time for shooting a variety of angles & compositions of images. And a bonus of using a 400mm lens or 300mm lens with extension tubes is you get very clean smooth blurred backgrounds. You can also add a 1.4x or 2x teleconverter for more working distance and even smoother backgrounds.

Blue Dasher Thorax & Wing Detail

I thought it was interesting to see the details of where the wings attach to the thorax on this Blue Dasher dragonfly’s body. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens with a 2x teleconverter and an extension tube to get a closer view. I usually carry extension tubes or closeup filters with me in case I come upon an interesting closeup photo opportunity. But I usually use extension tubes more than closeup filters because you are adding another glass element that might degrade the image. You can also experiment with the placement of the extension tube. Placing the extension tube before or after the teleconverter gives you different “focus zones.” Also the width of the extension tube gives you different focus zones. So it is best to see what combination works best for you and the lenses you are using. But it is fun to try different ways to get the image you want. Plus you never know when it will come in handy. Images below are a series of images using extension tubes & teleconverters with 300mm & 400mm lenses.

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Blue Dasher Dragonfly- 400mm f/4 DO Lens, extension tube, 1.4x teleconverter

Blue Dasher Wing Detail

Closeup detail of a Blue Dasher Dragonfly Wing. This dragonfly is only about an inch and a half long. Hard to get closeup wing detail with a normal macro lens, especially without disturbing your subject or if there is a distance of water between you and your subject. From commercial work I have a wide assortment of macro lenses to chose from, but for dragonflies my favorite setup is a hybrid setup of telephoto lens, extension tube, 1.4X teleconverter and another extension tube. I also use fill flash with a Better Beamer flash extender. If you use this combination it is manual focus and exposure is determined from your histogram as you are pushing the auto exposure and auto focus. By using 2 extension tubes on each end of the teleconverter you are actually enlarging the image on the sensor. With trial and error you soon become used to using this combination and exposures become consistent. But you can get closeups of subjects that are usually out of reach. Also handy to do a 3 or 5 shot panorama or a  stacked multi-shot image of a small subject.

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5 shot panorama

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Extreme setup with 2 1.4X teleconverters with extension tubes, showing placement of tubes & teleconverters. Usually I use only one extension tube. So to start use only the first one between the extension tubes and get used exposure and focusing.

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