Blue Dasher – 12 Image Focus Stack

When doing a multi-image focus stack for more depth of field on a dragonfly image, I usually set my f/stop to f/11 or f/16 when using a 300mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. This way I do not need as many shots for the full focus series of images. Many times a dragonfly will fly off or change position before I finish the series for a stack so I cannot use it and have to start over. This dragonfly seemed to be very still & cooperative. So I managed to do a focus stack from head to tail, including wingtip to wingtip. This series was 12 images, shot at f/8 for a smooth clean background. For a focus stack with a large number of images, I also use a tripod. After flattening the layered file, you might have a minor touch up here or there.

Blue Dasher In Our Garden

I noticed a male Blue Dasher on the top of a Gladiola in our garden as I was looking out the window. So I went out to get some images to post. It has been unusually extra hot here in NJ, so we have not gone to any of the local parks lately. As I was inching closer to the Dasher, it flew off, but quickly returned to the same spot. After doing that multiple times it finally stayed on the tip of the tall plant. I guess it began to tolerate me as I was inching closer. I was hand holding my camera, but I shot a series of focus points along the dragonfly for image stacking. The Blue Dasher was close to the side of my home so I was shooting wide open to have a smoother background. This eliminated the shadows under the rows of siding that would have given confusing rows of darker stripes to the background. I was using a Canon R with a Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro and a Sigma 2x teleconverter. So with the 2x teleconverter, my wide open f/stop was f/5.6. I manually focused a series of focus points from wingtip to wingtip plus close ups of the face. I was surprised the Blue Dasher did not fly off and allowed me to get right in it’s face, so to speak. So I tried many different focus stacks to see which might work better. Here are a few images from the series.

Blue Dasher v4

First focus stacked image, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro, with Sigma 2x teleconverter, 5 images, Canon R @ f/5.6.  With focus stacking shooting @ f/5.6, I eliminated the shadows under the rows of siding behind the dragonfly.

 

Blue_Dasher_v3_portrait vert 300mm f4_2X_Canon R_v2_ v1076A4672

Dasher Image (2 images) concentrating on face, legs, plant tip & front of wings.

Finally A Blue Dasher In My Yard

Usually we have a few different types of Dragonflies in our yard. But this Summer we have only had Amberwing Dragonflies around. But they were very skittish and very small, so I did not get any good images of them. When I was out looking in our garden for other Praying Mantises  I noticed a female Blue Dasher on our Dogwood tree in the front yard. I finally had an interesting Dragonfly in our yard that was very tolerant of being photographed. It was on one of the Dogwood Bracts basically at almost eye level. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter on a Canon 7D. It would take off, fly around then return to the same spot on the Dogwood. I was able to shift my position to get backgrounds in the shade and in the sun. I also was able to try different f/stops and a few image stacks. The featured shot I was at f/11 for more depth of field (so I did not have to do a focus stack) with a sunlit background.

4 Blue Dasher_FM_v2_300mm_f11_300mm_1_4X_7D_yard_MG_0868

Shifted my position angle for a shaded dark background for a more dramatic look. Same f/11 exposure.

11 Blue_Dasher_FM_300mm f11_1250_ISOD _MG_1031

Blue Dasher Female – 300mm f/11, 1250 ISO (busy background)

10 Blue_Dasher_FM_300mm_1_4X_1250_ISO_7D_MG_1127

Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly, angled for a cleaner background, 300mm, f11, Canon 7D

9 Blue_Dasher_FM_v1_f13_1250ISO_7D

Blue Dasher Female, f/13 – busy background version

7 Blue Dasher _FM_300mm_1_4X_7D_MG_0939-2

6 Blue Dasher FM_CU Crop 9img_Pano_v11_300mm f5_6_300mm 1_4X _7D

Blue Dasher Female – Cropped from below image – 9 image focus stack, 300mm f5/6, 300mm With 1.4X teleconverter, Canon 7D

5 Blue Dasher FM_9img_Pano_v10_300mm f5_6_300mm 1_4X _7D

Blue Dasher Female, 9 Image focus stack, Handheld, f/5.6, (for a smoother background), 300mm with 1.4x teleconverter

5 Blue Dasher _FM_vf vert 3_300mm_1_4X_7D_MG_0939-2

Female Blue Dasher, 300mm, f/ 5.6

4 Blue Dasher _FM_vf vert cu 3_300mm_1_4X_7D_MG_0939-2

Cropped version of above image for face detail

3 Blue_Dasher_FM_v4a_300mm_1_4D_7d_f11

Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly, f/11 – 300mm w/ 1.4x teleconverter.

2 Blue_Dasher_FM_300mm crop_f5_6_f4_MG_0939

Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly,  300mm, f/5.6

1 Blue_Dasher_FM_v1 300mm f11_MG_0882

Blue Dasher- female, 300mm f/11

Handheld Dragonfly Focus Stacking In Photoshop

I use this technique quite often for my multi-image focus stacked Dragonfly (or other subjects) images. Shooting @ f/5.6 or even f/8 to get smoother looking backgrounds around the dragonfly it is hard to get the wings & tail sharp. So I tend to quickly photograph 3 to 8 images of different focus areas on the dragonfly. Or even more depending on the position of the dragonfly or the size of the subject. In the beginning to get used to doing this technique shoot more focus point areas. You may not need them all, but you have them just in case. These images were shot with a Canon 300mm f/4 lens on a Canon 7d, handheld.

Select images for the focus stack and Load the files into 1 layered Photoshop file-

2 A Load files into Layere PSD copy

Load the files into one layered Photoshop file

6 Aligned Layers befor blending

Select layers & auto align the layers (with all layers selected)

7 auto blend layers

Choose Auto-Blend layers (with all layers selected)

auto blend 2

Check box for Stack Images and Seamless Tones & Colors. Try Content Aware Fill Transparent Areas. Sometimes works well, other times does not. You can just crop in on final image which I usually do.

10 after auto blend

After Auto Blend you can see Photoshop selected the sharpest areas from each layer to blend and put the final blended image on top in the layers palette. You can see the “Masks” Photoshop made for each of the layered images in the PSD file.

My Final Steps are to save the layered file. Then Flatten the layers if you need to do minor touch-ups here or there. Sometimes you will need to do a very slight touch-up or cloning, but nothing major.

These are also similar to doing Multi-Image Panoramas. Or try a combination of Image Stacks & Panoramas in the same file. So you can experiment with different effects. Comes in handy quite often when out in the field photographing. Cuts down on lugging a lot of lenses or even a tripod with you.  Try it and let me know how you do! But if you like shooting with a tripod you can use the same steps with a tripod!

 

 

 

Blue Dasher Dragonfly Focus Stacks

Here are two different Blue Dasher focus stacks. The featured image is made with 3 images. First image is focused on the head, then fore wings & then front of the hind wings. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens on a Canon 7D with a 1.4x teleconverter. I loaded each image into a layered Photoshop file and let a Photoshop align & blend the sharpest areas. The second image I wanted to mainly focus on the face but the plant was in the same focus plane as the face. I thought that might reinforce the roundness of the dragonfly head because of the roundness of the plant. I was shooting @ f/ 5.6 for a shallow depth of field.  I then focused on the fore wing because I wanted a sharp edge on the fore wing and let the rest go softer into the darker background.

Blue Dasher_v6a_MG_2271_7D_f5_6_300mm_1_4X _7D

Female Blue Dasher CloseUp Portraits

Two close-up images of female Blue Dasher Dragonflies. I use a variety of techniques to get very close to Dragonflies. The featured image was captured with a Sigma 150mm macro with a 1.4X teleconverter on a Canon 7D. Luckily they sometimes get used to me and allow me to get very close.

BlueDasher_FM_400mmDO_ext Tubes_filFlash_43G3758 crp v2

Female Blue Dasher Closeup Image – 400mm Canon DO lens, Multiple Extension Tubes & 1.4x Teleconverters, Fill Flash because of light loss with multiple extension tubes & Teleconverters.

Dragonfly Wing Damage

It is starting to be the time of year when dragonflies start to show signs of wear & tear on their wings. It seems they must lead a rough life from the looks of wear on some of them. The featured image is a male Slaty Skimmer Dragonfly.

Blue_Dasher_2img_Stk_PP_8_19

Blue Dasher, 300mm, 2x teleconverter, (600mm) 2 images – focus stacked

Blue_Dasher_PP_v5_5img stk_600mm

Blue Dasher, 300mm, 2x teleconverter, (600mm) 5 images focus stacked

Slaty_Skimmer_V1_600mm_76A5697

Eastern Pondhawk Male – (600mm) 3 images focus stacked

Blue_Dasher_v10_960mm_DM 7 18

Blue Dasher, (960mm) Multi-image stack

Blue_Dasher_FM_v1_400mm_1D_43G0105

Blue Dasher, (600mm) multi-image focus stack

Dragon pano v1

2 Male Spangled Skimmers, (600mm) 2 image focus stack

Dragonfly Eyes

An assortment of Dragonfly closeups focusing on their eye & face details. Images taken with 300mm & 400mm lenses with extension tubes.

BlueDasher CU v3 2imgStk_DM 7 17Eastern Pondhawk V3_MG_2625

Blue_Dasher v3 cf_MG_9050Blue Dasher FM v4 yd_MG_9828

 

 

Blue Dasher Dragonfly Wing Detail

This Blue Dasher focus stacked image is made with 2 images, blended. 1 focused on the head area & the other focused on the tail area. Both were shot, handheld with a 400mm DO lens, with an extension tube for closer focusing.  This Dasher seemed to have a damaged hindwing on the right side. Images taken @ f/8 to to keep a smoother background so the Blue Dasher stands out. I used Photoshop to align and then blend the 2 images for the final focus stacked image. If I stopped down more to get  everything in focus in 1 shot, the background would have been busier and the Dasher would not stand out as much. I tend to like smoother backgrounds in my Dragonfly images.

 

Blue Dasher Dragonflies – 400mm With Fill Flash

This is a series of Blue Dasher Dragonfly images taken with a 400mm DO lens, but I also used an on camera flash with a Better Beamer Flash extender to help fill in the shadow details on the dragonflies. Also for some I set the flash so I was slightly overexposing on the subject dragonfly. This way when I compensated for the correct exposure on the dragonfly, the background would be darker and a little more dramatic.

Blue_Dasher_400mm_FilFlsh_v1_MG_1731Blue_Dasher_400mm_Fil_Flsh_v1_MG_1677BlueDasher_v1_400mmDO_filFlsh_MG_1657 v3Blue Dasher_Male_400mmDO-f14_v1_MG_1314Blie_Dasher_400mmDO_f11_fill_Flash_MG_1322

Blue_Dasher_mating 400mmDO f11_MG_1317

Mating Blue Dashers

Blue_Dasher_v1_400mm_FilFlsh_v1_MG_1657 v3Blue_Dasher_400mm_FilFlsh_v1_MG_1333a_MG_1677

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