Blue Dasher 3 Image Panorama

I found this male Blue Dasher Dragonfly on a small branch at a local park. I was using a 400mm DO lens on a Canon 1D mkIV thinking I would be photographing birds. But I had a set of extension tubes in my photo vest which enabled me to get a series of very closeup images to make a 3 horizontal image pano Portrait of the Blue Dasher. Images taken @ f/13 with fill flash (Canon 550 EX with a Better Beamer Flash Extender).

Cropped Closeup Image from Featured Image

A Series Of Blue Dasher Dragonfly Images

Here in NJ Dragonfly season will be ending soon. I am seeing fewer Dragonflies & Damselflies at our local parks, Wildlife Refuges and even our yard. Here is a collection of Blue Dasher Dragonfly images from a variety of local Parks & Wildlife Refuges. The Featured Image was taken with a Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 2X Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV @ f11 & with Fill Flash. Dragonfly distance from camera ~15 feet. Some images were also taken with Extension Tubes on the lens, but Extension Tubes do not show in the RAW Data in Adobe Bridge so I did not list them in the image info on each image.

Blue Dasher Male, 12.5 ft away, Canon 400mm DO lens, 2X Teleconverter, stacked 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV, @ f/11 with Fill Flash (using 2 Stacked Teleconverters f/11 was shooting with the lens aperature wide open! Lost 3 stops of light with the stacked Teleconverters)
Blue Dasher Female, Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV,@ f/8, ISO 1600
Blue Dasher Female, Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV, f/8, ISO 1600
Blue Dasher Male, Canon 400mm DO lens, f/8, Canon 1D mkIV, ISO 1600
Blue Dasher Male, 400mm DO lens, f/8, Canon 1D mkIV
Blue Dasher Male, Canon 400mm DO lens, , f/8, Canon 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV
Blue Dasher Male, Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV, teleconverters, f/11, w/ Fill Flash for detail
Blue Dasher Male, Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV, @ f/9
Blue Dasher Male, Canon 400mm DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV, @ f/8
Blue Dasher Male, Canon 400m DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV, @ f/8
Mating Blue Dashers, Canon 400m DO lens, Canon 1D mkIV, Fill Flash, @ f/13

Blue Dasher Dragonfly In Our Garden

I was looking for a Praying Mantis in our gardens to photograph when this male Blue Dasher dragonfly landed on a branch by our carport. Not a great background but decided to photograph it anyway since I did not see any other interesting bugs. To minimize detail in the background carport siding I chose f/8 to minimize the carport detail. Since I was @ f/8 I shot a handheld series of images to retain detail on the dragonfly. I shot 3 images to focus stack on the dragonfly from wingtip to wingtip, then a 3 image series head to tail. After the main image stack, I moved in closer & closer for a few different closer versions since it seemed to be tolerating my being there.

A little closer view, Male Blue Dasher, Canon R, 300mm f/4 lens, 1.4x Canon Teleconverter, @ f/8
Closer view, Head Image, Wings Down, Canon R, 300mm, 1.4X Teleconverter, @ f/8
Closer view, Head Image, Wings Up, Canon R, 300mm, 1.4X Teleconverter @ f/8

Blue Dasher Dragonflies

A couple of images of Blue Dasher Dragonflies. The Featured Image of the male Blue Dasher was taken with a 400mm DO lens with a 1.4X Teleconverter @ f/8 on a Canon 1D mkIV. To get the smoother background I wanted I only stopped down 1 more f/stop to f/8 since I already lost 1 stop with the 1.4X Teleconverter attached. My usual workflow when (on bright days) using teleconverters for a little more sharpness is to stop down at least 1 additional stop when using a 1.4X and at least 2 stops when using a 2X teleconverter. If I am using a 3X Teleconverter I would stop down 1 or 2 more stops than when using a 2X Teleconverter if I could. But then again a 3X Teleconverter usually is so bad I would just stack a 1.4X & 2X teleconverter. If using an extension tube on Telephoto lenses to get closer focusing I would also stop down at least 1 or 2 more stops for more depth of field.

Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly, Canon 1D mkIV, 400mm DO lens, 2X Teleconverter, @ f/11
Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly, Canon 7D, 400mm DO lens, Extension Tubes for closer minimum focusing, f/13 for more depth of field since I was using an extension tube between the camera body & lens

Distant Dragonfly Closeups

A closeup uncropped image of a Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly. It was in a small pond but off in the distance in the middle of the pond. It was about 8 feet from the edge of the pond. To get this close to Dragonflies that I can not get close to I have come up with a method to get detail images of them. I was using a 400mm f/4 DO lens with multiple stacked extension tubes between multiple teleconverters. With this setup I had to use an on-camera flash with a “Better Beamer” Flash Extender to light the dragonfly because of all the light loss with multiple extension tubes & teleconverters . This dragonfly was about 8 ft out in the water. You can see the flash hotspot on the eye. Changing the order of the extension tubes and different sizes of the teleconverters gives you different zones of manual focus. Also you have to try different exposures because Auto Exposure does not work with all the extension tubes & teleconverters. After trying this for a while you can get nice closeups of distant Dragonflies. Also you usually get nice “clean” & smooth backgrounds. It takes some practice but you can get some interesting images of distant Dragonflies.

Great Blue Skimmer, 2img Pano, 400mm DO lens, 1DmkIV, f11, Extension Tubes & Stacked Teleconverters
Great Blue Skimmer, 400mm DO lens, 1DmkIV, f11, Extension Tubes & Stacked Teleconverters
An iPhone image of the of 400mm DO lens with extension tube, teleconverter, another extension tube & another teleconverter

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

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