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.


Dragons & Damsels Panoramas

Panoramas are not just for landscapes! I enjoy shooting panoramas for a variety of subjects. Plus they look interesting when you print them very large! Here are a series of multi-image Dragonfly & Damselfly Panoramas. I was using Canon & Panasonic Cameras, with a variety of lenses. The featured Blue Dasher Dragonfly image was 5 handheld images taken with a Canon 300mm lens, with extension tubes @ f/9, 1/250th sec. Then assembled and blended in Photoshop. When shooting panoramas handheld, I tend to overlap even more just to be safe & that I got enough overlap to blend nicely. I may not need them, but it helps if you do need more images when assembling them. The images below have some details on exposure & images shot per panorama.

Damselfly_3img_pano_1110038 pano

Eastern Forktail Damselfly, 4 image panorama, Panasonic GH2 with adapted Canon FD 200mm Manual Focus Macro lens, blended in Photoshop.

Blue_Dasher Pano_43G3758 crp v3

Blue Dasher, Female – 400mm DO lens with extension tubes, Canon 1D mkIV,  3 image panorama, f/11, 1/250 

Eastern Forktail FM_DAMSELFLY STACK V1_43G0245

Eastern Forktail Damselfly, 3 image panorama, Panasonic GH2 with adapted Canon FD 200mm Manual Focus Macro lens


Blue Dasher Dragonfly With Water Mites

I was surprised to see so many water mites on this Blue Dasher Dragonfly! Usually you only see a few mites, but this one was really loaded with them! The water mites get onto late stage nymphs, then emerge with the nymph. As the dragonfly emerges from the nymph stage, the mites transfer to the adult dragonfly.


Closer view to show water mites

Extreme Methods To Photograph Distant Dragonflies

This is a series of some Blue Dasher & other Dragonfly images I shot over a few years using a technique for getting softer smoother backgrounds for dragonflies that you can not get close to photograph. Depth of field is limited with this technique, but I like the softer backgrounds which makes the detail in the dragonfly stand out. The subject Dragonflies are about about 5 to 9 feet away. Usually they are on a plant or branch in or over the water. Plus I get closer up images not needing a large or any cropping. I was using a Canon 400mm DO lens with a 1.4x teleconverter(s) and extension tubes to get closer focus on the small (about 1.5 inches long) Dragonflies. Basically converting the lens to only closer focusing capability. Sometimes I would setup the equipment with the lens, then extension tubes, the teleconverter and then camera. Or have the lens, teleconverter, extension tubes, then camera body. Different arrangements of extension tube(s) & teleconverters gives different “focus zones”. Depending on the width & position of the extension tubes used is how close you can focus on your subject. With all the added converter(s) & extension tubes you may loose autoexposure so I mainly set exposure by looking at a preview shot or histogram and adjust exposure from there. It takes a while to get consistent results because there are so many variables. But it works well once you get used to it. Many times I use fill flash to help light the subject because I loose so much light with certain combinations of teleconverter(s) and extension tubes.

Blue dasher yard v1 400mm_ext_43G0988

Image somewhat soft on the bottom of the image from shooting through plants that were in the way, but liked the image anyway!

Blue dasher yard 2015 v2_43G1052

Blue_Dasher_400mm v3_43G3002

Blue Dasher_v2_f16_420mm_DM 6_19_76A0627 copy


mkiv-400mm setupimg_1015

Showing an even more extreme “closeup” setup with double extension tubes & double 1.4x teleconverters (staggered). Also Fill flash to open shadows – usually with a BetterBeamer flash extender.


Dragonflies From Davidsons Mill Pond Park

Some Dragonflies from a recent walk at Davidsons Mill Pond Park. Featured image is a Blue Dasher (male). All images captured with a Canon 1D MkIV with a 300mm f/4 lens & 1.4X Teleconverter.


Another Blue dasher – Male


Eastern Pondhawk – Female


Eastern Pondhawk – Female


Eastern Pondhawk – Male


Slaty Skimmer Male


Common Whitetail Male


Widow Skimmer – Female

Eastern Amberwing_v4_male_pp18_43G7039

Eastern Amberwing – Male

Calico Pennant_v3_DM_8_18_43G6784

Calico Pennant – Male

Widow Skimmer_female_DM_v2_43G6908

Widow Skimmer – Female

Widow Skimmer_male_DM 2019_43G6835

Widow Skimmer – Male

It Is Dragonfly Season

Some of my favorite photo subjects are Dragonflies and Damselflies. Here are a few Dragonflies to start with. The featured image is a photo of a female Calico Pennant. I was using a 300mm lens that has a close focusing capability, with a 1.4X Teleconverter for a combined focal length of 420mm.


Blue Dasher Dragonfly – Female


Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly – Female

Smiling Blue Dasher Dragonfly

For some reason Blue Dasher Dragonflies seem to look like they are smiling when you see them head on, giving an impression of a Happy Dragonfly. This Blue Dasher was out in a pond at a public county park, probably 6 to 8 feet from the shoreline. The featured image is a 4 shot Image Stack, manually focused and assembled in Photoshop. I used a combination of a 400mm lens, an extension tube, then a 1.4x teleconverter to actually enlarge the image on the sensor with the extension tube added. Sometimes I add another extension tube between the teleconverter and the camera body which enlargens the image on the sensor even more. But narrows your focus range even more and you tend to need a fill flash because of loss of light reaching the sensor to get a usable exposure for a subject that is somewhat moving its head or wings or its perch is moving in a breeze. Plus the added extension tubes also takes away light reaching the sensor. Sort of like the “Old” days when you were using a 4×5 or 8×10 view camera when you had the bellows racked out and had to adjust your exposure because of light loss from the distance of the lens and the film plane. By moving teleconverter and extension tubes you can get a variety of focus windows and enlargement of your final image on the sensor.

Blue_Dasher_HO v1 DM 7 18_43G9115

Blue Dasher 4 img Stack for Blue Dasher, then 4 image pano for the stick the Dasher was on. So 2 techniques used for final image.

Canon closeup IMG_1245

Older shot showing similar Setup with one 1.4x teleconverter plus fill flash needed for using two separated extension tubes.


Another extreme setup with 2 extension tubes and 2 teleconverters. This really enlargens the image on the sensor but you need a fill flash or a very high ISO setting and has a very limited focus window.


Dragonfly setup at my old pond

Blue Dasher Female Portrait

I found this female Blue Dasher in the yard. It was bouncing back and forth on the flowers. I stood watching for a few minutes and then it seemed to not fly off when I got closer. I guess it got used to me being there. I was using a 150mm macro lens with a 1.4x teleconverter so it allowed me to get pretty close. It is interesting that the female dragonflies are usually a different color scheme than the males. Sometimes makes it harder to ID.

Blue Dasher FM va yd_MG_9828

Blue Dasher Female yd v2_MG_9752Blue Dasher Female yd v1_MG_9715


Dragonfly Closeups & Image Stacked Closeups

Some of the time, when photographing Dragonflies, I need to get closer, but water or something is in the way. Or I just want more working distance and do not want to use a macro lens with skidish subjects. After photographing them for over 10 or 12 years I have come up with different solutions. And I want a really soft looking backgrounds! Or I am at a National Wildlife Refuge where you can’t go off the Drive, so you need more reach for the different dragons you see there. So I have come up with different combinations to solve that problem. The more you experiment, the more combinations you come up with. I sometimes use a telephoto lens, usually 400mm f/4, an extension tube, a 1.4x teleconverter, and then a longer extension tube. Sometimes I add another 1.4x teleconverter at the camera. Than add a flash with a Better Beamer Flash extender because with the extension tubes I loose a lot of light, so I need more power to light my subject Dragonfly. This gives me a working distance, depending on which extension tubes and combinations of teleconverters I use, from 2 to 8 ft or even  more, but filling the frame with my subject small Dragonfly. The Blue Dashers are about 1.5″ long. Some ot the others are a little larger and the Damselflies are smaller. The extension tube spacing actually enlarges the Dragonfly image on the sensor. But you do loose a lot of light. It seems awkward, but once you get used to the combination you use, it gets easier to use in the field. Many times I actually shoot a stack series of focus point images along a dragonfly to get a sharp final image from head to tail, wingtip to wingtip or specific areas I want in Photoshop. I probably posted too many images, but it shows the effects and details I was going for. They are such fascinating photo subjects! Sorry for such a long Post!

Blue Dasher v1_MG_9455BlueDasher v2_MG_9904


Extreme setup with 2 teleconverters, for closer focusing and extreme magnification.



My Standard setup for closeup Dragonfly photos. The wider teleconverter next to the camera body magnifies the image a little more and you can get even more image filling frames.

blue-dasher-female-v34davidsons-mill-2016_43g4418eastern-pondhawk-dragonfly-v2-davis-millv1-davidsons-mill_43g4353blue dasher v1 cf 2015_MG_8886_43G1023_43G1020Blue Skimmer v1_43G7939Canon closeup IMG_1245_43G7343 v2

_43G8718 bwr dragon eat dragon v3

This Dragonfly was eating another dragonfly about 15 ft away

_80I9991 Blue Dasher dragonfly v4_MG_0273 v3Skimmer wing_MG_0251 v2_1110034 cuDragonfly 5Blue Dasher at my Pond

Smiling Blue Dasher

This Blue Dasher Dragonfly is not actually smiling, but it looked like it to me with the face markings and head-on shot. Multi-shot image stacked photo for more depth of field/focus It helped that it did not move during the exposures. 400mm f/4 DO lens, extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III teleconverter, shorter extension tube, Camera body with flash and better beamer flash extender.

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