Praying Mantis Portrait

I was looking for interesting bugs in our gardens to photograph and I found this Praying Mantis in the shade under some of the flowers. It was very dark but that made the Mantis stand out more. I was using a 300mm lens with a 1.4X Teleconverter @ f/11 with a Canon R. I wanted to make sure I got detail on the head and antennae only so I did a handheld 13 image focus stack to make sure I had detail on it’s head & 2 antennae or feelers. I purposely only wanted detail on the head and antennae and let the body go soft.

Painted Skimmer Dragonfly

I was going through my backup hard drives cleaning out unneeded files when I found this image of a male Painted Skimmer Dragonfly. This was taken at my pond years ago with a 300mm f/4 lens on a Canon 7D. Image taken @ f/11 to try to get a little more detail in the far wingtips.

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

Immature Male Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

We had gone to the Audubon Plainsboro Preserve to see if we could find a few interesting dragonflies to photograph for the blog. The Preserve was still overloaded with Cicadas but there were quite a few Dragonflies flying around on the paths. It was fun to find this Immature Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly along the main path. The featured image was taken with a Canon 300mm lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter @ f/6.3 for a smoother background. Below are other views at various f/stops.

Immature Male Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly, Canon R, 300mm with 1.4X Teleconverter, @ f/5.6
Immature Male Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly, Canon R, 300mm with 1.4X Teleconverter, @ f/8
Immature Male Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly, Canon R, 300mm with 1.4X Teleconverter, @ f/8
Immature Male Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly, Canon R, 300mm with 1.4X Teleconverter, @ f/11
Immature Male Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly, Canon R, 300mm with 1.4X Teleconverter, @ f/7.1

New Jersey Brood X cicadas

We went to one of the local parks to see if we could find some dragonflies to photograph. As I was trying to get closer to one of the Dragonflies, I noticed a large insect on the plants along the path. I was surprised to see a very large Cicada with those big red eyes staring at me. I was very close so I used my iPhone 11 Pro with the 4.3mm lens to get a couple of images. The featured image is made from 2 iP11 images to get sharper focus on the Cicada eyes and then focused on the back wingtips. Apparently this is the year Cicadas will re-emerge in NJ from their 17 year life cycle. So I guess it will be getting really noisy soon! Thousands of Cicadas were seen on tree trunks, leaves and fence posts at the Updike Farm in Princeton, NJ.

Cicada, 2 image focus stack, iP11 Pro, 4.3mm lens

Cicadia, iP11 Pro, 4.3mm lens

Cicada, iP11 Pro, 4.3mm lens

Cicada, 2 image Focus Stack, iP11 Pro, 4.3mm lens

Cicada, m43 Olympus, 100-300mm lens @ 300mm

The audio in the iPhone videos below are actually less loud then the actual sound being there!

Sounds of Brood X Cicadas, iPhone 11 Pro
Sounds of Brood X Cicadas

Lancet Clubtail Dragonflies – Mating Wheel Formation

We were walking around Davidsons Mill Pond Park looking for Dragonflies to photograph. We did not see any by the small pond so we went down by the Lake. There the first ones I saw were a pair of Lancet Dragonflies mating. It was not in the usual “Heart” formation” but somewhat close. I was using a 300mm lens @ f/11 with a 1.4X Teleconverter on a Canon 7D. Using f/11 I got enough detail on my subjects but still had a smoother non-cluttered looking background. I also focused on each area of the Dragonflies I was shooting for the panorama instead of stopping down more for a cleaner looking background when the images are blended. The Featured Image is a 2 image Pano to get them both in the image.

Lancet Clubtail Dragonflies, 300mm, f/11, 3 image pano, Canon 7D
Lancet Clubtail Dragonflies, 300mm, f/11, Canon 7D – 2 Image handheld panorama
Lancet Clubtail Dragonflies, 300mm, f/11, Canon 7D – 4 Image handheld panorama

Great Blue Heron Panorama

A three horizontal image panorama of a Great Blue Heron. There times when I am out walking at a Wildlife Refuge when I come upon a photo subject that is too close for the lens I am carrying. In this instance I was walking along the Wildlife Drive near the entrance and saw this Great Blue Heron standing in the water. I was too close for the lens I had with me so I shot three overlapping horizontal images to combine for a vertical panorama. It seems rare when you are too close to get the whole bird in. Usually you do not have enough focal length for what you see and want photograph. If you can shoot a series of images quickly before the bird moves you can make some interesting panorama images. The Featured Image is 3 horizontal images taken with a 300mm lens on a Canon 7D. Assembled & blended in Photoshop. I usually always photograph from the head down for the series or the head then to side for however many images you need.

Last Praying Mantis In the Gardens

The featured image is a stacked multi-image, multi-row Praying Mantis panorama. This was the last Praying Mantis I photographed in our gardens this year. We had quite a few throughout the summer, but this was the largest Mantis I photographed this year. The featured image is 8 images, shot in 3-multi-rows of overlapping images. I managed getting 3 images for the top row, 3 images for middle row & only 2 images for the bottom row before it moved. I was shooting handheld with a 300mm lens @ f/5.6 for a softer, smoother background since I wanted a blurred background not showing details of the flowers & siding on the house. I concentrated my focus on the head and front legs and so the yellow flowers behind the Mantis gave a bright pop of interesting color.

Praying Mantis Head Detail, single image, f/11 for a little more depth of field, 300mm, handheld

Last of the Slaty Skimmers for this year

Another Dragonfly season is pretty much over now so I will have to find other interesting subjects to photograph. Here are some Slaty Skimmer Dragonfly images from my last visit to Davidsons Mill Pond Park before they were gone.

4 Image Focus Stack, 300mm, f/6.3, 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 7D
Slaty Skimmer, 300mm, f/11, 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 7D
Slaty Skimmer, 300mm, f/11, 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 7D
4 Image Focus Stack, 300mm, f/16, 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 7D

Slaty Skimmer @ Davidsons Mill Pond Park

It is nearing the end of the Dragonfly season so there are less opportunities of phot0graphing Dragonflies. We were walking at a local park and noticed this Slaty Skimmer Dragonfly by the pond. This is a 3 image focus stack, shot handheld, @ f/11. I focused on the far wing , then the head, and then the near wingtip. I loaded all 3 images into 1 layered Photoshop file to prepare the final blended image. I used Auto-Align Layers, then Auto-Blend Layers for the blending of the 3 images. I save the layered file, just in case I need to go back to adjust something, then flatten the layers for the final image. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens, with a 1.4x teleconverter on a Canon 7D.

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