Mating Dragonflies

Over a week ago we went to Davidsons Mill Pond Park to see if we could find some dragonflies to photograph before the end of Dragonfly season here. I was surprised to see so many Slaty Skimmers along with a variety of others still here. As I was setting up on the back area of the first small pond these two flew in and landed right in front of me. I was surprised since it was so late in the season. Also they were in the “wheel” position for mating. After my first few shots I moved in a little closer to photograph a 2 image pano for a more square image. The featured image is a single shot. The image below are 2 images, stacked for the final closeup image. I was using a 300mm lens with a 1.4X teleconverter. I was on the edge of the pond so could not get any closer.

2 image Pano, 300mm, f/11, blended in Photoshop.

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.

Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly In Yard

It was very hot outside to go to a park, so I was looking for subjects in our gardens. There were a few Eastern Amberwing Dragonflies but they seemed very wary of my camera. Finally, after a while, they seemed to tolerate my presence so I was able to get some interesting shots. They are some of the smallest dragonflies, only a little under an inch long. So you have to get pretty close to get detailed images.

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Eastern Amberwing, f/8, 1250 ISO, 300mm f4 lens, 1.4X teleconverter, Canon 7D

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Eastern Amberwing, f/8, 1250 ISO, 300mm f4 lens, 1.4X teleconverter, Canon 7D

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Eastern Amberwing, Obelisk Position, f/16, 1250 ISO, 300mm w/ 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 7D

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Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly, 4 Image focus stack for wingtips, 1250 ISO, handheld, 300mm with 1.4x teleconverter, Canon 7D

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.

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

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

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

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Blue Dasher Female, f/13 – busy background version

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

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

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Female Blue Dasher, 300mm, f/ 5.6

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Cropped version of above image for face detail

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

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Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly,  300mm, f/5.6

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Blue Dasher- female, 300mm f/11

Seaside Dragonlet Dragonflies

These Seaside Dragonlet dragonfly images were from a previous trip to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Maryland. It is a little over a 3 hour trip, but is fun to find a few different types of Dragonflies besides the usual ones by my home. A good spot to photograph dragonflies is around the main observation platform near the start of  the Wildlife Drive. It has a long ramp instead of stairs to the main platform. So there are many dragonflies all around the platform. Plus easy access to dragonflies in the plants along the ramp sides. Another spot is the wooded area along the Wildlife Drive that has some water on both sides of the Drive. But dragons along here seem to move around much more and do not stay in one place long. The featured image is a male Seaside Dragonlet. Because of the angle, I shot 4 handheld images at different focus points. When adjusting my files I loaded the 4 images into 1 layered Photoshop file. Then I aligned the layers and then blended the layers for the final base file. All images were taken with a Canon 300mm f/4 lens with a Canon 1.4x teleconverter & Canon 7D.

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Screen Grab showing the final finished merged Layer and below that what Photoshop chose as the sharpest areas on each layer. 

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Female Seaside Dragonlet Dragonfly

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Male Seaside Dragonlet Dragonfly

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Female Seaside Dragonlet

Flying Great Blue Herons

It seems like Great Blue Herons just glide along in flight for being such a large bird. They do have quite a wide wingspan from ~ 5.5 to 6.6 ft. They can cruise @ 20-30 miles per hour. So they are fun photo subjects especially if they are flying around a small lake and you have long lenses!MG_2565GBH_CF_MG_2830GBH_v1_CFMG_2831MG_2833GBH_V1 CF_MG_2817fmGBH_FltBy_MG_2707

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.

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Great Egret Landing

A Great Egret landing in the early morning light at a small local lake. Image taken with 400mm DO lens with 1.4X teleconverter.

Bald Eagle Soaring At Blackwater NWR

I am still going through my backup hard drives for images to post on the blog.  I think we will finally be able to go to some local parks tomorrow to get some recent images to post on the blog.  One in particular usually has Bluebirds this time of year. The images posted here are from a previous trip years ago to Blackwater NWR in Maryland. They were taken soon after we got there early in the morning as the sun was rising. To bad the Eagle was flying away from me, but I liked the colorful sky that helped make the images interesting.  All images were taken with a 400mm Canon DO lens with a 1.4x teleconverter on a 1D series body.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

These were taken years ago at my pond in our old yard. I did not realize that when we removed a 20×40 ft pool and put in a large pond it would turn into my outdoor Macro & Wildlife Studio. Got lots of interesting images there. Also got to try many different techniques to photograph small subjects across the pond.

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Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly – 400mm w/ 1.4X Teleconverter

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