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

Great Blue Heron In The Grasses

As we were driving along the Brigantine Wildlife Drive looking for photo subjects we came upon this Great Blue Heron standing in the Grasses. It was quite far out so I put a 2X Teleconverter on my 150-600mm lens to get a closer image. It came out fairly well considering the Tamron 150-600mm lens @ 600mm with a 2X teleconverter (1200mm) is somewhat pushing the sharpness of the lens & image. Stopping down more to f/16 helped quite a bit plus using more Sharpening in Camera Raw when adjusting my images also helped. Usually when using a Teleconverter, I stop down more than I usually do when not using a Teleconverter. For example – when using a 1.4X teleconverter I stop down 1 more f/stop than usual. When using a 1.7X or 2X Teleconverter I stop down 2 stops more than usual. I flattened my layers & duplicated the final layer to have a duplicate layer above my final layer. Using Filter > Other>High Pass Sharpening I had a Grayscale duplicate image above my final color layer. The Grayscale layer was then changed from Normal to Overlay in the layers palette and I lowered the opacity of the High Pass layer to about 40 percent opacity. This just adds a little more Crispness or Sharpness (on the image edges) since I was using a 2X Teleconverter on the Tamron 150-600mm Lens. When using a Grayscale High Pass layer technique it is best to not go too “heavy” on the opacity of High Pass layer. Usually I only go to 20% or 30% opacity on the High Pass layer, but really depends on the image you are working on. This technique can also help sharpness when printing images on an Ink Jet Printer which is basically spraying the ink. But for Inkjet printing I would lower the High Pass layer even a little more. It takes some practice but helps. In my old commercial photo studio before I retired we also did a lot of Wide Format printing for our Corporate & Advertising Agency clients. I had 2- 60″ wide HP Printers for indoor display & fine art graphics & 44″ & 63″ Epson Printers for outdoor graphics or indoor specialty medias. Give this technique a try, but do not overdo the opacity of the High Pass layer. Again it takes some practice, but comes in handy.

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.

3 Ospreys On Osprey Platform

I photographed these 3 Ospreys along the Wildlife Drive at the Brigantine Division of the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in Oceanville, NJ. In the Spring & Summer months there is a lot of activity at the Osprey Platforms along the Wildlife Drive. Some Platforms are fairly close to the Drive, where others are a little more distant from the Wildlife Drive. Usually the closer ones are crowded with cars lined up so I tend to like the ones further away and shoot with longer lenses. Usually I am photographing them in-flight coming & going from the Platforms but here I liked the 3 lined up in a row looking like a family Portrait.

Osprey Landing, 400mm DO lens, 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV (560mm) @ f/9, 1/640 sec., subject 154 ft away
Osprey Landing, 400mm DO lens, 1.4X Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV (560mm) @ f/9, 1/640 sec., subject 154 ft away

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

Eastern Forktail Damselfly – 9 image Focus Stack

I am going through backup Hard Drives clearing out files not needed to clear up some of my storage space. I found this image of an Male Eastern Forktail Damselfly covered with the raindrops after a heavy rain. I thought it looked interesting with the heavy amount of raindrops. I was using a Sigma 150mm macro lens with a 1.4X Teleconverter on a Canon 1D MkIV. To get more in focus but still keep a soft uncluttered background I was shooting with my aperture @ f/4.5. I shot 9 images along the Damselfly and the water drops . Then loaded them into 1 layered Photoshop file to blend into my final image. Luckily the Damselfly did not move as I was photographing it. The 2nd image is a Immature Female Eastern Forktail Damselfly shot at the same session as the Featured Image.

Immature Female Eastern Forktail Damselfly, 8 image Focus Stack, 150mm Sigma Macro @f8

Monarch Butterfly On Buttonbush

I was looking for Dragonflies to photograph at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge Maryland, but came across this Monarch Butterfly on this Buttonbush plant. I was using a 400mm DO lens with a 1.4x Teleconverter on a Canon 1DmkIV. I thought it looked interesting hanging upside down on the spherical pincushion blossoms. They are composed of dense clusters of tiny white tubular flowers. Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis) is often lauded for its utility rather than its beauty. Its commercial introduction in 1735 was primarily for beekeepers (hence, its other common name of honey-bells), who cultivated this deciduous shrub as a pollen and nectar resource for honeybees. This wetland shrub can be found in low-lying areas, swamps, marshes, bogs, and wetlands, and along the edges of ponds, streams, and rivers. It is often used to develop and restore wetlands, control erosion in riparian areas, and create wildlife habitats.

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

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

Common Whitetail Dragonflies From Davidsons Mill Pond Park

We went to the Audubon Plainsboro Preserve looking for dragonflies and any other interesting subjects we could find to photograph. We found a male & female Common Whitetail Dragonfly in 2 different locations along our walk. The Featured Image is a Female Common Whitetail Dragonfly 2 shot focus stack @ f/8. I focused first on the head & then focused on the tail. Then blended the 2 images in Photoshop for the final image. By shooting 2 images @ f/8 and combining the 2 images I had the depth of field to get the head & tail in focus and still have a somewhat smoother background I wanted without getting a more cluttered looking background. Usually I would use f/5.6 instead of f/8 but I only wanted to use 2 images in case the dragonfly flew off. All images in this post were taken with a Canon 7D with a 300mm f/4 lens & 1.4X Teleconverter.

Female Common Whitetail Dragonfly, f/ 5.6. Showing smoother uncluttered background but the tail sharpness is softer than the 2 image stacked image.

Female Common Whitetail Dragonfly @ f/11, 300mm, 1.4x teleconverter. Showing even at f/11 the tail sharpness is softer than the 2 image focus stacked image.

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Immature Male Common Whitetail Dragonfly, 300mm, 1.4x teleconverter, @ f/8, Canon 7D, showing smoother, uncluttered background.

Immature Male Common Whitetail Dragonfly, 300mm, 1.4x teleconverter, @ f/16, Canon 7D, showing a more cluttered distracting background.

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