2 – Twelve-Spotted Skimmer 5 Image Focus Stacks

I was going through my some of my back-up drives to clear up space for newer images. I am trying not to add even more drives that I have to deal with! As I was clearing up space I was finding interesting images that I have not posted here. These 2 images are of a Twelve-Spotted Skimmer dragonfly that was visiting my pond at my old home years ago. Both images are a series of 5 images focused at different points along the wings, tail & head. I used to use this technique when I could not get closer to my subject Dragonflies because they were out in the middle of my pond. I lowered my camera to look a little more up and to get a more colorful background on the Featured Image. I was using a Canon 7D with a 400mm DO lens with a Canon Flash with a Better Beamer Flash Extender to fill in more details on the Dragonfly. I was also using stacked Teleconverters with extension tubes in between so I only had a limited in-focus window. Arranging the Teleconverters & Extension Tubes in different orders or different size Extension Tubes gives you different zones of focus. So it takes a little practice to get used to using this technique for predictable results! The Dragonfly was 15.4 feet away (according to the Raw Data). The focused-stacked images were loaded into a Photoshop file and auto-aligned & auto-blended for the final images. The images of the Camera Setup showing the Extension Tubes & Teleconverters placement were on a Canon 1D MkIV. I did not have an image showing the 7D with this setup!

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer, 5 image stack with very close overlaps, 400mm DO, Fill-Flash w/ Better Beamer Flash Extender.
Camera Setup with Flash Extender & flash, Teleconverters & Extension Tubes (This was from a different day so camera here is a Canon 1D mk IV)
Camera Setup with Flash Extender, Teleconverters, Extension Tubes & Flash

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

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

Common_Whitetail_Male_v2_420mm_f11_76A0769

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.

 

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