Posted on October 19, 2016
This Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly flew into a bush close to the edge of a pond where I was set up for photographing Dragonflies. I was concentrating on a different dragonfly before I noticed this one. It allowed me to get fairly close with a 300mm lens with extension tubes and then I added a 1.4x Teleconverter to get even closer. I like photographing Dragonflies for the challenge, but did not like using a macro lens. Either I had to get too close and it flew off or it was in a spot I could not get close to. So I came up with a few solutions that work for me. One, I do not bother the Dragonflies or Damselflies by being too close and having them fly off and 2, I can photograph them closeup even if I cannot get close to them. By putting the 1.4x teleconverter in front of the extension tubes, it actually magnifies the image larger on the camera sensor. To get even more magnification I sometimes use two extension tubes placing them in a certain order – lens, shorter extension tube – 1.4x teleconverter – larger extension tube then camera body. I have even used 2 1.4X Teleconverters with success. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. You lose auto exposure and auto focus so you have to look at your histogram to adjust your exposure. Also fill flash with a Better Beamer flash extender helps. I also raise the ISO to raise the shutter speed because with the Extension Tubes & Teleconverter you are losing light and your shutter speed drops. This enables you to get close to dragonflies that are out a little from the shoreline at a pond or lake. It also gives you a longer working distance so the subject does not fly off. Trying different configurations and practice is fun and rewarding when seeing your final images. I have even done 5 or 6 shots with this for a panorama of a Dragonfly about 1.5″ long, Moving and focusing along the Dragonfly and assembling the image in Photoshop.
Example – this is with a 400mm lens with the setup of extension tubes, 1.4x teleconverter, larger extension tube, camera body with flash, giving a working distance from about 4 to 8 feet. thinner or larger extension tubes gives you more or less magnification.
Posted on July 28, 2016
Some images in the yard, just looking to see what I could find to keep myself amused. I liked the Korean Dogwood berry close-up. That was at about 1.5X. Then I noticed this one had a visitor next to it. I guess it was about a quarter of an inch in size. Sometimes it is interesting to see what you can find close to home. 2 images stacked in Photoshop.
Posted on January 9, 2016
When the weather gets colder and the days get shorter and grayer it is fun to shoot some extreme closeups of natural subjects in the studio. When I am photographing outside I collect subjects to photograph in the studio at a later date. My favorite is feathers, but leaves, seeds or almost anything natural can be interesting. Your studio can be your kitchen, living room, etc. or an actual photo studio. It is fun to try stretching your photographic vision in a controlled environment to see what you come up with. It can be extreme closeups of everyday items in your home or natural items you find and bring inside. It is interesting to see even a slight change in angle or shift in lighting can make a big difference in your final image. Simplistically, shooting parallel to your image gives you more depth of field across the subject, shooting at an angle gives you more of a view to highlight a certain area in sharp focus and a softer look in other areas highlighting a certain area you want to show. Also you can use many homemade items to add to your image. Try a small reflector or mirror to bounce back a little highlight to an area or even a white fill card. Lighting from above and behind adds more to surface textures. It is fun to try different techniques or just experiment to see what you get. Another technique to try is focus stacking, especially for closeup macro shots for more depth of field in your image. Images below are from 1X to 6 or 7X with a variety of macro lenses. 50mm macro, Canon MPE 65mm , 100mm macro and 150mm macro.
Posted on November 29, 2015
Closeup detail of a Blue Dasher Dragonfly Wing. This dragonfly is only about an inch and a half long. Hard to get closeup wing detail with a normal macro lens, especially without disturbing your subject or if there is a distance of water between you and your subject. From commercial work I have a wide assortment of macro lenses to chose from, but for dragonflies my favorite setup is a hybrid setup of telephoto lens, extension tube, 1.4X teleconverter and another extension tube. I also use fill flash with a Better Beamer flash extender. If you use this combination it is manual focus and exposure is determined from your histogram as you are pushing the auto exposure and auto focus. By using 2 extension tubes on each end of the teleconverter you are actually enlarging the image on the sensor. With trial and error you soon become used to using this combination and exposures become consistent. But you can get closeups of subjects that are usually out of reach. Also handy to do a 3 or 5 shot panorama or a stacked multi-shot image of a small subject.
Posted on August 27, 2014
Posted on July 14, 2014
When a new dragonfly emerges from it’s exoskeleton (called exuvia once it is completely out), it is pale in color and the wings are almost transparent. It takes about another week away from the pond before it matures into its coloring. In this stage they are called Teneral (soft) and after a few days they harden up and take on the coloring of an adult dragonfly. We saw this one in an evergreen tree near the pond early in the morning. It was in a shadowy area against the darker green of the evergreen. After a few photos we left it alone. I am wondering what kind of dragonfly it is. We couldn’t tell from the coloring and shape we saw in the Teneral phase. I have seen Blue dashers, Green Darners, Common Whitetails and Twelve-spotted Skimmers laying eggs in the pond.
Posted on June 9, 2014
I found this Soldier Fly on this interesting plant background when we were at The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge by Cambridge Maryland. I like the green in the bug and the green in the flora that complement each other. This was at the new Large Observation Platform on the Wildlife Drive. At the entrance to the platform there are lots of plants along the drive, with a large variety of bugs and dragonflies moving about. Also look for webs with water drops (if it had rained) or condensation on them early in the morning. We usually go there for birds. They are known for Bald Eagles Ospreys, Tundra Swans, Snow Geese, White Pelicans, etc. When it quiets down around noon it is a great place for macro or closeup photos, landscapes, or just wandering around to see what you can find. During the warmer months it is also a good place for a wide variety of Dragonflies. You do not need a macro lens to have fun shooting bugs or closeups. When I am out wandering around I always have a set of extension tubes in my photo vest. They come in handy when you find an interesting subject. Try using extension tubes to get closer to your subject and have fun seeing what you can find.