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

Damselfly & Dragonfly Season is Starting Soon

It will not be long before we start seeing Dragonflies & Damselflies here in NJ. These are some of my favorite photo subjects. The images here were taken years ago at my pond at my old home. These were taken with an old 200mm Canon FD Manual focus macro lens adapted to a m43 Panasonic GH2 Camera or a Canon 400mm DO Lens with extension tubes for closer focusing. FOV of the Canon FD lens on a m43 body gave me the equivalent of a 400mm Macro lens. The Featured Image is a Damselfly with a raindrop on it’s head.

Damselfly Side View, 200mm FD Canon Lens, Panasonic GH2
Blue Dasher Dragonfly, 400mm Canon DO lens with an Extension Tube for Closer Focusing, Canon 1D mkIV

More Blue Dasher Dragonflies

Another series of images of one of my favorite dragonflies, the Blue Dasher Dragonfly. These were taken over quite a few years and lots of locations. Almost all were taken with a Canon 1D mkIV with a 400mm DO lens. Some with 1.4x or 2X Teleconverters for added reach since they were out a ways in a pond or stream.

Male Blue Dasher, 400mm DO lens,f/11, 2x Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV (15 ft away)
Female Blue Dasher, Canon 400mm DO lens, f/8, Canon 1D mkIV
Female Blue Dasher, Canon 400mm DO lens, f/8, Canon 1D mkIV
Male Blue Dasher, 400mm DO Lens, f/8, Canon 1D mkIV
Blue Dasher (Female), Canon 400mm DO lens, @f/11, Fill Flash w/ Better Beamer Flash Extender, 1D mk IV
Blue Dasher (Male), Canon 400mm DO lens, f/9, Canon 1D mkIV
Blue Dasher (Male), Canon 1D mk IV, 400mm DO lens @ f/13
Blue Dasher, f9, 400mm DO lens, @ f/9, Canon 1D mk IV
Blue Dasher, 400mm DO lens @ f/8, Canon 1D mkIV
Mating Blue Dashers, Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens @ f/13, Canon 1D mkIV, with Fill Flash, FX-1B “Better Beamer” Flash Extender
Blue Dasher, Female, Canon 400mm DO lens w/Extension tubes for closer focusing, @ f/11, with Fill Flash, FX-1B “Better Beamer” Flash Extender, Canon 1d mkIV
Male Blue Dasher, 400mm DO lens,f/11, 2x Teleconverter, Canon 1D mkIV

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.

It Is Dragonfly Season

Some of my favorite photo subjects are Dragonflies and Damselflies. Here are a few Dragonflies to start with. The featured image is a photo of a female Calico Pennant. I was using a 300mm lens that has a close focusing capability, with a 1.4X Teleconverter for a combined focal length of 420mm.

Blue_Dasher_v2_FM_PP_43G7128

Blue Dasher Dragonfly – Female

Eastern_Pondhawk_v1_DM8_18_43G6800

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly – Female

Painted Skimmer Dragonfly

Since we moved, going from Northern NJ to Central NJ, I have to learn the specific names of some of my favorite subjects to photograph, Dragonflies & Damselflies. We are seeing quite a few different types here, we just have to learn the names. Also Males and Females are usually quite different in coloring & markings, so sometimes it is difficult.

We went to Plainsboro Preserve, a 1000 acre Audubon Nature Preserve, looking for Dragons & Damsels and we found quite a few. Most were sitting on the path, warming on the warm gravel & stones. Unfortunately that made for very busy backgrounds. The one below cooperated by sitting on a small branch, giving me a nicer background. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens and was shooting at f/4 to help keep the background softer looking. I sacrificed depth of field for a cleaner looking background. So I tried to shoot fairly straight in to my subject on the first. And a slight angle on the second.

Painted Skimmer Dragonfly v2 PP 5_17_MG_7988Painted Skimmer Dragonfly v2 PP 5 17_MG_7958

 

 

 

 

Blue Dasher Portrait

I was trying different lens, extension tube placement and teleconverters along with fill flash to get better effects for photographing the dragonflies. When I get what I feel is the best combination, I will post it here. I have been trying to maximize the sharpness and still get a smoother background. All these photos are from 5 to 10 feet away from the subjects. I cannot use a normal macro lens since they are in an area that I cannot get close to the dragonflies.

Blue Dasher Landing

When I am shooting Dragonflies, sometimes I pick out an active dragonfly going after bugs. They constantly dart off to grab a bug, then return usually to the same grass or reed to eat their catch, giving you an opportunity to be focused on the area and get a action shot of the Dragonfly landing. Sometimes they might go to a different branch here or there, but overall about 7 out of 10 landings are on the same branch. Trying to track them as they are just flying is hard , especially to get them in focus and framed. This gives you a chance to get some good flight photos. Do not forget to use a high shutter speed, maybe with fill flash.

 

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