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

Slaty Skimmer – 3 Image Focus Stack

I was looking for dragonflies and found this Slaty Skimmer at a local park for a photo subject. I wanted a colorful, softer & smoother background so I was using a 400mm f/4 Canon DO lens, with an extension tube on a Canon 1D mkIV. I shot 3 images at different focus points @ f/11. This gives me enough sharpness on the dragonfly (wingtips & tail) but still gives me a very smooth background. This makes my dragonfly stand out more from the soft background.

 

Dragonfly Eyes

An assortment of Dragonfly closeups focusing on their eye & face details. Images taken with 300mm & 400mm lenses with extension tubes.

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Blue Dasher Dragonfly Wing Detail

This Blue Dasher focus stacked image is made with 2 images, blended. 1 focused on the head area & the other focused on the tail area. Both were shot, handheld with a 400mm DO lens, with an extension tube for closer focusing.  This Dasher seemed to have a damaged hindwing on the right side. Images taken @ f/8 to to keep a smoother background so the Blue Dasher stands out. I used Photoshop to align and then blend the 2 images for the final focus stacked image. If I stopped down more to get  everything in focus in 1 shot, the background would have been busier and the Dasher would not stand out as much. I tend to like smoother backgrounds in my Dragonfly images.

 

Blue Dasher Thorax & Wing Detail

I thought it was interesting to see the details of where the wings attach to the thorax on this Blue Dasher dragonfly’s body. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens with a 2x teleconverter and an extension tube to get a closer view. I usually carry extension tubes or closeup filters with me in case I come upon an interesting closeup photo opportunity. But I usually use extension tubes more than closeup filters because you are adding another glass element that might degrade the image. You can also experiment with the placement of the extension tube. Placing the extension tube before or after the teleconverter gives you different “focus zones.” Also the width of the extension tube gives you different focus zones. So it is best to see what combination works best for you and the lenses you are using. But it is fun to try different ways to get the image you want. Plus you never know when it will come in handy. Images below are a series of images using extension tubes & teleconverters with 300mm & 400mm lenses.

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Blue Dasher Dragonfly- 400mm f/4 DO Lens, extension tube, 1.4x teleconverter

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.

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Image somewhat soft on the bottom of the image from shooting through plants that were in the way, but liked the image anyway!

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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.

 

Widow Skimmer

We went to Davidson’s Mill Pond Park to photograph Dragonflies. Here are a series of images of Widow Skimmers. Shot with a 400mm lens, extension tube and then a 1.4x teleconverter in that order. It allows for closer focusing plus enlarges the image some on the sensor, since my subjects are not by the shoreline. You try to get any advantage to get your subject closer or bigger in the frame.

Widow Skimmer v2 DM 7 17_MG_8571Widow Skimmer v2 DM 7 17_MG_8596Widow Skimmer v4 DM 7 17_MG_8655Widow Skimmer wing detail v1 DM 7 17

Widow Skimmers At Davidson’s Mill Pond

I am still going through my images of dragonflies I photographed at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park in NJ. It has been extremely hot here in New Jersey. That seems to make the dragonflies even more active. But seems to have the reverse effect on me! Here are two images of 2 different  Widow Skimmers. Images focus stacked and assembled in Photoshop. Shot with a 400mm f/4 lens, extension tube then a 1.4x teleconverter to achive closer focusing on the dragonfly. It is fun to hunt for Dragonflies here because I am finding some I have not found where I used to live.

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Spangled Skimmers At Davidson’s Mill Pond Park

The Dragonflies are abundant at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park giving photographers a lot of photo opportunities. The temperature here has finally gotten down to normal temperatures for this time of year. With the heat index’s around 110 degrees for most of the week it was not a great time to photograph outdoors chasing dragonflies. There are a lot of Spangled Skimmers in the two main ponds. So this post will highlight these dragonflies. This is the first time I have come across these dragonflies. It is interesting to see a few different varieties of dragonflies by moving to a new home only 65 miles from where I used to be.

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Smiling Blue Dasher Dragonfly

For some reason Blue Dasher Dragonflies seem to look like they are smiling when you see them head on, giving an impression of a Happy Dragonfly. This Blue Dasher was out in a pond at a public county park, probably 6 to 8 feet from the shoreline. The featured image is a 4 shot Image Stack, manually focused and assembled in Photoshop. I used a combination of a 400mm lens, an extension tube, then a 1.4x teleconverter to actually enlarge the image on the sensor with the extension tube added. Sometimes I add another extension tube between the teleconverter and the camera body which enlargens the image on the sensor even more. But narrows your focus range even more and you tend to need a fill flash because of loss of light reaching the sensor to get a usable exposure for a subject that is somewhat moving its head or wings or its perch is moving in a breeze. Plus the added extension tubes also takes away light reaching the sensor. Sort of like the “Old” days when you were using a 4×5 or 8×10 view camera when you had the bellows racked out and had to adjust your exposure because of light loss from the distance of the lens and the film plane. By moving teleconverter and extension tubes you can get a variety of focus windows and enlargement of your final image on the sensor.

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Blue Dasher 4 img Stack for Blue Dasher, then 4 image pano for the stick the Dasher was on. So 2 techniques used for final image.

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Older shot showing similar Setup with one 1.4x teleconverter plus fill flash needed for using two separated extension tubes.

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Another extreme setup with 2 extension tubes and 2 teleconverters. This really enlargens the image on the sensor but you need a fill flash or a very high ISO setting and has a very limited focus window.

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Dragonfly setup at my old pond

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