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.

 

Male & Female Blue Dasher Dragonflies

We went to a local park to see what we could find. Found a few Blue Dashers by the ponds, but most were looking the worse for wear. Then I concentrated on Butterflies that were around. When photographing Dragonflies I usually shoot multiple images at different focus points. This is to keep a smoother background and still get more of the dragonflies body and wings in somewhat sharper focus. It also depends on if the dragonfly cooperates and does not change position or flies off. The featured image I only had time for 1 shot so the tail is softer. The others were 2 images, so somewhat more depth of field.

Blue_Dasher_FM_8_19_v2_76A1841

Female Blue Dasher Dragonfly – f/8, 1/80 sec., +0.33 Exposure Compensation

Blue_Dasher_Male_DM 2img_stk_v2

Male Blue Dasher Dragonfly – 2 image handheld stack to retain more image sharpness from head to tail and still keep a smoother background. Canon 300mm f/4 Close Focusing lens, with 1.4X Teleconverter shot @ f/11 – 1600 ISO

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