Great Spreadwing Damselfly

I was going through backup hard drives and found this image of a male Great Spreadwing Damselfly that was taken years ago at our home pond. I was using a Canon 70-300mm DO lens @300mm on a Canon 7D. I did not realize when I was photographing the Damselfy it was considered rare.
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Pond Bubbles

With the coming of Spring, I cannot wait to get our pond cleaned out from Winter’s leaves and debris, to ready it for the flowers, bugs, Dragonflies & Damselflies. It is my outdoor macro and small critter studio and is amazing what shows up during Spring, Summer and Fall to Photograph. Here are some images from last year.

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Closeup Dragonfly Wing – Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro @f/14, 1/13 sec, +0.33 exposure compensation, ISO 640

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Closeup Dragonfly Wing – Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro @f/14, 1/50 sec, ISO 640

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Common Green Darner, Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens, 30mm Extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm Extension Tube, f/8, 1/125 sec, -0.33 exp. comp, ISO 1250

 

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Common Green Darner, Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens, 30mm Extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm Extension Tube, f/8, 1/100 sec, -0.67 exp. comp, ISO 1250

 

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Blue Dasher, Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm f/4 DO lens, 30mm Extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm Extension Tube, f/8, 1/250 sec, -0.67 exp. comp, ISO 1250

 

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Hemlock Cones, Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150mm Macro f/2.8, Canon 1.4X Teleconverter Series III, f/5.6, 1/60 sec, ISO 400

 

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Bug on Leaf, Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150mm Macro f/2.8, f/7.1, 1/320 sec, -0.33 exp. comp, ISO 320

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Canon 7D, Sigma 150mm Macro f/2.8, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, f/8, 1/320 sec, +0.33 exposure compensation

 

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Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150mm Macro f/2.8, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO 400

 

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Canon EOS 7D, 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DO lens, f/11, 1/320 sec, +0.33 exposure compensation, ISO 320

 

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Blue Dasher, Female, Canon EOS 7D, Canon 400mm DO f/4, Extension Tubes, Canon Series III 1.4X Teleconverter, f/5.6, 1/200 sec., -1.33 exposure compensation, ISO 1250

 

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Flying Blue Dasher, Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO f/4, 30mm extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm extension tube, On Camera Fill Flash w/ Better Beamer Flash Extender, – 2.67 exp compensation, f/10, 1/125 sec, ISO 640

 

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Blue Dasher, Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO f/4, 30mm extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm extension tube, On Camera Fill Flash w/ Better Beamer Flash Extender, – 0.67 exp compensation, f/8, 1/250 sec, ISO 400

 

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Blue Dasher, Canon EOS 1D MkIII, Canon 400mm DO f/4, 30mm extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm extension tube, On Camera Fill Flash w/ Better Beamer Flash Extender, -1 exp compensation, f/8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400

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Big Red Skimmer, Canon EOS 1D MkIII, Canon 400mm DO f/4, 30mm extension tube, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, 20mm extension tube, On Camera Fill Flash w/ Better Beamer Flash Extender, – 1 exp compensation, f/8, 1/30 sec, ISO 400

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Closeup Dragonfly Wing – Canon EOS 7D, Sigma 150mm f/2.8 Macro @f/8, 1/30 sec, -1 exp. comp., ISO 400

One of My Favorite Macro Setups

I enjoy shooting a lot of closeup and macro shots. One setup I like when I do not want to carry a lot of gear and still have maximum flexibility,  is a m4/3 camera body with adapters for my old manual Canon FD 200mm f/4 macro and Nikon 55mm macro. I am using a Panasonic GH2 body, but with the crop factor it is like using a 400mm f/4 macro, but with the depth of field of a 200mm macro, which is more depth of field than a 400mm. This helps when you get really close. Because my old macro lenses are manual focus, on the GH2 with the electronic viewfinder, I just push the control wheel, and zoom in for critical focus. Also as you are shooting you get a preview in the viewfinder of your shot, so you instantly see if any highlights are blown or if you need exposure compensation. With the articulating rear screen it also helps when your subjects are in difficult positions. Because the body is not stabilized I use my tripod when using the old manual focus lenses. The Olympus OM-D e-m5 or the new OM-D Pro bodies have stabilization in the bodies so using these lenses would then be on a stabilized setup which is an interesting. Using the old manual focus Nikon 55mm, with the crop factor, would be like a 110mm macro with amazing depth of field. The GH2 with the Panasonic 14-140mm & 100-300mm stabilized lenses, with the crop factor (2X) is like carrying 28- 280mm and 200-600mm in a lightweight package. I am quite impressed with image quality of both of these lenses and often carry the GH2 with one of them as a second backup setup when my main setup is a Canon body with long telephotos or macro lens. Gives the opportunity to shoot something wide if a 400mm is my main camera, or something far if my main camera has a macro lens. I shoot raw files and using Adobe Camera Raw adjust for sharpness and to control the noise. If I have to I can use up to 3200 – 6400 ISO. A lot of damselflies and dragonflies I shoot at my pond are late in the evening or early in the morning when they are not moving around yet, or after a rain shower when the light is low. If you access to a m43 body give it a try, it is a lot of fun.

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Green on Green

 

 

Sometimes when I am out enjoying nature, looking for birds or wildlife, I keep an eye open for alternate themes that I find interesting. This can fall into almost any photo category. Sometimes they work out well and are great additional images either for prints or for my ebooks. They also help tell a story if used with other images. This also helps sharpen your eye for what is going on around you as you are out in the field. Often it is also more rewarding and fun than finding the same Great Blue Heron in the same spot as last week. It gives you the chance to try different compositions, crops, depth of field, etc. There are unlimited themes you can work with and can help push your creativity. Here I am showing Green on Green, which is great in Spring & Summer, but tough in Winter in the Northeast. Use your imagination to come up with themes you like. White on Black, Red & Blue, Hard & Soft, Sharp & Soft, Dark & Light, you can come up with an endless list. Next time you are out in the field, and it is a slow day, look closely around you and you might be surprised at what you find. These images here were from local parks, my yard and National Wildlife Refuges. Images here were shot with everything from 400mm to macro lenses with Canon equipment to Panasonic GH2 with Canon EF and FD lenses. Thanks for looking and see what you can find.

Click on the image below to see a slideshow.

Dragonfly at My Backyard Pond

Our backyard pond is one of my favorite locations for photographing dragonflies. Even though it is a controlled area that I shoot in, I still cannot use a standard macro lens, because they’re about 8 to 10 feet away, with water between us. Also dragonflies are skittish if you get too close. They do seem to get used to you after a while, but are still wary of your presence. Sometimes they land on the end of my lens, I guess they are keeping me company. Also using a macro lens in the normal 50mm to 100mm range you have a greater depth of field, which makes it harder to achieve a smoother non distracting or busy looking background behind the dragonfly.  I have come up with my own combination of accessories to achieve the results I am looking for. I used a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with a 400 mm F/4 DO lens, with a 1.4 teleconverter with two extension tubes. The trick for getting the magnification needed for a 400mm telephoto lens, besides close focusing is to have the lens, then, a 36 mm extension tube, then the teleconverter, and then a 20 mm extension tube, and finally the camera body. This actually magnifies the image slightly so it is larger on the sensor than just using one extension tube behind the teleconverter. Also it allows a closer minimum focus with more magnification. Depending on the brand of extension tubes, you might loose accurate metering, so check your exposure with your histogram & adjust your exposure appropriately.  Also remember not to underexpose your images, which tends to increase noise in your shadows & the dark areas of the dragonfly and in the background. These were photographed without fill flash, which I usually use to open up the shadows & dark tones. This time I just opened up the shadows a little while adjusting my files. When using a fill flash with a Better Beamer Flash extender or similar, I usually adjust the flash to -1 stop to – 1/3 stop so as not to overpower the ambient light, which would look unnatural. Depends on how harsh the light is, and backlit or front lighting.  Also fill flash is important and needed when you go on and try to photograph these fun subjects flying. Opens up a new set of problems and solutions. But that is for another blog. Thanks and visit again soon.

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