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

Harvest Moon – Multi-stacked Teleconverter Tests

I tried a few different setups to photograph the Harvest Moon on October 1st. I was setup in my sunroom shooting out the side door. So I lined up a few teleconverters to try different combinations to see what combinations would work or not work well. The combinations of teleconverters is also based on which teleconverters would actually fit and go together in stacking because of protruding lenses or openings around the lenses in the teleconverters. In all I used 4 different brands of Teleconverter for my tests & 5 different teleconverters. I usually would use my 400mm f/4 DO lens but I loaned that to a friend so I was using the Tamron 150-600mm @ 600mm with the Teleconverter combinations. I was just curious of the quality of the images with different combinations of Teleconverters. The Featured Image was shot @ 600mm with a 2X Teleconverter.

Harvest Moon, 600mm, 2X Teleconverter & 1.4X Teleconverter
Harvest Moon, 1.4X, 1.7X & 2X Teleconverters with Tamron 150-600mm Lens @ 600mm
EOS R, 150-600mm Tamron Lens @600mm, 1.4X Teleconverter, 1.7X Teleconverter & Sigma 2X Teleconverter. iPhone Image of one of the stacked teleconverter combinations.

Osprey Nests On Platforms @ 1200mm

A series of Osprey Platforms with nest images from the Edwin B. Forsythe NWR in Oceanville, NJ. I was using a Tamron 150-600mm lens with a 2X teleconverter to get closer to the Osprey Platforms. Then cropped in a little for a tighter composition. You can see the nests are not the neatest or cleanest when you are looking that close, but are still interesting. Also it is interesting when an Osprey sees you photographing them they really stare you down! The Canon R, even with a 2X teleconverter on a Tamron 150-600mm auto focuses quite quickly and right on focus. The Canon R will autofocus even with stacked 2x & 1.4X (or 1.7x) teleconverters. Did not try stacking 2X Teleconverters. I have also found that when stacking teleconverters I usually stop down a little more to help with sharpness.

Osprey_nest_v2_Brig_1200mm_76A7373Osprey on Nest_v2_76A7119Osprey on Nest_v2_76A7117Osprey on Nest_v7_1200mm_76A7115


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.

Canon closeup IMG_1245

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


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.


Dragonfly setup at my old pond

Dragonfly Closeups & Image Stacked Closeups

Some of the time, when photographing Dragonflies, I need to get closer, but water or something is in the way. Or I just want more working distance and do not want to use a macro lens with skidish subjects. After photographing them for over 10 or 12 years I have come up with different solutions. And I want a really soft looking backgrounds! Or I am at a National Wildlife Refuge where you can’t go off the Drive, so you need more reach for the different dragons you see there. So I have come up with different combinations to solve that problem. The more you experiment, the more combinations you come up with. I sometimes use a telephoto lens, usually 400mm f/4, an extension tube, a 1.4x teleconverter, and then a longer extension tube. Sometimes I add another 1.4x teleconverter at the camera. Than add a flash with a Better Beamer Flash extender because with the extension tubes I loose a lot of light, so I need more power to light my subject Dragonfly. This gives me a working distance, depending on which extension tubes and combinations of teleconverters I use, from 2 to 8 ft or even  more, but filling the frame with my subject small Dragonfly. The Blue Dashers are about 1.5″ long. Some ot the others are a little larger and the Damselflies are smaller. The extension tube spacing actually enlarges the Dragonfly image on the sensor. But you do loose a lot of light. It seems awkward, but once you get used to the combination you use, it gets easier to use in the field. Many times I actually shoot a stack series of focus point images along a dragonfly to get a sharp final image from head to tail, wingtip to wingtip or specific areas I want in Photoshop. I probably posted too many images, but it shows the effects and details I was going for. They are such fascinating photo subjects! Sorry for such a long Post!

Blue Dasher v1_MG_9455BlueDasher v2_MG_9904


Extreme setup with 2 teleconverters, for closer focusing and extreme magnification.



My Standard setup for closeup Dragonfly photos. The wider teleconverter next to the camera body magnifies the image a little more and you can get even more image filling frames.

blue-dasher-female-v34davidsons-mill-2016_43g4418eastern-pondhawk-dragonfly-v2-davis-millv1-davidsons-mill_43g4353blue dasher v1 cf 2015_MG_8886_43G1023_43G1020Blue Skimmer v1_43G7939Canon closeup IMG_1245_43G7343 v2

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This Dragonfly was eating another dragonfly about 15 ft away

_80I9991 Blue Dasher dragonfly v4_MG_0273 v3Skimmer wing_MG_0251 v2_1110034 cuDragonfly 5Blue Dasher at my Pond

Ring-billed Gull Stacked Teleconverter test

When it is a slow day finding subjects, sometimes I try different ways to photograph my subjects. This day was very quiet and the Ducks were really far out on the lake. Not to much was flying by and even the Canada Geese were gone. Quite often the wildlife is quite far out in the water or on the far shore. This Ring-billed Gull landed on a duck box giving me a subject.  It stayed for a while so I thought I would try stacking teleconverters. I used 1.4x and a 2x teleconverter on my 300mm f/4  lens. The 1.4x adds 1 stop. The 2x adds 2 more stops. So that combination brought me up to f/11 at 840mm and with a 1.3x crop body, 35mm equivalent is 1092mm. Being a photographer for so long, using teleconverters in the early days, I always used to add 1 or 2 stops when shooting with teleconverters. Now with teleconverters being much better I usually only add 1 stop, so I was shooting at f/16 with this combo. But using stacked teleconverters I probably should have added 2 stops to go to f/16. Even so it came out quite sharp. Good for static subjects.




Snowy Owls

We had heard that there was a Snowy Owl at the Brigantine Division of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville NJ, but we thought it had moved on or that we never could find it, if it was still even there. We mainly went to see the large flocks of Snow Geese. To our surprise we found 2 Snowy owls there. 1 around the bend from the other one, near the end of the Wildlife Drive before the wooded area. They were quite far out, but we were still surprised they were still there and we actually saw them throughout the rest of our time there. It was hard to spot them because it was warm and a lot of the snow had disappeared, leaving small clumps of snow out in the fields, so you were basically looking for a small “more vertical clump of white” out in the fields. They seemed to keep getting farther out in the fields as the day progressed. They are not great shots, but what I could get with what we had. I wish I had a tripod with me, which would have helped, but we were traveling light that day. I tried a few with stacked Teleconverters also. So with  a 1.4X Canon Teleconverter, with a 2X Canon Teleconverter, giving me with the 1.3 crop of the Canon MkIV about a 1456mm. Not really a 1456mm, but equivalent to that field of view as a 35mm format. These were also handheld, but with that combination I had a max f/stop of f/11, so I stopped down one more stop to f/16 and raised my ISO to 1250. I was surprised the MkIV still auto focused with all that added on. After a series I then went back to just the 2X Teleconverter. With the 400mm DO, stacking that much with the Diffractive Optics took it’s toll a little. The 400mm DO works great with a 1.4X Teleconverter at all distances. With a 2X it works well unless your subject is pretty far out, then the DO optics get softer and a little gritty, so the Stacking teleconverters was pushing it. Anyway we still had fun seeing them. Thanks for looking.

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Snowy Owl – cropped
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/16 @ 1/250 sec, -0.33 exposure compensation, ISO 1250

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Snowy Owl – Full Frame Image
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 1.4X Series III Teleconverter, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/16 @ 1/250 sec, -0.33 exposure compensation, ISO 1250

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Snowy Owl – Full Frame Image
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/11 @ 1/1000 sec, -0.67 exposure compensation, ISO 800

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Snowy Owl – Cropped Image
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/11 @ 1/1000 sec, -0.67 exposure compensation, ISO 800

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Snowy Owl – Cropped Image
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/11 @ 1/1000 sec, -0.67 exposure compensation, ISO 800

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Snowy Owl – Cropped Image
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/11 @ 1/1250 sec, -0.67 exposure compensation, ISO 800

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Snowy Owl – Cropped Image
Canon EOS 1D MkIV, Canon 400mm DO IS lens, Canon 2X Series II Teleconverter, f/11 @ 1/1000 sec, -0.67 exposure compensation, ISO 800

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