Damselfly Macro

I thought I would report on a single image today. This is it.

Balancing Act

I took this at the Lion’s Nature Education Centre near Sai Kung.  The EXIF tells me it was 10.26am.

I went out with my wife and the dog and I didn’t really know what to expect. A mid-morning start is rarely productive and it is always a worry to me when I have company. Whilst I am fully occupied it can get pretty boring for the   entourage. However I do find the extra pair of eyes useful at keeping track if the subject moves suddenly. These damselflies were on the small frog pond. As I approached I heard a rapid succession of plops. The frogs saw me coming. So I was left with a pair of Copera ciliata.

The pond has both good and bad aspects. It is difficult to get good access all the way around but it is slightly elevated so it is possible to get the tripod almost down to damselfly level if they are in the right position. A further challenge is getting a decent background. Many of the shots I declined because they simply looked too messy. Finally, these are dark subjects against white lotus flowers. I get confused between water-lilies and lotus plants so do correct me if I am wrong.

Over a 30 minute session I took about 10 frames and this was the one I finally chose. In some instances the damselflies are not parallel to the camera so depth of field was a problem and I wanted the entire insect to be sharp. If the plant was out of focus so much the better. However even here the upper damselfly created a problem because the background is dark whereas the lower one has a white background. The reason I took relatively few frames was because the damselflies were very skittish. As the temperature warms up they become more mobile. I waited for them to settle each time but even slight adjustments to my position or the tripod seemed to spook them. Lengthy disturbance is clearly not good so I left feeling I had not really managed a decent shot. I am always conscious of walking a fine line between getting a good shot and not disturbing the subject unnecessarily.

Composition was helped by a little cropping but not too much. I processed the shot without too much messing around but I did use selective exposure adjustment on the upper damselfly to increase the visibility of the wings. I also made the background slightly darker to help the contrast and desaturated the whites slightly. I ran a sharpening macro and that was about it.

When I posted this image it received more favourable reactions than I had expected. Sometimes you go out and feel the morning has not been very productive. That was my sense when we headed home. However I had two or three other reasonable shots. Strangely, the image above was not my favourite but as soon as I put this image and indeed my preferred picture into the public domain others passed their own verdicts. So be it.

For the techies, this was the Canon 5D mk III with a 180mm F3.5 macro lens on a tripod, ISO 200, 1/250s at F5.0. No flash was used although I did use the flash with a diffuser on later images that morning. My learning journey continues.

6 thoughts on “Damselfly Macro

  1. Another incredible macro! Glad you explained the process which makes it clear how frustrating it can be and how much work and time goes into getting a single good image. Great stuff Andrew!

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