Odonata

It is a very good time for dragon and damselflies. High summer. This year I am hiding in the cool and struggling to walk up stairs. So I resort to the archives to take us away from the raspberry ripple skies of dawn. Many followers and visitors will not have seen some of my older “ode” shots. Here are my tips for a successful photo of a dragon or damselfly.

I use a 180mm F3.5 macro lens (which has now died on me), tripod mounted. The longer lens gives good working distance so as not to spook the insect. Occasionally I will use a little fill flash at around -1.66 to lift the shadows under the body. Typically I will need an F stop of at least F11 unless I can get perfectly parallel to the body or I am deliberately using a narrow plane of focus for effect. I frame my shots using Live View, so I can see the image on the back of the DSLR before I release the shutter. This also means no vibration from the mirror slap. I use a cable release. Shutter speed is often slow and it is important to wait for breezes to die down. Finding a clean background is often difficult where I shoot. I try to get down to dragonfly eye-level rather than shoot down at it. When all these come together the effect is quite pleasing to me but you can be the judge.

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher

Agriocnemis femina oryzae

Agriocnemis femina oryzae

Polycanthagyna erythromelas

Polycanthagyna erythromelas

Trithemis aurora

Trithemis aurora

Trithemis aurora - female

Trithemis aurora – female

Brachydiplax chalybea flavovittata

Brachydiplax chalybea flavovittata

Lyriothemis elegantissima

Lyriothemis elegantissima

Pseudothemis zonata

Pseudothemis zonata

Copera ciliata

Copera ciliata

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33 thoughts on “Odonata

  1. Very nice dragon flies. I wonder if the one with the red body is a mal? Usually, at least in the animal world, the males are the most flamboyant. Ith human world it is the other way around unless you think a pin striped suit is the ultimate of male haute couture.

    • Thanks Gerard. Yes males are usually the popinjays but there are a few species where the missus gets to doll herself up and hubby stays at home in his casuals. Our house is a very good example.

  2. A really stunning set Andrew. The compositions, lighting and detail are all superb and the 2 standout ones for me are the rear view of the Trithemis aurora and the flight shot, both unusual and hugely impressive

  3. Shit ! – whoever would’ve imagined there to be so many of ’em !!! – and all beautiful.
    Terrific shots, Andrew !!

  4. Aside from blogging in tandem, it appears we also operate similarly too, Andrew. The fork in our paths is that you can catch ’em on the fly. I have never pulled that off.
    Have or are you replacing the 180? I am considering adding a 400 f/5.6 to my kit for in flight shots.

  5. I love these pictures. To see a dragon fly isn’t tremendously rare on the walks I go on, but it never fails to thrill the heart a little.

  6. If only I had read this a week ago! I took many dragon and damselfly photos over the previous weekend. Your in flight image is very impressive! I tried a DIF and failed spectacularly.

    • The trick is to follow the flight path – they are very repetitive – and use manual focus. Just pre-focus on where you think the DIF will pause, press and pray!!

  7. Cockledemoy Rides the Zonata’s Brazen Car

    ….
    O, may all boys take warning, and be civil;
    Respect their loving sires, eudure a chiding,
    Nor roam by night on dragonflies a-riding!
    ….

    Genus o. Pseudothemis.
    Kirb. Trans. Zool. Soc. Lond. xii. pp 258, 270 (1889)
    l. P. Zonata, Burm. (_Libellula_ Z.) Handb. | China, Japan.
    Ent. ii. p. 859 n. 68 (1839) ; Selys, Ann.
    Soc. Ent. Belg. xxvii. p. 97 (1883) ; Pseud.
    Z., Kirb. l. c. p. 270, t. 52. f. 1 (1889).
    ———————-

    Zonata as a term for identification is favored, too, by entomologists, conchologists, and horticulturists.

    Your photographs of these dragons are favored by all.

  8. Very nice set of shots, Andrew. I particularly like the Pseudothemis zonata. Have you ever tried using a monopod? I always found a tripod rather cumbersome to set up for dragonfly shots, especially if you have to wade out to your subject. A monopod was a good compromise.

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