Thursday, July 2, 2009

Photographing Dragonflies

Dragonflies are colorful and interesting insects. They are not too
difficult to photograph. Closeups can be quite compelling due to the
mechanical structures that make up the dragonfly. Their heads consist
mainly of their eyes. Their field of view is close to 360degs, so it
would be impossible to sneak up on one. Not to worry. The dragonfly is
very territorial, and will remain on a particular branch, leave, or
grass for long periods. Even if he flies away briefly, he will
frequently return to the exact same spot.

Dragonflies are found around lakes, streams, rivers, and wetlands. The
larvae of a dragonfly are waterborne. Dragonflies eat ants, mosquitoes,
bees, and other dragonflies. I have found them in greater numbers around
the banks of lakes and ponds, as opposed to the moving water of a stream
or river.

I use a 70-300mm lens on my olympus E330/E510 to photograph dragonflies.
I bump the iso up to 200-400 so that I can get a shutter speed > 250. I
use the auto-focus+manual focus mode and try to be sure the head is in
focus. Pay attention to the background and angle. Some background will
not show the translucent wings very well. In fact, the wings can
sometimes be lost in a busy background. My best shots are of dragonfly
on a branch or grass in the waters edge, at an angle that has the water
a a background. Although I have yet to try it, fill flash could be used
to darken the background.

After a trip to the lake for pictures, I consult different references to
try to identify the particular types of dragonflies I have photographed.
So in addition to some interesting photos, I learn a little more about
the wonderfully complex world around us.