Dragonflies and Damselflies

Aug 16, 2012
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OK thanks very much Alan - I don't need a lot of encouragement! ;-) View attachment 180388
Green Darner. All my in-flight shots are "full manual" - focus, exposure, aperture, and of course hand-held. I find the 300 f4 L with the Canon 5D III provides an almost ideal field of view, and the large focusing ring really helps.

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Nymphs of the Skimmer family (left) and the Darner family (right), under water. Shot with a tripod, through glass after putting them in a little aquarium , using a hand-held flash to provide lighting from the side.
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Just-emerged Meadowhawk, backlit by the full moon (no other lighting). Most dragonfly species emerge at night.

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Dew drops magnifying eye facets and some hairs.

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Male Variegated Meadowhawk - one of the most interestingly-patterned common dragonflies.
Spectacular shots!!!!!
 
Aug 16, 2012
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So with my earlier images I tried to use dual pixel raw micro adjustment to sharpen focus on the eyes of my subjects. I did not find any difference to speak of in this attempt to dual pixel raw sharpen/ stack.

Have any of you tried the dual pixel raw adjustments and do they work for you?Attached image is the one I tried with but no difference as far as I can tell thus no pre and post images. Quite cropped and enlarged to 300% as seen here. Or is this even the situation that DPRAW is designed for? View attachment 180386
I tried dpraw when I first got the 5DIV and couldn't make any difference with it.
 
Aug 16, 2012
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I find that it's possible to anticipate the right moment, following the dragonfly through the lens and slowly moving the focus ring at the same time. Then there will be a few moments when it is in focus. I don't keep the button pressed - after 5-10 continuous shots the dragonfly is often gone / way out of focus, and I find I get more keepers when I take individual shots 0.5 - 1 second apart while continuously tracking and manually adjusting focus. It also depends a lot on the individual dragonfly: even within a species, some will fly slower, hover more often, and/or fly in a more predictable pattern than others. I tend to stick with a single specimen for a long time, waiting for it to return after it passed by (they usually have pretty fixed patrol patterns). Having said that, you're right about the workload! I would say about 1 in a few 100 is a keeper - and that's before throwing out images with busy backgrounds, uninteresting lighting, wings in weird positions, etc. Yours is a lovely shot, even if it's from a slight angle. Here are a few more of mine.

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Great shots resulting from hard work.
 
Jul 26, 2013
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Then there will be a few moments when it is in focus. I don't keep the button pressed - after 5-10 continuous shots the dragonfly is often gone / way out of focus, and I find I get more keepers when I take individual shots 0.5 - 1 second apart while continuously tracking and manually adjusting focus.
That sounds familiar, I tend to use continuous shooting while I think there is a chance the dragonfly is in focus, I adjust focus slowly back and forth around what I think is the right spot while the shutter is rolling. Exposure handled by the camera (Av mode, max open aperture) but exposure compensation might need some attention.. A 128g CF card gives plenty of room for mistakes :cool: 'Safety shift'-function always set to 'ISO' to allow the 5D3 to step down ISO if it hits the shortest possible shutter time 1/8000
I like the Migrant Hawker, I have seen it hover for 10 seconds, less than a meter away from me. Of course I had no camera at that occasion :p
10mm back focus on this one, how could it happen? :cautious:

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by Erik Astrom, on Flickr
 
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Aug 16, 2012
3,927
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That sounds familiar, I tend to use continuous shooting while I think there is a chance the dragonfly is in focus, I adjust focus slowly back and forth around what I think is the right spot while the shutter is rolling. Exposure handled by the camera but exposure compensation might need some attention.. A 128g CF card gives plenty of room for mistakes :cool:
I like the Migrant Hawker, I have seen it hover 10 seconds, less than a meter away from me. Of course I had no camera at that occasion :p
10mm back focus on this one, how could it happen? :cautious:

F36A2429_DxO_full
by Erik Astrom, on Flickr
Interesting technique you and Pieter have - I have used just AF.
 
Jul 13, 2014
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That sounds familiar, I tend to use continuous shooting while I think there is a chance the dragonfly is in focus, I adjust focus slowly back and forth around what I think is the right spot while the shutter is rolling. Exposure handled by the camera (Av mode, max open aperture) but exposure compensation might need some attention.. A 128g CF card gives plenty of room for mistakes :cool: 'Safety shift'-function always set to 'ISO' to allow the 5D3 to step down ISO if it hits the shortest possible shutter time 1/8000
I like the Migrant Hawker, I have seen it hover 10 seconds, less than a meter away from me. Of course I had no camera at that occasion :p
10mm back focus on this one, how could it happen? :cautious:

by Erik Astrom, on Flickr
Yes - I also like to slowly vary the focus on a hovering dragonfly. As far as exposure settings go, I tend to use full manual or auto ISO, with the exposure time set to 1/1000 or 1/1600 (to prevent motion blur in the body and to half-freeze the wings) and the aperture somewhere in the range f8 - f11 (to have a larger fraction of the dragonfly in focus). I found the same metering problem as you note; usually the background is lit very differently from the dragonflies, and changes while you're panning, and then exposures tend to be off. Usually the dragonflies themselves are pretty uniformly lit (as you shoot them always at about the same distance and roughly in the same direction), so once I figure out when the dragonfly has the right exposure (through trial and error) I freeze everything (iso, exposure, and aperture) for the rest of the shots and just worry about framing and focus.
 
Jul 26, 2013
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.. usually the background is lit very differently from the dragonflies, and changes while you're panning, and then exposures tend to be off. Usually the dragonflies themselves are pretty uniformly lit (as you shoot them always at about the same distance and roughly in the same direction)...
You have a point there ;) EF100-400 with 1.4x TC starts at f/8 so I'm there most of the time
AF is a good choice when the background happen to be smooth (a blu sky for example) otherwise my camera has very odd opinion where to focus :p

No luck today, all in-flight photos were disasters
But at least I got a decent picture of the rare Halloween Darter :p

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by Erik Astrom, on Flickr

The standard Ruddy Darter, this one looks a bit tired?

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by Erik Astrom, on Flickr

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by Erik Astrom, on Flickr
 
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Jun 7, 2014
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I cannot keep pace with you guys. This does not depend on my Equipment. Most of my dragonfly-photos are made incidentally on holiday (here for instance: Tauernteich ). Dragonflies are rather seldom to find in our Area (Frankfurt am Main). So I have to look for more opportunities to find these animals and be better prepared - more time, tripod, exercise.
 
Aug 16, 2012
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Thanks for all your kind comments Andy.
There are very few dragonflies where I am at the moment. I go for walks along streams and near lakes and occasionally see one. I don't know about the others but I never use a tripod - could be useful for focus stacking, I suppose. Things will be better next late spring and early summer.
Alan
 
Likes: Berowne