Here be dragons

The hot, sunny weather has the dragonflies and damselflies dancing, skimming, hovering, and winging their way around the pond.  I went out on Wednesday afternoon to see what I could capture.  Dragonflies (and damselflies) are cold blooded creatures and as a result, they seek the sunny, warm spots.  A hot, sunny day is guaranteed to bring me a decent shot or two of the dragonflies.

Capturing a dragonfly (with your camera, that is) requires the abilities to be patient, be aware, and be still.

As previously mentioned, they like hot and sunny days so that’s a good place to start.  Water (a pond or lake) helps, but is not necessarily required as I find them in the woods and in the meadows.  However, there is water nearby and I suppose (I’m not sure) that helps.  On those sunny, hot days, the dragonfly sometimes has to cool itself.  It does this by moving into the shade, changing its body position, or becoming less active.  It’s the less active part that helps in capturing one with your camera.   (By the way, some dragonflies change their wing position, holding them down, to deflect the sunlight when trying to cool themselves.)

If you take the time to watch the dragonflies, you’ll notice that they fly in patterns, landing on the same spot time after time.  Some male dragonflies are territorial, chasing off other males.  They will defend their territory for a few hours or a day, but usually not for much longer.

Once you’ve figured out where the dragonfly has decided it wants to sit and rest (usually a twig of some sort), all you have to do is stand and wait.  Even if you frightened it off while you were observing and getting in position, it may still come back.  You just have to wait and see, usually not more than a few minutes.  Make sure you’re ready to snap that first photo because any movement right after it lands is likely to send it flying again.  Go ahead and focus on the twig in the spot where you last saw the dragonfly.  Not only do they usually return to the same twig, they usually return to the same spot on the twig.

I took a few photos of this guy because this type of dragonfly gives me the most trouble when it comes to capturing one. It’s the largest type we have living, loving, and flying around our pond. The larger the dragonfly, the harder it seems to be to capture.

Once a dragonfly lands within your range, and you’ve gotten that first photo, I’ve found that moving very slowly is allowed by the dragonfly so that you can get a little closer (this is necessary for me since I’m using a point and shoot camera and my zoom range is limited, but you may not need to get any closer).  Often the dragonfly will sit and pose until I can’t stand there any longer and need to move.  They are quite cooperative as long as there are no sudden moves on my part.  I generally end up leaving before they do.

Processed and altered in Photoshop

And that’s all there is to it.  Be aware, be patient, be still.

Thanks for stopping by today.  This is a scheduled post.  I’m out east somewhere, probably recovering from a bike ride in what looks like an interesting spot with a mile-long railway tunnel and a short hike to a waterfall.  I’m sure I’ll tell you all about it when I return.  Or earlier if I’m so inclined and happen to have an internet connection. I hope all is well with you and yours.  If you do go out to capture a dragonfly (with your camera!), let me know.  I’d love to see your results.


31 Comments on “Here be dragons”

  1. Sallyann says:

    Wow, these are wonderful, my close up pictures are still a bit hit and miss with my point and shoot.
    Hope you’re enjoying your waterfall. 🙂

  2. Gilraen says:

    How lovely. A friend of mine is a bit of a dragonfly geek. I am sure he would be most impressed with these photos

  3. Nice tutorial…would also apply to hummingbirds.
    Neither of which I have any good shots of 😉

  4. jane tims says:

    Hi. My favorite is the blue dragonfly with the black netting in his wings. Beautiful post!!! Jane

  5. Karma says:

    Thank you for the dragonfly tips! It is evident from your photos that you’ve spent plenty of time observing these unique creatures. I’ve been lucky enough to snag a few shots of them in my yard, but I’d really love to get a picture of some of the really large ones I often see while out on a walk. They seem to be in constant motion and look like mini-helicopters in the air.
    I’m really looking forward to checking out your photo hunt post, but this slacker-blogger hasn’t even completed her own hunt yet! As soon as I do, I will be back. Enjoy your travels!

  6. Ellen says:

    beautiful pictures!!! I`ll have to wait till summer to see them fly again ….

  7. Christine Grote says:

    Thanks for the tips. I didn’t know.

  8. Kathy says:

    I love dragonflies. Magical… You captured them stunningly.

  9. Coming East says:

    I did not know that about dragon flies. I’m going to keep my eye out for them. Beautiful photos, Robin.

  10. Anita Mac says:

    Very cool insight into the dragon flies. I have wanted to catch them in photos, but seeing as I usually see them while out kayaking, I have yet to to so! I just can’t lean far enough forward in my kayak!!! Oh well – they make for great companions, floating around the water and my boat!

  11. […] Here be dragons ( […]

  12. Dana says:

    I’ve always loved your dragonfly pictures, Robin. (Those, and the praying mantis shots!) I hope your trip is going well.

  13. Fantastic dragonfly photos – the ones in my garden are mostly beige and black (to blend into the trees, I think) so it is nice to see such colorful creatures. I always think of dragonflies as “fairy steeds” 🙂

  14. These are wonderful photos of dragonflies–you can even see their lacy wings! I am too cheap to buy a macro lens for my dslr, but my new pocketable camera Canon S100 does.

  15. A wonderful title for your post ….

  16. Joanne says:

    I’ll remember your advise when summer arrives Robin. We get a lot of dragonflies around our swimming pool. 🙂

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