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Learn the key skills required to photograph damselflies and dragonflies
Tags:andy langley,animal photography,go wild tv,how to photograph dragonflies,how to photograph insects,mark hamblin,photography tutorials,wildlife photography
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150,000,000 years before the Dinosaurs, a ferocious predator was already on the earth, our modern Dragonflies, and then smaller than that pre-start relatives haven’t really changed at all. And then we tend to know them as the winged insect, most of their life is actually spent on the water. This underwater nymph is just superbly equipped killing machine. It breeds to its optimum which also provides a means of jet propulsion when required. The head is surrounded by huge (--) that can be shot out within the blink of an eye to catch a prey. After some time or years in the water the adult dragonfly will finally emerge. It is one of the most fascinating sights in nature because dragonflies do not pupate; they go straight from the aquatic stage to the winged (--). There are many different species but then dragonfly is often used to revert to both the larger true dragonflies as well as the smaller damselflies which are more like flying colored matchsticks. This pre-historic predator makes an ideal subject for creative photography. I’ve come down this morning to one of my favorite sites for dragonflies and damselflies, doubtly here this afternoon and have quite a few on the wing in the sunshine, so I’ve come down very early this morning to see if I can find a few specimen roosting in amongst the reeds and grasses. Damselflies and Dragonflies want to fly until the air temperature is around 13 or 14 degrees, for the morning light ray is overcast, they’ll be resting for quite sometime brought while in some mid morning. The first thing to do of course is to find a good individual for photography and looking for one that’s fairly high up on the stem which will give me a nice, clean background and they’ll be perfect for the kind of image that I’m looking for this morning. The best lens to use for this sole a photography is a specialized macro lens which can be anything from the 50mm all the way up to 200mm, and the benefit props of the longer focal lens macro and the one ‘m using here is 180mm is the fact that the working distance can be greater which allows you to fill the frame with the Damselfly without the need to get too close with the possibility of course of disturbing it. In terms of focusing for this sort of image I’ll always use manual focus rather than autofocus, and the reason for that is that it gives you far better control or precision over the focusing point and also with autofocus, prey off from the lens may hunt from the insect to the background which can be really annoying, so manual focus generally is best and that allows you to crisp up really sharply on the insect’s head and make sure that everything can pinch you up. Took on idea to pick a fairly still morning for the sober photography, but even sizes often to the slight breeze, so a handheld device to have in the kitbag is this weird contraption which is called the plump, this will attach to tripod and we let this is a stabilizing device and for the stem which the Damselfly is attached to, so I’m just going to attach this just below the insect itself and that’s pretty much rock steady now so that’s going to be the idea for getting some really stable pictures and even shooting it fairly slow shoot to speeds and that work really well. For the few technical considerations to think about for this sort of photography, and first off is the kind of position itself which needs to be roughly parallel to the Damselfly so that you’ve got good focus from heads right down to the tip of the tail, and then in terms of exposure, it’s a little bit of a compromise very often between getting good depth of field and good shot image of the Damselfly itself and also keeping a nice diffused background. So generally our props are for an aperture of around f8-f11, even possibly f16, and what I intend to do is to use the depth of field preview button on the camera, which should then give me a clear indication of a how shot the insect does itself and also how the background is looking. Alternatively, if you don’t have a depth of field preview button on your camera, then of course you can use the LCD display on the back of the camera and that will give you a visual on how the background is looking. It’s been a little bit slow this morning but I’m not too worried, it’s early in the season for Damselflies and Dragonflies and this is a good site and once you find a good sight like this, it’s worth well coming back during the course of the summer, even into early autumn as species will emerge at different times of the year; so I’ll definitely be back here in a week’s time or so and see if I can find some different species to photograph.