Study in Form: Spotted Spreadwing

In the warmer months, I do devote a good amount of my time to photographing Odonates here in New Jersey.  Odonata is the order of carnivorous flying insects including dragonflies and the more slender damselflies.  They come in a great deal of shapes and dazzling colors, making for eye-catching images.  A straightforward but uncluttered capture of a dragonfly or damselfly can have great impact, but occasionally a person may be lucky enough to image their aerial acrobatics or land contortions.

 Lestes congener

A lucky photo of a Spotted Spreadwing damselfly in a greatly flexed position.

A distant background, clear foreground, and attractive perch set the stage for a very minimalistic frame.  The damselfly obliges by pausing for a moment in the shape of the letter “n”.  Looks like it may be ovipositing (attaching eggs)?

Photo taken with the Canon EOS 50D DSLR and the Tamron SP 90mm VC macro lens.  Handheld photo taken at 1/80 F/5 ISO 200.

Rethink the most obvious shooting angle: Green-striped Darners

Photos taken yesterday in Sussex County, New Jersey.  I was actually trying to take a macro shot of a caterpillar in the shade (quite frustrating) when I saw these two large dragonflies in the mating wheel position fly near me and land.  I approached slowly with macro lens in hand and got very lucky that they were not startled off.  Haven photographed insects quite a bit the past few years, it’s only natural to look to capture them both together in the same frame without having any of their appendages extend beyond the frame.

Shot #1:

macro odonata photo

A few of a male and female darner in a typical reproductive pose. Photo taken in Sussex County, New Jersey with the Tamron SP 90mm VC F/2.8 Macro Lens and the Canon EOS 60D DSLR.

Metadata: 90mm, 1/640th F/3.2 ISO 100, handheld with VC.  Manual Exposure.

I NEARLY walked away haven taken a pretty sharp frame, but I thought “what the heck” why not try a true macro photo with high magnification on one dragon’s face.  It took 1 or dozen frames to get a handheld shot in focus at that magnification, but to me it created a photo with a much higher “wow” factor.

Photo #2:

macro odonata face photo

An intimate view of a Green-striped Darner showcasing vivid lateral coloration. Photographed with the Tamron SP 90mm VC Macro Lens + Canon EOS 60D in NJ.

Metadata: 90mm, 1/100 F/5.0 ISO 100, handheld with VC.  Manual Exposure.

It is certainly subjective to which shot is “better”, but the 2nd is more to my liking.  By rethinking about possible compositions I have 2 drastically different photos of the same subject taken a minute or two apart.  Quality nature photography is seldom performed in a hurry.  I have always been an advocate of the phrase “haste makes waste”.