Stalking a Dragonfly

Seeing a dragonfly on a tree, I wondered if it would stay long enough to photograph it. I ran inside for a camera and telephoto lens. The dragonfly was still there. I approached slowly, taking photos along the way, in case the dragonfly flew away.

Above is my first good photo, the dragonfly seen through a wing as a veil.  The dragonfly did fly away several times, and it returned to different spots on the same branch. I thought I saw it moving its mouth after it landed, so perhaps the dragonfly was catching flying bugs.

To illustrate the stalking, here’s my initial photo, taken as I returned with the camera.

first dragonfly photo

Looking at the image on the camera back, the dragonfly is in focus, but the leaves in the background are are brightly lit, distracting from the subject. I increased the aperture by a stop to better blur the background, and I moved closer to get a plainer background behind the dragonfly. I approached the dragonfly from the rear and below. Sitting on the ground, I tried to be inconspicuous as I pointed a long telephoto lens at the dragonfly and clicked away.

With the sky as a simple, blue background, I reduced the aperture to f/8 so more of the dragonfly is in focus.

dragonfly seen through a veil

Moving forward, the dragonfly’s body is about the same distance from the camera, so much of the dragonfly in focus. The dragonfly flew off and landed closer to the branch tip.

even closer to the branch tip, foreleg extended

I finally captured the face of the dragonfly. It’s a flame skimmer dragonfly, like I photographed last summer. Now that I’m much closer, the leaves in the background are blurred, and the viewer’s attention is focused on the dragonfly.

flame skimmer dragonfly, libellula saturata

Approaching slowly seemed to work well. All photos were shot at 400 mm.


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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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