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My friend the dragonfly, wait this is not a children story or novel or anything like that. This is a simple photographic project amongst the hundreds of projects that anyone with a camera, some skills and the willingness to learn can undertake.
I have been fascinated with dragonflies for as long as I can remember and have photographed them many times during the years, but they still intrigue me and I continue to photograph them whenever I can. The better I got with my photography, the better their photographs became, even experimenting with macro albeit on dead specimens.
Mind you, I rarely will kill anything, but dragonflies like many insects don't have a long life span and dead specimens are rather easy to find if you know where to look.
However, if you must use dead specimens and intent on collecting your own live specimens, a jar or coffee can with a lid and an alcohol or ammonia laden cotton puff will work fine. Make sure that you place a screen between the cotton puff and the insect, otherwise the chemicals may damage it.
Here is more in depth detailed information about dragonflies, their habits and other useful facts which can prove valuable when conducting your scouting for subjects.
"A dragonfly is a winged insect belonging to the order Odonata, the suborder Epiprocta or, in the strict sense, the infraorder Anisoptera (from Greek ανισος anisos, "uneven" + πτερος pteros, "wings", due the hindwing being broader than the forewing). It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are similar to damselflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Dragonflies possess six legs (like any other insect), but most of them cannot walk well. Dragonflies are some of the fastest insects in the world.
Dragonflies are valuable predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, wasps, and very rarely butterflies. They are usually found around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic." Wikipedia
OK, now that you know how useful dragonflies can be in ridding us of those very annoying mosquitoes, you can start the project with hopefully a bit more respect for this very useful and photogenic member of the insect world.
Your main intention will be to record images that show the dragonfly in its entirety yet done in a close up mode. Like many insects and most wildlife, they are not going to sit there and pose just for you. You need to do some research into their habits, environment, and other behaviors if you are to better your odds of capturing good images.
Most dragonflies will rarely venture too far from a body of fresh water since it is here where they must lay their eggs for their aquatic larvae to grow and metamorphose into a flying insect and where most of their prey is found. Like most insects the best times to catch them while they are rather less inclined to take flight is in the early morning hours while the air ambient temperature is rather on the cool side.
They will usually choose a solitary stick above most other vegetation and perch as they soak in the Sun rays and warm up. Use this time to go in close and record images of the details in their wings, their elongated body and not to miss are their eyes that produce very fascinating iridescence highlights and these images when done in a close up are quite interesting besides being very "eye appealing".
Locate a body of water, preferably a lake or pond, then locate some tall grasses where they are likely to perch on, usually near the shore or you can place several sticks that come out of the water about one to three feet and pre focus on them.
Sooner or later they are bound to seek a vantage point from where to scan their territory and tall grasses or sticks offer them the perfect place. You will have to be very patient as it may hours before they pick the "right" perch. A long lens that sets you some distance away will definitely help in putting them at ease.
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18 Tips for Photographing Dragonflies and Damselflies teaches you how to photograph Dragonflies and Damselflies in their natural habitat without distubing them and to get great results just by adopting our simple techniques on Dragonfly and Damselfly
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez