I recently had the opportunity to photograph some dragonflies at the RBG (Royal Botanical Gardens) that were frequenting one of the ponds. The breeze was a bit calmer than it has been in the past so I decided to try my hand at some Handheld Hi Res images, as well as capturing some dragonflies in flight.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
This particular pond at the RBG is designed as a more natural setting and at certain times of year can attract a good number of dragonflies.
The pond has a lot of natural vegetation around much of its perimeter which makes finding a decent shooting angle a tricky proposition. On the positive side, having a more natural setting helps put the subject dragonflies in good environmental context.
On one occasion while waiting for a dragonfly to take flight, another one flew into the scene and I was able to capture both insects in focus.
I kept moving around the pond looking for dragonflies that were exhibiting habitual flying behaviours. I adjusted my technique a few times when I observed individual dragonflies launching from their perch, then immediately returning to it. This allowed me to get some good image runs of dragonflies coming in to land.
To facilitate this type of photograph I used a single AF point and began recording images in temporary memory using Pro Capture H as the dragonfly was in a perched position.
After it took flight I continued to record images in temporary memory even though there was no dragonfly in the frame. Then, when the dragonfly returned and landed I would fully depress my shutter release to capture the insect’s return flight and landing. This continual spooling technique helped ensure that the dragonfly would be in focus when it landed.
Dragonflies come in to land at a much slower speed than when taking flight, so a Pro Capture H run typically yields a higher number of useable frames from landing behaviour.
The next five images are from the same Pro Capture H run of a dragonfly coming in to land.
Since the E-M1X’s electronic shutter is employed when using Pro Capture, subjects in flight can sometimes show some rolling shutter effect. This can render some photographs unusable.
My schedule was tight on the day that I visited, and I was only able to spend a little over an hour photographing dragonflies at the RBG. Given my abbreviated visit I was pleased with the resulting images.
The next five images constitute of the best series of a dragonfly taking flight that I was able to capture that morning.
When the opportunities arose I did switch things up and attempted to capture HHHR (Handheld Hi Res) images of perched dragonflies. I was able to capture a few decent HHHR photographs.
If it would have been a dead still environment my HHHR attempts would have been better. In spite of that, it was still an enjoyable experience.
As you review the EXIF data on some of my HHHR images you’ll notice that I occasionally used somewhat slower shutter speeds (eg. 1/250) given the overall focal length used, and the multiple image combining nature of the HHHR function. I typically use a range of shutter speeds from an experimentation standpoint.
As is the case with many bird, mammal, reptile and insect subjects it is important to spend some time studying their movements and habitual behaviours. This helps identify potential photographic opportunities.
Our final dragonflies at the RBG photograph featured in this article also includes a 100% crop. As regular readers know I’m not a pixel peeper by nature but I do appreciate that some folks have an interest in seeing 100% crops.
Dragonflies can be extremely difficult to capture in free flight. Studying the movements of individual dragonflies can help a photographer determine their game plan to capture some images of them in flight.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All Pro Capture H photographs were captured using my standard settings for this mode: 60 frames-per-second, single AF point, Pre-Shutter Frames and Frame Limited both set to 15. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard approach in post. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,188 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
How you can help keep this site advertising free
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated.
If you click on the Donate button below you will find that there are three donation options: $7.50, $10.00 and $20.00. All are in Canadian funds. Plus, you can choose a different amount if you want. You can also increase your donation amount to help offset our costs associated with accepting your donation through PayPal. An ongoing, monthly contribution to support our work can also be done through the PayPal Donate button below.
You can make your donation through your PayPal account, or by using a number of credit card options.
Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.
Article and images are Copyright 2022 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!