This article shares some images of joined dragonflies in flight. These photographs were captured handheld at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington Ontario.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
You will notice that I included a run of 15 consecutive photographs from a Pro Capture H run. These photographs are included to help demonstrate how subtle differences in body position, as well as the relative position of foreground elements, can affect a composition.
When photographing insects in motion I always use Pro Capture H to help ensure that I capture some usable images.
If you’re like me, you’ve likely seen some dragonflies joined together in flight and assumed that they were mating. This is not entirely accurate.
To mate, the male dragonfly uses claspers at the end of his abdomen to grab the female by the back of her neck.
The male’s claspers are designed to fit species specific grooves in the female. At this point the joined dragonflies can fly around together for hours.
If the female dragonfly is sexually receptive she will lift her abdomen up, curling it against the underside of the main part of the male’s body.
In this manner the joined dragonflies form a heart-shaped wheel. This allows the male to pass his sperm into the female.
The heart-shaped coupling of the joined dragonflies can last for a minute, or up to several hours.
If the joined dragonflies remain in the heart-shaped configuration for extended periods of time, it is often due to the male trying to use spoon-like structures on his penis to scoop out any sperm deposited by other males.
After copulation the male may release its mate, with both dragonflies flying away. Some males are very territorial and may follow their mate around to protect her from other males while she lays her eggs in water.
In some species, the joined dragonflies may remain together for the entire egg laying process. You may notice that in many of the photographs in this article, the female dragonfly’s tail is immersed in water. She could very well be laying her eggs.
After eggs have been laid, dragonflies may repeat the process and reproduce a few more times before they die a month or so later.
When photographing dragonflies it can be helpful to sit on a short, portable stool. This helps to get a lower photo shooting angle, and a more appealing view, of the dragonflies.
I used my standard Pro Capture H settings for the photographs in this article. Pre-Shutter and Frame Limiter were both set to 15, with my frame rate set at 60.
The 15 photographs in the entire Pro Capture H image run featured in this article were captured in a total of 1/4 of a second.
The M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 iS zoom is a fantastic lens to use for insect photography.
With a minimum focusing distance of only 1.3 metres (~4 feet) throughout its focal length range, the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS is a wonderfully versatile lens.
When used with the MC-14 or MC-20 teleconverters the M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 provides great reach, with a short minimum focusing distance, all in a relatively small and comparatively lightweight package. This is ideal for photographers, like me, who prefer to shoot handheld.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. This is the 1,043rd article published on this website since its original inception.
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