Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shooting Dragonflies with Steve B

It’s been a long time since I took you out shooting with me. I had a day off last Friday and went out looking for some dragonflies. Now that fall coming on, the variety of dragons is falling off. The area that I visited had several thousand Meadowhawks. As I have stated in earlier posts, we have three indiscernible species of red Meadowhawks, hence I just call them "Meadowhawks".

When I shoot dragons, I use a 70-300mm lens, typically at 300mm. I have a 5 foot minimum distance that I can focus on. This is not the perfect setup but you have to use the gear that you have. I can focus closer with my 18-200mm lens however I would have to be right in the dragonfly's face to get the compositions that I get with the 70-300. Plus, I like to have the background totally out of focus, and the former does a better job.

There are some compromises in using a zoom lens for close-up shots. With a zoom, you sacrifice resolution, the ability to discern tiny features at a distance. In lens design resolution is sacrificed for variability of focal length. A fixed focal lens would do a much better job however I’ve developed a style that works with this lens. These videos, for better or worse, show you how I think in the field and hopefully will give you some ideas that you can use.

Note: All of the photos in this post are full frame and have not been cropped, except for the last one.

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This is a basic dragonfly shot. The background is a little distracting, perhaps cropping would help this shot. It does make a good photo to talk about as I’m setting up the shot and talking about it.

Same for this shot, it is a little too busy. I’ve included it as an illustration showing how I was setting up the shot.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

The importance of this shot in the video is in how the background was selected. In the video, you see the overall background and hear how I got the background that you see here.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

This is my cooperative lady dragonfly. In the video, you will see how looking around the subject you can create interesting shots that will make the subject pop. Here I use goldenrod sprays in the background to give some color interest.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Changing the viewpoint of the camera allow you to change the background.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Using the techniques in the video you can get results like these next four photos.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

My closing shot was not discussed in the video. Here we have a dragonfly in the foreground in full sunlight. The background was made by lining up the deep shadows in the forest. I used spot metering to get the dragon properly exposed. To learn about metering, visit my post about photographing Common Eiders.
©2009 ShootingMyUniverse

Need more tips? Be sure to look at my other helpful hints.

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Eve said...

This is a great tutorial Steve! Thanks! Nice work.

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful shots of the dragonflies. You must have a lot of patience. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Really good and useful tips there Steve - Thanks

Dawn Fine said...

great tutorials steve! Enjoyed the video..tee hee..dragon fly landing on your video cam.
Great shots!
Takes allot of work to get those shots!

Kelly said...

Steve...that was pretty cool. I enjoyed the videos...and the shots are so beautiful. I always like when you do your videos.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

A fantastic post Steve. Thanks for sharing all this with us.

Carolina said...

Thanks for all those tips! Great shots.

Unknown said...

Nice post full of useful tips.

Chris said...

Truly excellent post and the film are really good! Thanks Steve.

FAB said...

Thank you 'Teacher' Steve. Excellent tips & tricks. FAB

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