Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

July 12, 2009

Dragonfly in flight

Filed under: behavior, Dragonfly, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, Non Birds, technique — richditch @ 7:49 pm
Dragonfly in flight

Dragonfly in flight

This is my first attempt at photographing a dragonfly in flight, and it came out better than I expected it would. But it is a long way from the quality of shots I’ve seen from other people, so I’ll have to spend more time in the field trying to do better.

I’d thought this would be nearly impossible the first time I saw such an image posted on the web, but I eventually realized that some species of dragonflies will hover almost completely stationary in a spot as they hunt for prey. So, I’ve been watching for it to happen when I’m out somewhere, like the Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ, where this was taken.

Like any other photo, it helps if you pay attention to the details at the time of shooting. Here I was careful to line up the camera with a good background: a nice graduated color with no distracting details. I also wanted the background darker than the dragonfly so it would show better, especially the transparent wings.

I’ve used the angel of the light to create a rim of light to help separate the subject from the background and to emphasize the transparent wings.

Exposure was 1/200th second at f/5.6 with an ISO setting of 200: obviously this dragonfly was holding position rather well for such a modest shutter speed.

I kept my D200 on aperture priority for this – that’s the way I shoot almost all my birds and other subjects. But the next ti me I do this I’ll probably set the camera on full manual so I have a consistent exposure and don’t have to worry about changes as te dragonfly moves around.



  1. Nice one! Better than my only decent result. The Water Ranch in Gilbert is perfect for dragonfly shooting this time of the year!

    Comment by AZ Writer (Kimberly Hosey) — July 13, 2009 @ 11:13 am

  2. wow, this is awesome. need to try this. will use your recommended setting and see how it turns out. it’s dragonfly hunting now šŸ˜€

    Comment by alvarine — July 16, 2009 @ 9:32 pm

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