To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before (Part 2)

December 20, 2014

This is the second installment in a three-part series featuring some of my favorite photos of female dragonflies spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014.

The following photos show a Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted on 17 October 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest. This individual is a heteromorph female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (heteromorph female)

Female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies are polymorphic: heteromorphs are duller in color than males; andromorphs are male-like in color.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (heteromorph female)

Both female morphs feature the same distinctive blue eye coloration as males.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (heteromorph female)

Mike Powell, fellow wildlife photographer and blogger, spotted this dragonfly while I was shooting photos of a male Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) perching on thigh-high grasses a few yards away. I joined Mike after my subject flew away.

I don’t recall seeing Mike’s photos of this dragonfly. Perhaps it’s time for another installment of “Two sides to every story.” The ball is in your court, Mike.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before (Part 1)

December 18, 2014

To all the girls I’ve loved before
Who traveled in and out my door
I’m glad they came along
I dedicate this song
To all the girls I’ve loved before

This is the first installment in a three-part series featuring some of my favorite photos of female dragonflies spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014.

The following photo shows an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted on 24 October 2014 near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest. This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

“Oh, it’s just an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly. Very common,” you may be thinking. Well, this may be the best photo of a single Autumn Meadowhawk I’ve ever taken, he said, not too modestly! I like the clarity and color palette. The seed pod on which the dragonfly is perching reminds me of a cornucopia or “horn of plenty” — a perfect prop for autumn!

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Post update: Malformed odonates

December 16, 2014

I discovered another malformed odonate during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 20 October 2014. This individual is a male Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) with a slight bend in its abdomen between S5 and S6. Remember that “S5 and S6″ refers to abdominal Segments 5 and 6 (of 10), numbered from front to back.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, malformed abdomen)

A lot can go wrong when a dragonfly metamorphoses from a larva to an adult. I’m surprised more odonates aren’t malformed, although the ones with fatal flaws probably tend to be uncommon sightings.

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Translucency

December 14, 2014

This is the sixth installment in a series of themed posts featuring photos of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014. All individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

All of the photos were shot in strong backlight from the Sun that makes the dragonflies look translucent, especially noticeable near the face and base of their abdomen. An external flash unit was used to add “fill” light on the camera side of the subject. As always, please view the full-size version of each photo in order to maximize your enjoyment of one of my favorite odonates.

The first two photos were taken near a vernal pool in a relatively remote location in the forest.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

20 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

20 October 2014

The last photo was taken near a vernal pool located close to the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail. I dubbed it the “Accidental Vernal Pool” or “AVP.” The vernal pool was created by accident during the wetland restoration project. The AVP provides another good habitat for amphibians and odonates.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

27 October 2014

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bird’s eye view

December 12, 2014

This is the fifth installment in a series of themed posts featuring photos of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014. All individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Both photos in this set were taken during October near a vernal pool in the forest. As always, please view the full-size version of each photo in order to maximize your enjoyment of one of my favorite odonates.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

09 October 2014

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Battle-scarred Black Saddlebags

December 10, 2014

The following photos show a battle-scarred Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) spotted alongside the boardwalk in the central wetland area hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park on 12 September 2014. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

It is uncommon to see the broad-winged skimmers from the genus Tramea perching. Dragonflies are classified as either “fliers” or “perchers,” based upon their feeding habits. Black Saddlebags are fliers.

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Tramea | Tramea lacerata | Black Saddlebags | male | top view
  • Genus Tramea | Tramea lacerata | Black Saddlebags | male | side view

Editor’s Note: Several photos in this set look similar, although each photo is slightly different from the others. I thought about posting only the three best photos, in my opinion; decided to use the shotgun strategy instead. Which three photos would you choose?

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

All the leaves are brown (Part 2)

December 8, 2014

This is the fourth installment in a series of themed posts featuring photos of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014. All individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

All of the photos were taken during October near a vernal pool in an enchanted forest. Just kidding! Well, the part about the vernal pool is true. As always, please view the full-size version of each photo in order to maximize your enjoyment of one of my favorite odonates.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

The following photo is one of my favorites in this set.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

The seed pods in the next photo remind me of an Asian sculpture. Go figure. And what can I say about the color of this guy’s eyes? Wow!

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

09 October 2014

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

All the leaves are brown (Part 1)

December 6, 2014

This is the third installment in a series of themed posts featuring photos of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014. All individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

All of the photos were taken during October when some leaves had fallen from trees and turned various shades of brown. Please view full-size versions of the following photos in order to fully experience the colorful goodness of autumn.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

09 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

17 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

20 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

20 October 2014

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

First foray into macro photography

December 4, 2014

I visited Huntley Meadows Park on 30 November 2014 for my first foray into macro photography. I field tested a new Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (fitted with a Sto-Fen OM-EW Omni-Bounce, an inexpensive plastic snap-on flash diffuser). The Raynox DCR-250, like other close-up filters and extension tubes, reduces the minimum focusing distance between the lens and subject.

The following photograph of a male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) was taken at maximum telephoto zoom (24x) without using the Raynox close-up filter. The camera was positioned near the mininum focusing distance from the subject, in this case approximately six feet (~6′). The photo was cropped from the original size of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 MP) to a pixel size of 2,690 x 2,016 (5.4 MP), in order to enlarge the subject and improve the photo composition.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 107mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/5.1 | 1/800s

The same dragonfly perched on my pant leg a while later. The next photograph was taken at ~12x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. I estimate the “working distance” between the camera and subject was approximately three-to-six inches (~3-6″). Now that’s what I call a cooperative model! The photo is uncropped from the original size of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels (12 MP) and edited lightly.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/80s

Dragonflies have the finest vision in the insect world. The compound eyes in the largest species have as many as 30,000 simple eyes (ommatidia). Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 281-282). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The next photo shows another male dragonfly perching on the boardwalk. The picture was taken at ~6x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. The working distance was an estimated six-to-10 inches (~6-10″). The photo was cropped to a size of 3,407 x 2,555 pixels (8.7 MP) to refine the photo composition.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

ISO 100 | 27.9mm (~150mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/100s

The last photo shows an unknown species of grasshopper. The picture was taken at ~12x zoom using the Raynox close-up filter. The working distance was an estimated three-to-six inches (~3-6″). The photo was cropped to a size of 3,593 x 2,693 pixels (9.7 MP) to refine the photo composition.

Unknown grasshopper

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/7.1 | 1/160s

The Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter is a relatively inexpensive solution that enables my Panasonic superzoom digital camera to be used for macro photography. Set-up is quick and easy — the filter simply clips on the front of the camera lens using a universal adapter, just like a lens cap. Depth-of-field is very shallow! A cooperative subject, good light, and a lot of patience are essential for success.

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blues and greens

December 2, 2014

This is second installment in a series of themed posts featuring photos of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted while photowalking Huntley Meadows Park during Fall 2014. All individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

All of the photos were taken during early to mid-October when foliage was still mostly green. Please view full-size versions of the following photos in order to fully experience the contrasting green and red colors.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

06 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

09 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

14 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

17 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

17 October 2014

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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