Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) mate quickly.
Copulation brief (averages 20 sec) and aerial, may be followed by resting period. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 10228). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Last fall, I was a man on a mission to photograph this fleeting event.
What I saw.
In my experience, some species of dragonflies are creatures of habit that return to the same location day-after-day. I noticed a couple of adult male Eastern Pondhawks that returned to two nearby spots alongside the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park for several weeks. Both males successfully hooked up with females on average two- to three times a day. I “camped out” near one male or the other — sometimes for hours a day — and waited for an opportunity to get a shot of a mating pair in wheel. I followed the exploits of the dynamic duo until they disappeared a few weeks after I spotted them for the first time.
The female, shown below, rested for a while at the same spot where she had mated.
What I didn’t see/what you don’t see (in the preceding photo).
I was so focused on the mating pair of dragonflies that I never noticed the fishing spider, possibly a Six-spotted Fishing Spider (Dolomedes triton), lurking in the lower-left corner of the photo! The spider is probably the same individual featured in a recent post (see “Spider exoskeleton“). If I had seen the spider, then I would have composed the photograph without “clipping” one of its legs.
So what’s the take-away from this pleasant “post-processing surprise?” It’s important — although admittedly challenging when shooting dynamic subjects — to try to see the bigger picture when looking through the viewfinder of a camera.
Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.