Mocha Emerald dragonflies

The following photos show couple of Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis) spotted during a photowalk through the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The Mocha Emerald dragonfly has bright green eyes, a hairy brown and green thorax, and a black abdomen. It perches vertically.

Photo 1 of 2 is a copy of the original photograph, cropped to highlight the dragonfly; Photo 2 of 2 is the original photograph. Photo 1 was cropped and sharpened using Apple Aperture, a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos.


The following photo was cropped using Aperture.


I tested an idea recently that worked fairly well: To improve the focus of my iPhone photos of dragonflies, I held a piece of card stock behind the dragonfly (shown above) in order to reduce the depth of field. I must say, the dragonfly was remarkably cooperative! An unexpected consequence: The extraordinary detail that is visible in the photo, especially noticeable in the dragonfly’s wings. One problem I can’t solve easily using an iPhone 3GS camera: Mocha Emerald dragonflies seem to like to perch in shade; iPhone 3GS cameras don’t work well in low light. Two take-aways from my simple experiment: 1) I need to use a bigger piece of card stock; and 2) I need to devise some sort of poor man’s light reflector to illuminate subjects in shadow.

Editor’s Note: These dragonflies were misidentified as American Emeralds. The OdonataCentral checklist for Fairfax County, Virginia USA does not include the American Emerald dragonfly. That doesn’t necessarily mean the dragonflies I spotted aren’t American Emeralds, but it means it’s less likely. Of the two Emerald species included on the OdonataCentral checklist, my spotting more closely resembles a Mocha Emerald (Somatochlora linearis). Mocha Emerald also appears on the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park Dragonflies and Damselflies species list; American Emerald does not. (Huntley Meadows Park is located within walking distance of the “Wildlife Sanctuary.”) [Post last updated on 24 December 2011.]


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