Mochas gracias, amigos!

The following photographs show several male Mocha Emerald dragonflies (Somatochlora linearis) spotted along a small stream that flows through the forest at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park. Mochas were my constant companions as I explored the habitat in search of more uncommon species of dragonflies, such as the Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly I discovered on 07 July 2014.

It’s challenging to photograph perching Mochas Emeralds because they prefer shady spots; it’s more challenging to shoot them in flight. Mocha Emerald dragonflies patrol back-and-forth along the center of a stream, pausing to hover in place at times — be prepared to go for it when they hover nearby. Properly exposed photographs are practically impossible to capture: graininess is inevitable using relatively low ISOs and faster shutter speeds; a flash-equipped camera is essential.

All of the photos were shot using the following camera settings: RAW+JPEG; Auto exposure; Auto ISO, Limit Set (400); Auto white balance; Shutter priority; Flash On, Fired; Spot metering; AF Mode (1-area-focusing). Select EXIF information appears in the caption for each photo.

The first two photos were shot on 17 July 2014.

Mocha Emerald dragonfly (male, in flight)

ISO 400; 1/1000s; f/5.2; 108mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent)

Mocha Emerald dragonfly (male, in flight)

ISO 400; 1/1000s; f/5.2; 108mm (600mm, 35mm equivalent)

The last two photos were taken on 22 July 2014.

Mocha Emerald dragonfly (male, in flight)

ISO 400; 1/1000s; f/4.1; 57.2mm (318mm, 35mm equivalent)

Mocha Emerald dragonfly (male, in flight)

ISO 400; 1/1000s; f/4.1; 57.2mm (318mm, 35mm equivalent)

I prefer a shutter speed of 1/1,300s for stop-action photography of dragonflies in flight, although that shutter speed is a little too fast for low-light conditions and a little too slow to stop wing motion completely. See Dragonflies in Flight, a slideshow featuring 68 still photographs by Walter Sanford. (Hey, that’s me!)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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One Response to “Mochas gracias, amigos!”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Love the title (my kind of humor) and your amazing shots of a really challenging subject. Shooting such a small moving subject in low light is almost impossible, but you were able to pull it off. Kudos to your persistence and technical expertise with your camera.

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