Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair)

Eureka! As a result of either persistence or perseveration, I succeeded in photographing a mating pair of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) while field-testing my new Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera and 55-200mm zoom lens (88-320mm, 35mm equivalent) at Huntley Meadows Park on 15 August 2014.

The pair is shown “in wheel.” All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back: male dragonfly secondary genitalia are located in segments two and three (2 and 3); female genitalia in segment eight (8). Therefore, the male dragonfly is on top; the female is on the bottom.

The male member of this mating pair is a young male. See “Related Resources,” shown below, for links to a three-part series of photoblog posts illustrating color change in male Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies as they mature.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Photo 1. ISO 200; 200mm (320mm, 35mm equivalent); -1 ev; f/8; 1/350s

Notice the fishing spider in the background of the next photo.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Photo 2. ISO 200; 200mm (320mm, 35mm equivalent); -1 ev; f/8; 1/180s

I have never seen a pair of mating Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies hook-up as long as this couple — the same pair perched at three locations! Perhaps young males are more virile than mature males.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

Photo 3. ISO 200; 200mm (320mm, 35mm equivalent); -1 ev; f/8; 1/250s

Related Resources:

Editor’s Notes: The preceding photos were taken using Aperture Priority (f/8). The drive mode was set for continuous shooting (low-speed burst, ~3 fps). A small pop-up flash was connected to the camera and the flash mode was set for forced flash, but flash doesn’t fire in burst mode. The focus mode was set for single autofocus; it would have been better to use continuous autofocus.

If you look closely at the full-size versions of these photos, then you will notice the focus is a little soft. In order to shoot tack-sharp photos using a hand-held camera and 200mm lens (320mm, 35mm equivalent), I would prefer to use a combination of a shutter speed of at least 1/640s with fill flash: this configuration works with my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera (superseded by Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 superzoom camera); it doesn’t work with my new Fujifilm X-T1. Mirror-less digital cameras still require a shutter in order to properly expose larger image sensors such as the APS-C sensor featured in the X-T1. Using the X-T1, flash will synchronize with the shutter at shutter speeds of 1/180s or slower. Needless to say, I need to learn to adapt/adjust to the wonderful world of flash sync speed. Hey Fuji HQ — if you’re reading this, then your engineers need to start working on an external flash unit that features a hi-speed sync mode like my Canon 580EX II Speedlite … STAT!

All of that being said, my credo for wildlife photography is: “Get a shot, any shot; refine the shot.” Although my camera set-up wasn’t ideal, I got the shot when there was an opportunity; regrettably there was no time to refine the shot. Better luck next time, right?

More Related Resources:

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair)”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    I can testify to your credo–you spoke those very words to me last week. Great job getting the shots of this colorful pair. I’m sure that you will adapt your approach to your new gear. It seems like there are advantages and disadvantages to each camera (or other piece of equipment) and the challenge is to develop workarounds for the “features” that in fact are limitations.

  2. Seeing the bigger picture | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair) – 15 August 2014 […]

  3. Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pairs) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair) – 15 August 2014 […]

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