Seeing the bigger picture

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 two- to three times a day, on average. 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.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

10 September 2014 | Mating pair (in wheel)

The female, shown below, rested a while after she mated (above).

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (female, resting after copulation)

10 September 2014 | Female member, mating pair

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.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (female, resting after copulation)

10 September 2014 | Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (female)/fishing spider

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.

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Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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5 Responses to “Seeing the bigger picture”

  1. Victor Rakmil Says:

    Well put, well illustrated. Great post.

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

    […] I mentioned in a recent post (see “Seeing the bigger picture“), I was a man on a mission to photograph mating pairs of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies […]

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

    […] Seeing the bigger picture – 10 September 2014 […]

  4. “X” marks the spot for love! | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Seeing the bigger picture – 10 September 2014 […]

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