“Post Focus” images: Shadow Darner dragonfly

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) larva/nymph. This blog post features two focus-stacked composite images of a beautifully preserved specimen of the adult that emerged from the larva.

Each composite image was created from 30 TIF files extracted from a one-second MP4 video of the subject, “photographed” using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and “indented” hind wings (shown above). All male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers”: the two cerci are missing (they broke off the terminal end of the abdomen during shipping); the epiproct is intact.

Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) | dorsal-lateral view


Perhaps the biggest takeaway from on-going experimentation with Panasonic “Post Focus” is that the process continues to impress — it works quickly (typically one second or so) and works well, using lightweight, inexpensive equipment for making composite images of acceptable quality.

What’s not to like? The obvious answer: The image quality isn’t as high as comparable images created using HEAVY and EXPENSIVE camera gear in the controlled environment of a photo studio. On the other hand, I know from experience I’m unlikely to lug all of that gear into the field. I call it a BIG WIN to have found a relatively lightweight, inexpensive camera kit that does essentially the same job almost as well!

The next test: Use adult dragonflies in the wild as the subject. Regrettably, that will have to wait until the first odonates begin emerging during early spring.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the “photos” for creation of the composite images, shown above: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus“; and two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite images, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to ““Post Focus” images: Shadow Darner dragonfly”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Thanks for sharing your results, Walter. I was especially drawn to your conclusions. I think that each of us has a point at which we are comfortable balancing issues like quality, portability, and cost, and I suspect that point varies from person to person. What is acceptable? What is optimal? Most of us who photograph outdoors know that there will always be factors that we cannot control and we learn to be content with something less than “perfection.” Still, I think that we all strive, to borrow the words of the preamble of the Constitution, for a “more perfect” result and the FZ300 seems to offer some interesting prospects. Bring on the live dragonflies!

    • waltersanford Says:

      The composite images are a little grainy/noisy. I own many external flash units but only two smallish LED light panels. “Post Focus” is a video mode, so I can’t use flash — had to use the LEDs. Also had the camera set for Auto ISO with a limit of 400. Because the scene was somewhat underexposed, the camera used ISO 400. And there you have a recipe for graininess/noise. I know from experience this won’t be a problem in direct sunlight.

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