Archive for the ‘dragonflies’ Category

The other side of “What is it?”

January 21, 2019

The following photograph shows the wooden side of a dragonfly rubber stamp.

The Backstory

On 26 December 2017, I published a blog post entitled “What is it?” I was testing my new Fujinon XF80mm macro lens used in combination with a Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube and needed a small subject to photograph. I was also testing my new Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite used in manual mode with my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera.

In this case, I was testing — actually retesting — my new Fujifilm MCEX-16 extension tube. The last time I tested the 16mm extension tube, I used it in combination with an 11mm extension tube. Bottom line, I wasn’t happy with the results. So I decided to test the 16mm tube by itself, decrease the f-stop to a value closer to the sweet spot of the lens, and increase the exposure. Much better!

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photo: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-16 extension tube; Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm camerasGodox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash for Fujifilm CamerasGodox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier; and a Canon 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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More test shots: Ladona deplanata exuvia

January 16, 2019

As promised, this blog post features more test shots of the exuvia from a Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) larva/nymph collected and reared by Bob Perkins.

All of the images in this photo set (including the dorsal view featured in my last blog post) are underexposed, except for the following photo: this photo looked overexposed on my camera LCD; the rest of the photos looked fine.

In reality, the photos were underexposed because I didn’t compensate for the effect of the extension tubes on exposure — a problem that was probably caused/exacerbated by switching the ISO from my usual setting of “A” (Auto) to 200. This photo turned out to have the best exposure because the flash power was several stops higher than the rest of the photos in the set. Remember the exposure triangle. (See Tech Tips/Related Resources, below.)

Oh, so close to a good shot! The left front leg blocks part of the face-head, and that doesn’t work for me. This specimen is a good candidate for rehydrating the exuvia and reposing its legs.

Related Resource: Test shot: Ladona deplanata exuvia.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photo: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 extension tubes; Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm camerasGodox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash for Fujifilm CamerasGodox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier; and Canon 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Tech Tips/Related Resources

What you should remember, as a rule of thumb, is that by the time you get close to magnifications of 1:1, the effective f-stop of the lens will have changed by about 2 stops. That means you, or your camera, are needing to compensate for this with a higher ISO, or a shutter speed that’s 4-times longer than you’d need without those tubes.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shot: Ladona deplanata exuvia

January 14, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) larva/nymph. This is the exuvia from the nymph.

I took a series of test shots with the specimen in four poses: dorsal; dorsal-lateral; face-head; and lateral. The following photo is the dorsal view; other poses will be featured in one-or-more follow-up blog posts.

I was also testing two new pieces of photography gear: a Fujifilm 16mm extension tube; and a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon external flash units.

For more magnification, I combined my Fujinon XF80mm macro lens with Fujinon MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 extension tubes.

My Canon 580EX II Speedlite features two wireless modes: optical master and optical slave; it does not feature wireless radio master/slave modes. Having said that, if the Canon 580EX II external flash is mounted on a Godox X1R-C, then the Canon flash can be triggered by wireless radio using a Godox XPro-series flash trigger.

For example, I mounted a Godox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm cameras on my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera. During limited testing, I discovered both my Canon 580EX- and 580EX II Speedlites fire when mounted on an X1R-C, with the following caveats: the flashes are set for Manual Mode only, at shutter speeds less than or equal to 180s (the sync speed of the XT-1 camera); neither TTL nor HSS works.

Related Resource: More test shots: Ladona deplanata exuvia.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photo: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 and MCEX-16 extension tubes; Fujinon XF80mm macro lens; Godox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm cameras; Godox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash for Fujifilm CamerasGodox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier; and Canon 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Composite image: Shadow Darner dragonfly

January 11, 2019

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

This individual is a male, as indicated by his “indented” hind wings.

Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) | face-head-dorsal

Artifacts

In my experience, focus stacking either works or it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, “artifacts” appear in the final output that can be caused by many factors. There are work-arounds that can be used to repair the artifacts with mixed success. (See Tech Tips/Related Resources.)

I shot 19 photographs that were used to create a focus-stacked composite image of the Shadow Darner dragonfly. There’s a lot going on in those photos that caused too many artifacts to publish the final output. Several of the more noticeable artifacts are shown below.

I created another composite image; I used as many photos as I could before the first artifacts appeared. As it turns out, only five of 19 photos were used in the do-over composite image (shown at the beginning of this blog post). Look closely — some of the same artifacts are also noticeable in the do-over version.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding composite image: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko macro automatic extension tubes (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm)Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Tech Tips/Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: Shadow Darner dragonfly

January 9, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) larva/nymph. This is a preserved specimen of the adult that emerged from the larva.

Test shots of this beautiful specimen were taken using a relatively small aperture of f/16 for greater depth of field. The following photo is a “one-off,” that is, not a composite image.

Related Resource: Test shots: Aeshna umbrosa exuvia.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photograph: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko macro automatic extension tubes (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm)Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Focus-stacking with CamRanger

January 7, 2019

This blog post reports the result of more experimentation with completely automated focus stacking using CamRanger.

25 photos were used to create this focus-stacked composite image of an Eastern Least Clubtail dragonfly (Stylogomphus albistylus) exuvia from an odonate nymph that Bob Perkins collected and reared.

I own two Canon macro lenses: a Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens; and a Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens.

The MP-E 65mm macro is manual focus only, and cannot be used with CamRanger to create automated focus-stacked composite images.

In contrast, the EF100mm macro can be used with CamRanger to create automated focus stacks. In order to increase the magnification of the EF100mm macro, I used the lens in combination with three Kenko macro automatic extension tubes: 12mm; 20mm; and 36mm.

Pros and Cons

My goal was to create a tight close-up showing the face-head only. On one hand I failed to achieve my goal due to less maximum magnification using the combination of EF100mm macro lens and extension tubes rather than the MP-E 65mm macro lens.

On the other hand I shot 25 photos in a little more than four minutes*, with the focus plane shifted in small increments from front to back along the subject — all without touching the camera after setting the initial focus point. That’s what I call success!

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot all of the photographs for the focus-stacked composite image of the exuvia: CamRanger hardware, and iOS app running on my iPad mini (with retina display); Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko macro automatic extension tubes (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm)Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units. CamRanger was set for a *10-second delay between shots in order to allow sufficient time for the lens to change focus automatically, the camera rig to settle, and the flash units to power-cycle.

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

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Five-flash studio macro photography rig

January 4, 2019

This blog post is a follow-on to a previous post entitled Studio macro photography rig. As you can see, my four-flash rig has been updated to include a fifth flash: a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Although it isn’t shown clearly in the following quick-and-dirty photo taken with my iPad 3, both the Godox TT685C and a Canon 580EX II Speedlite are mounted on the crossbar of my Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Alloy Tripod. Look closely — the tiny subject (a Stylogomphus albistylus exuvia) is positioned in the far-left corner of the white posing platform, in front of the Lastolite flash modifier.

The Lastolite flash modifier features a two-layer system of diffusers that provides beautiful soft light: the white square you can see on the outside of the collapsible box and another white square that you can’t see, located halfway between the flash head and the front of the box.

Another addition to the rig is my new 3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket. (Note: The camera body blocks your view of the L-bracket.) The L-bracket enabled me to mount the camera in portrait mode quickly and securely. Although the Manfrotto 405 Pro Digital Geared Head can be adjusted to position my camera rig in portrait mode, the heavy camera-lens-flash combo is unstable and can tip over easily.

New gear used for studio macro photography.

By the way, in case you looked at the preceding photo and wondered “What’s up with the crazy crop?” I used Photoshop to conceal some of the clutter in my kitchen. I set up my macro photo rig in the kitchen because it’s the largest uncarpeted area in my tiny apartment. Padded carpet is a poor surface for macro photography — the field of view from a tripod-mounted camera-lens-flash combo shifts noticeably (and unacceptably) as one moves around the rig.

More Tech Tips: A complete description of all of the equipment used in my studio macro photography rig is provided in a previous blog post entitled Studio macro photography rig.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Top 10 Photos of 2018

January 2, 2019

The following gallery shows 18 finalists for my “Top 10 Photos of 2018.” The photos are presented in reverse-chronological order beginning in September 2018 and ending in February 2018.

No. 1

20 SEP 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Pandora Sphinx moth

No. 2

23 AUG 2018 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Osprey (male, plus prey)

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

No. 7

No. 8

No. 9

12 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

No. 10

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

No. 11

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

No. 12

No. 13

No. 14

No. 15

No. 16

No. 17

No. 18

Editor’s Note: The following location codes are used in some photo captions, shown above.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Recognition in 2018

December 31, 2018

Editor’s Note: Items are presented in reverse-chronological order, based upon the date of the event.

Argia article

Michael Boatwright and I coauthored an article that appeared in the December 2018 issue of Argia, the journal of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas.

Argia 30(4), 2018 (page one of three).

Related Resource: PDF version of the entire article, pp. 14-16.


Signage

Several of my dragonfly photographs are featured on new signage at Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center, Clayton County, Georgia. The info-graphic, entitled “Mosquito Hawks,” was created by Danielle Bunch, Senior Conservationist for Clayton County Water Authority.

Image used with permission from Danielle Bunch.

Full-size versions of my photographs (featured on the signage) appear in several previous posts on my photoblog.


Next post: Top 10 Photos of 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New Life List additions in 2018 (odonates)

December 28, 2018

The anticipation of the hunt and the thrill of discovery — the adrenalin rush from finding the target species is ever more elusive as one gains experience and expertise. Accordingly, the number of additions to my Life List is fewer year after year.

Editor’s Note: List items are presented in chronological order, based upon the date of the spotting.

Twin-spotted Spiketail

A Twin-spotted Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster maculata) was spotted at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Brown Spiketail (male)

A Brown Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster bilineata) was spotted at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. I saw a female Brown Spiketail on 09 May 2013. This individual is one of several males that I spotted on 07 and 11 May 2018.

Gray Petaltail

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) was spotted at a forested seep. This individual is a male with a malformed abdomen that I nicknamed “Bender.”

06 JUN 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (male)

Sable Clubtail

Sable Clubtail dragonfly (Stenogomphurus rogersi) was spotted perched near a small stream located in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

Citrine Forktail damselfly (male)

Citrine Forktail damselfly (Ischnura hastata) was spotted during a stream-walk along South Fork Quantico Creek in Prince William Forest Park (PWFP), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.


Next post: Recognition in 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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