Archive for the ‘Panasonic DMC-FZ150’ Category

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.

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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.

New discoveries in 2018 (non-odonates)

December 24, 2018

As 2018 is coming to a close quickly, it’s time to indulge in a little retrospection. This blog post features a few new non-odonates that I spotted for the first time in 2018.

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

Pandora Sphinx moth

This beauty was my reward after a long, mostly unproductive photowalk at Huntley Meadows ParkPosted on 24 September 2018.

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

Wild Turkey

Although I have seen signs of Wild Turkey at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, 10 August 2018 is the first time I’ve seen actual birds at OBNWR. Posted on 19 August 2018 and 10 September 2018.

Northern Black Racer (mating pair)

Look closely — both heads are shown in the following photo. Posted on 30 September 2018.

21 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | black snakes (mating pair)


Next post: New odonate exuviae in 2018 (by family).

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Pot o’ Emeralds

December 17, 2018

The following photo shows a plastic container of 20 Downy Emerald dragonfly (Cordulia aenea) exuviae, collected by a good friend during April 2018 in Vienna, Austria. Not a pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow, but valuable treasure nonetheless!

Thanks to field marks shared by Benoit Guillon, I was able to quickly determine that all of the exuviae are the same species as the specimen featured in a recent blog post.

Benoit’s excellent Web pages are written in French. I used the Google Chrome Web browser to translate French to English.

The exuvia of the Tanned Cordulia is easy to recognize, provided you have good eyes or … a magnifying glass. It is indeed only to present a line, or double black line, on the thorax, clearly visible on the enlargement of the photo on the top left [see Benoit’s Web page]. She also has very large legs and we easily notice the teeth of the palps of her [face] mask in the photo above [see Benoit’s Web page]. As for his eyes, even if they are spectacular [sic?], some other odonate varieties are also strange. Source Credit: Benoit Guillon.

The key field marks — shown in the following focus-stacked composite image — include one- or two dark lines along the thorax, and a dark line between its small, pointy eyes.

Related Resource: Cordulia aenea: exuviae (1/2), by Benoit Guillon.

Tech Tips

I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera and a handheld Canon 580EX Speedlite fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier to shoot the first photo featured in this blog post.

The following equipment was used to shoot all of the photographs for the focus-stacked composite image, shown above: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko 20mm macro automatic extension tubeCanon 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. Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the focus-stacked composite image, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket

December 14, 2018

This post is a quick review of the “3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket,” Desmond DAC-X1 adaptor, and Manfrotto RC2 quick release tripod plate.

The primary advantage of using an L-bracket is to be able to switch from landscape view to portrait view quickly.

Many L-brackets, including the 3 Legged Thing bracket, feature an Arca-Swiss style tripod mount. Since most of my tripod heads use the Manfrotto RC2 system of quick release tripod plates, I needed to find a solution that would enable me to mount an Arca-Swiss tripod plate on my RC2 plates. After a little research on the Internet (Google is your friend), I decided to buy the Desmond DAC-X1 Skeleton Clamp. It’s well-designed, lightweight, and works as advertised.

Pros and cons

The following photo shows a 3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket (Orange) mounted on my Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera. A Desmond DAC-X1 Skeleton Clamp (black) is connected to the QR11-LC, and a Manfrotto RC2 quick release tripod plate (gray) is connected to the DAC-X1. The blue thing shown in the lower-left corner of the photo is a handy tool that is bundled with the QR11-LC.

3 Legged Thing QR11-LC Universal L-Bracket (Orange).

The Canon 5D Mark II DSLR was released in September 2008. 10 years later, it seems to be impossible to buy a new L-bracket made specifically for the 5DM2. The only option is to buy a “universal L-bracket.”

In my opinion, the word “universal” suggests the bracket fits a lot of camera models but doesn’t fit any model perfectly. It required a big leap of faith for me to buy the QR11-LC, but I must say I’m pleasantly surprised by how well it fits my 5DM2!

Most importantly (to me), the L-bracket DOESN’T block the door to the camera battery compartment.

There are openings for attaching a camera strap to either end of the L-bracket; the opening on the shorter side of the L-bracket aligns perfectly with the camera strap connector on the left side of the camera body, thereby adding some stability to the camera-bracket connection.

With the L-bracket mounted on the camera body as shown in the preceding photograph, it’s nearly impossible to open the compartment doors on the left side of the camera by reaching through the larger opening on the shorter side of the L-bracket. That said, the tool that comes with the QR11-LC makes it easy to loosen the tripod socket screw. Then you can slide the bracket far enough to the left to open the side compartment doors, leave the doors open, slide the L-bracket back into place, and tighten the tripod socket screw.

What’s the take-away?

Although I readily concede it’s unlikely there are many owners of the Canon 5D Mark II DSLR who will find this product review helpful, 3 Legged Thing sells several models of universal L-brackets that are compatible with newer cameras sold by Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, and Sony.

Related Resource: L Brackets: Two Minute Tips with David Bergman, by Adorama (2:46).

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Fiery fall fellow

November 28, 2018

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his fiery red coloration and terminal appendages.

Editor’s Notes

Did you notice the date when the preceding photo was taken? Yep, it was two years ago! I was poking around in my photo archives looking for another photo when I stumbled across this one. I like the warm red color of the dragonfly and the timing seemed right on a cold late-fall day.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Five-lined Skink

November 9, 2018

A Common Five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a juvenile as indicated by its dark brown color and bright blue tail.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bonding with Bender

November 7, 2018

Gray Petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thorei) have a well-known preference for perching on gray or tan colored surfaces, including gray or tan colored clothing. Dressed appropriately, I visited a hotspot for Gray Petaltail where I hoped to shoot some “selfie” photographs of a Grey Petaltail perched on me.

The first photo is a “selfie” that shows a Fiery Skipper butterfly (Hylephila phyleus) perched on my left forearm. Thanks to several members of the BugGuide Facebook group for help in identifying the butterfly!

A Fiery Skipper butterfly perched on my left forearm.

The pained expression on my face says “You should have worn your glasses, you old fool!” I call it “going snake-eyed.”

The last photo is a “selfie” that shows a Gray Petaltail dragonfly perched on my Cabela’s Safari Series vest. This individual is a male that I nicknamed “Bender” because of his malformed abdomen.

A Gray Petaltail dragonfly (male) perched on my Cabela’s safari vest.

Open the full-size version of the preceding photo and zoom in on the dragonfly. Look at Bender’s face. I wonder what he was thinking.

Tech Tips

I used my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera to shoot the “selfie” photos featured in this blog post. The camera was set for manual focus at the hyperfocal distance for an aperture of f/4, based upon the instructions provided in the excellent video tutorial by Graham Houghton, “Panasonic Lumix FZ camera easier manual focus method — super point-and-shoot tip.”

The camera was mounted on a Sunpak 8001 UT medium duty aluminum tripod, with the articulating LCD facing forward. A JJC TM-Series Multi-Function Timer Remote Control was connected to the camera. I sat on a Coleman camp stool positioned a few feet in front of the camera, with the remote control in one hand.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Precious cargo

November 5, 2018

Odonates are aquatic insects. They spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

Careful and/or lucky observers will notice exuviae (sing. exuvia), also known as either “cast skins” or “shed skins,” left behind when odonate larvae emerge. Exuviae are fragile little works of natural art that are challenging at best to ship from one location to another.

The preceding photo shows a small plastic vial containing three odonate exuviae, received from Andy Davidson. All three exuviae are members of Family Libellulidae (Skimmers). From left-to-right, the following specimens can be seen inside the vial: Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens); Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis); Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).

Andy packed the exuviae carefully inside a centrifuge tube with a screw on/off cap; pieces of crumpled bubble wrap were used to separate the specimens inside the tube. A pair of tweezers was used to remove the bubble wrap. All three exuviae appear to be in perfect condition.

Editor’s Notes

Andy Davidson is a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia USA. Andy works with Dr. James Vonesh, his faculty advisor, and a team of researchers studying the ecology of James River rock pools. Andy’s research project is entitled “Predator-Prey Interactions in a Changing World.”

Sincere thanks to Andy for kindly sharing several exuviae saved from laboratory-reared odonate nymphs — I’m looking forward to creating new annotated identification guides for the specimens!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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