Posts Tagged ‘head-tilt’

Testing 1, 2, 3.

June 11, 2017

During a trip to Riverbend Park on 09 May 2017 to observe the annual mass emergence of Cobra Clubtail dragonflies (Gomphurus vastus), I experimented with my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera, Fujinon XF55-200mm zoom lens, and Fujifilm EF-X500 shoe mount flash.

The first photo shows a male perching on the pavement near the boat ramp at the park. Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality.

200mm (300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/11 | 1/500s | ISO 800 | +1 ev

The last two photos show a female, perching on a fence rail.

200mm (300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/11 | 1/500s | ISO 800 | 0 ev

200mm (300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/11 | 1/500s | ISO 800 | 0 ev

Tech Tips: My Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera was set for manual aperture, manual shutter speed, and automatic ISO; the EF-X500 external flash was set for ETTL.

I like to use relatively fast shutter speeds in order to reduce camera shake, resulting in more tack-sharp photos. The default flash sync speed of the X-T1 is 1/180s. (Actually, up to 1/250s works.) My new EF-X500 external flash is high-speed sync compatible so I was able to shoot at shutter speeds faster than the sync speed of the camera, in this case 1/500s. The reciprocal rule says I should have used a shutter speed of at least 1/600s at a focal length of 300mm, but I decided to go conservative and shoot at a slightly slower speed. Most of my photos turned out to be acceptably sharp.

At f/11 and 1/500s, the camera increased the ISO to 800. That’s higher than I prefer to shoot, but hey, the photos look relatively noise-free so no problem.

In my opinion, the EF-X500 external flash was consistently underpowered in ETTL mode. During follow-up testing, I rediscovered something I learned a long time ago: If you want to control the way a photo turns out, then Manual Mode is the way to go.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Personality

March 9, 2017

In my experience, some dragonflies have a personality. Like this male Banded Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis fasciata) spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

I photographed two other male Banded Pennants; both of them were relatively skittish. Not this guy. It’s like he sensed I wasn’t a threat to his well-being and allowed me to get up close and, well, personal.

Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m fond of head-tilts — one way in which dragonflies seem to display some of their personality. Both shots show a slight head-tilt to the left.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Painted Skimmer dragonflies (males)

December 4, 2016

Several Painted Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula semifasciata) were spotted at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park. All of these individuals are males, as indicated by their terminal appendages.

Sometimes you need to stop and smell the “soft rush” (Juncus effusus), the common name for the shoreline/emergent plant with a light green round stem and brownish-green flowers shown in the following photo. Soft rush is common in wetland areas.

You may be wondering, “Do dragonflies have a sense of smell?” The surprising answer can be found in an interesting article from Science magazine: Dragonflies Lack ‘Smell Center,’ but Can Still Smell.

The second and third photos in this gallery show the same male. Regular readers of my photoblog know I love a good head-tilt, shown below.

The following male must be a member of the Democratic Party, based upon his viewpoint to the left. Hah! I couldn’t resist a little good-natured jab at my friends from the opposition party who are still suffering over the outcome of the recent USA presidential election.

The last one’s for you, Michael Powell. Turns out it’s a rare photo (well, rare for me) shot in Aperture priority mode — looking along the barrel of the body, thought I’d need more depth of field.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Wildlife watching “Wildlife Watching” sign

November 24, 2016

There is a “Wildlife Watching” sign located along the boardwalk at Huntley Meadows Park, near the observation tower overlooking the central wetland area.

Notice the Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on the signage. This individual is a male, as indicated by the bright red coloration of his abdomen and by his terminal appendages.

Regular readers of my photoblog know I love a good head-tilt! Doesn’t this guy look jaunty?

Autumn Meadowhawks like to rest on sunlit surfaces like the sign (and boardwalk) in order to absorb thermal energy.

Hey folks, you’re looking the wrong way — there’s a big dragonfly behind you!

The hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park is a good habitat for many species of odonates, including Autumn Meadowhawk.

I spent about 30 minutes watching the sign, waiting for the dragonfly to land at different places on the sign. During that time, several people passed the sign but no one noticed the dragonfly. As the sign says, “Take time to look carefully” when you visit a wildlife watching park.

Editor’s Note: On the traditional day when we give thanks for our many blessings, I am especially thankful for the opportunity to be a frequent and careful observer of the natural beauty of the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park, and for many good friends with whom I share the experience. Happy Thanksgiving!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another sighting of Russet-tipped Clubtail

October 20, 2016

It was my good fortune to see another Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) on 03 October 2016 during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

This one was by far the most challenging to spot/rewarding to find because the dragonfly was perching high in a cedar tree where it was well camouflaged.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [*]

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen, and his terminal appendages. Notice the epiproct is a large “plate” that spans both cerci, as shown in the full-size version of the following photo.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [Good view of terminal appendages.]

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I love a good head-tilt, as shown in the next photo.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I like the way the coloration of the male Russet-tipped Clubtail complements the color palette of the background in all of the photos.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male. [Good view of terminal appendages.]

03 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another Russet-tipped Clubtail

October 14, 2016

I was eager to see another Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) after I spotted one on 22 September 2016 during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

A male Russet-tipped Clubtail was observed on 25 September 2016 at JMAWR, but it was only a fleeting glimpse. When I spotted him, he was flitting around looking for a perch — after two “touch-and-gos” he flew toward the trees in the distance and I never saw him again.

Another Russet-tipped Clubtail was spotted on 27 September 2016 that was more cooperative. This individual is a male, as indicated by the large russet-colored club at the end of his abdomen, and his terminal appendages.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Notice this male has tattered wings; the one spotted on 22 September does not. Facing forward, there’s a nick in the lower-left hindwing (above), and a chunk is missing from the upper-right forewing (below). Although this post is entitled Another Russet-tipped Clubtail, this male could be the same one seen on either the 22nd or the 25th with wing damage sustained during the interval between photowalks.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

I love a good head-tilt, as shown in the preceding photo. But wait, there’s more to love — the hint of fall in the foliage in all of the photos.

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Also notice all of the photos in this gallery show excrement extending from the tip of the abdomen. I’m a paparazzi who likes to photograph odonates “going about their usual life routines,” including doing their business. Hey, life happens!

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

A Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (Stylurus plagiatus) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

27 SEP 2016 | JMAWR | Russet-tipped Clubtail (male)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (female)

October 12, 2016

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted at Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by the pattern of wing spots and her terminal appendages.

I was able to take one shot of the dragonfly as seen from a typical viewpoint before she moved to a perch located slightly above my head. Making lemonade from lemons, I continued to take photos. In retrospect, I realized the two shots from a ventral viewpoint turned out to be more visually interesting than the dorsal view.

I love a good head-tilt!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Perchers like perching on Coleman

October 6, 2016

Dragonflies are classified as either “fliers” or “perchers,” based upon their feeding habits. Members of the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers) are perchers. Further, males of many species of Skimmers perch near prime egg-laying habitat — like a small vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park — in order to attract mates.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was photographed as it perched on my Coleman camp stool.  This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

If I were going to post only my best shots, then I would choose the first photo (shown above) and the last. I included the next photo because it provides a closer look at the head and body of the dragonfly; the trade-off is the terminal appendages are in soft focus.

Common Whitetail dragonfly

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted at the same location as the Blue-faced Meadowhawk. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

I love the head-tilt shown in the following photo!

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, perching on a Coleman camp stool.

15 SEP 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (male)

Notice the scratches along his abdomen, an indication he has mated many times.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the midabdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, perching on a Coleman camp stool.

15 SEP 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (male)

I like to rest during long photowalks by sitting my Coleman camp stool for a few minutes, and as you can see, some species of my favorite insects like to rest on the camp stool too!

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, perching on a Coleman camp stool.

15 SEP 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (male)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Return to terra firma

September 16, 2016

Several Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) were spotted near two vernal pools at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park. All of these individuals are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

The next photo shows one of the males perching in the obelisk position.

Many dragonflies [perch in the] obelisk position to limit the amount of sunlight hitting their body and use their wings to shade their overheated thoracic flight muscles. Why not just find a shady spot? If he did he would relinquish his territory and that would reduce his chances for mating. Source Credit: Richard Orr, renowned expert on odonates of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality, especially when the individual is looking at me. I nicknamed this guy “Paleface” because his face is a lighter shade of turquoise than most male Blue-faced Meadowhawks.

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

The last three photographs were taken in a dry drainage ditch located near one of the vernal pools. According to the most recent U.S. Drought Monitor update, parts of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region are “abnormally dry” — one classification category from “drought.”

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

A Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

12 SEP 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

The Backstory: Teneral Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies were observed at Huntley Meadows Park during late-May and early-June 2016, documented in Previews of coming attractions by Walter Sanford. (Hey, that’s me!) A pull quote from that blog post explains the title of this one.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies are classified as a fall species of odonate. In the mid-Atlantic United States, meadowhawks seem to disappear for several months after they emerge during early summer and reappear during fall. Where do they go? No one knows for sure. I speculate Blue-faced Meadowhawks are an arboreal species of dragonfly that returns to the ground/water when it’s time to mate.

It must be time for Blue-faced Meadowhawks to mate, because they’ve returned to terra firma!

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (female)

September 2, 2016

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) was spotted at Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA). This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

The orangish-red coloration of this specimen could mislead you into thinking it’s a male. Be aware that the same species of dragonfly may appear differently depending upon gender, age, and natural variation.

A Needham's Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) spotted at Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

02 JUL 2016 | MRA | Needham’s Skimmer (female)

Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality, especially when the individual is looking at me.

A Needham's Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) spotted at Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

02 JUL 2016 | MRA | Needham’s Skimmer (female)

Another day, another head tilt…

A Needham's Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) spotted at Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

06 JUL 2016 | MRA | Needham’s Skimmer (female)

The preceding photo was taken a few days after the first two photos. Is it the same female? That seems likely since her orangish-red coloration is uncommon. Also, some species of dragonflies seem to be creatures of habit, returning to the same location day-after-day. It’s worth noting this dragonfly was perching in roughly the same spot on both days.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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