Posts Tagged ‘Widow Skimmer dragonfly’

Widow Skimmer (immature male)

July 12, 2019

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted near a small pond at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

01 JUN 2019 | ORP | Widow Skimmer (immature male)

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. He is hunkered down in a hidey-hole, almost out of sight.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Three-layer focus stack

December 7, 2018

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosanymph. This blog post features a three-layer composite image of the exuvia from the odonate nymph.

Three photos were used to create the focus stack: The focus point is on the face mask/head in the first photo; the thorax in the second photo; and the terminal appendages in the third photo.

Due to the orientation of the subject, the entire body of the exuvia is acceptably in focus, including most of the legs. I wish I could say this happy accident is a result of careful planning!

Related Resource: Test shots: Libellula luctuosa exuvia.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the preceding photographs: 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.

Test shots: Libellula luctuosa exuvia

December 5, 2018

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) nymph. This blog post features test shots of the exuvia from the odonate nymph.

Several field marks worth noting include the “tiger stripes” on top of its head, wing pads that are perpendicular to the body, dorsal hooks (exact number unknown without closer examination), and lateral spines on abdominal segments eight and nine (S8-9).

The exuvia has small pointy eyes, a mask-like labium (prementum) that covers the face, and thin threadlike antennae.

Background color

In this case, “Test shots” also refers to experimentation with the background color. At the suggestion of Larry de March, Western Odonata Facebook group, I shot the test photos on a Vello 18% gray card.

For a background, I prefer something less bright than pure white to simplify exposure and stay within the dynamic range of the camera. Source Credit: Larry de March.

I edited Photo No. 1 and No. 2 a little differently in an attempt to arrive at a pleasing shade of neutral gray. Notice that No. 1 appears bluer in color than No. 2, which seems to be slighty yellowish.

Although a sample size of one doesn’t necessarily prove anything, my initial opinion is I prefer either an off-white or pure white background. Which color do you prefer?

Related Resource: Three-layer focus stack.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the preceding photographs: 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 spot-heal and sharpen both images.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (immature male)

July 4, 2018

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. As a mature male, the front of his thorax and abdomen will be covered by white pruinescence.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (female)

August 16, 2017

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Look for immature- and female dragonflies in fields near water, sometimes far from water. I found this female perching in a large field several hundred yards from Painted Turtle Pond.

As a wildlife photographer with a focus on insect photography, one of my mantras is: “Get a shot, any shot; refine the shot.” In other words, don’t miss the opportunity to document a spotting by trying to get a great shot first.

The preceding photo is the record shot. Next, I worked my way around the subject slowly; several shots later I was able to get a good shot of the dorsal side of the dragonfly.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmers at Riverbend Park

February 25, 2017

A couple of Widow Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula luctuosa) were spotted while hunting for clubtail dragonflies along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Riverbend Park is a “big river” habitat, so I was surprised to see Widow Skimmers.

Habitat Lakes, ponds, and pools in slow streams of all kinds with mud bottoms and usually much vegetation, in open and wooded habitats. Common at farm ponds and other created habitats. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 9061-9063). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Male

The first photo features a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages. This individual has mated many times, as shown by scratches on the white pruinescence covering his abdomen.

Female

A female is shown in the last two photos, as indicated by her coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2017 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.

Widow Skimmers at Painted Turtle Pond

October 10, 2016

Several Widow Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula luctuosa) were spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

Males

The following individuals are males, as indicated by the pattern of wing spots and their terminal appendages.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Widow Skimmer (male)

All four photos feature immature- to young males, as indicated by the female-like coloration of their abdomen. As mature males, their abdomen will be completely covered by white pruinescence.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Widow Skimmer (male)

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Widow Skimmer (male)

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Widow Skimmer (male)

Female

The last individual is a female, as indicated by the pattern of wing spots and her terminal appendages.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Widow Skimmer (female)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Maturation

August 1, 2015

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted during a photowalk around Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

24 JUL 2015 | JMAWR | Widow Skimmer (mature male)

This individual is a mature male that has mated many times, as indicated by his coloration, terminal appendages, and scratches on the abdomen.

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 Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

24 JUL 2015 | JMAWR | Widow Skimmer (mature male)

Contrast the appearance of the mature male Widow Skimmer with the following immature male, spotted at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). Notice the mature male has two features that differentiate it from the immature male: white wing spots; and white pruinescence covering part of its thorax and all of its abdomen.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male.

06 JUN 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (immature male)

“Maturation,” the title of this post, also refers to my growth as an odonate hunter and photographer/photo editor. One look at the following photographs of the first Widow Skimmer I saw in the field, and it’s evident I’ve progressed to a higher level of dragonfly spotting during the past three years.

The preceding gallery features a male Widow Skimmer spotted at Lake Allen, Patuxent Research Refuge (North Tract). Admittedly not my best work, these photos were taken the first time I used a DSLR camera.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (female)

July 16, 2015

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted on 05 July 2015 during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Beware of look-alikes: Immature male and female Widow Skimmers look similar.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

This individual has a slightly malformed abdomen, especially noticeable in the preceding photo.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

I’m especially fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a slightly malformed abdomen.

05 JUL 2015 | HMP | Widow Skimmer (female)

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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