Male Blue-Eyed Darner At Rest
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Sometimes when I’m out in the field looking for subjects to photograph I come across something that is totally unexpected. At such times, flexibility is key. In order to get the image one must adapt in order to take advantage of the situation.
Such was the case a couple of weeks ago. I was out looking for birds. I was carrying my “bird” equipment, including my 100-400mm zoom lens and a telextender that increases the lens’ maximum effective focal length to 560 millimeters. I had no plans to photograph insects on this occasion. I use a different camera and lens, a flash, and a monopod or even a tripod to photograph insects and other small creatures.
I was slowly patrolling a bed of reeds as I stalked a couple of sparrows when I was surprised to see a large dragonfly land on a reed just about five feet away from me. I was surprised in two respects: first, dragonflies don’t normally land right next to me as I’m walking around; and second, this dragonfly was a male Blue-eyed Darner.
Blue-eyed Darners are among the largest of the dragonflies that I see on a regular basis. They’re quite common, in fact, but they are almost impossible to photograph. That’s because they never stay still long enough for me to compose and shoot. Invariably, when I see them they’re darting about, shifting directions with almost impossible suddenness. One will hover just in front of me and, as I raise my camera to take a shot, it will suddenly shoot off at blinding speed, only to hover in an another spot 20 feet away. Seemingly, these big insects never are at rest.
But, this one was different. It came to a rest on a reed and stayed put. I immediately began shooting.
The size of this insect is not apparent from this photo but it is about 3 inches long. It is perching vertically, which is a typical trait for darners. It is among the most boldly patterned of the dragonflies that I see. I love the bright blue stripes on its body and its brilliant blue eyes, which give the dragonfly its name.
I’ve been hunting dragonflies for more than five years and this is my first capture of a perching Blue-eyed Darner. And, that, despite the fact that I had the “wrong” equipment. I’m extremely happy with these images.
Photos made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400mm f4-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 320, f10 @ 1/200.