Female Flame Skimmer
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I very much enjoy photographing dragonflies. They are fascinating and beautiful insects. They are a challenge to photograph and the challenge makes the photography fun. Dragonflies don’t often perch obligingly. They have superb vision, they can see me coming, and they are hypersensitive to movement. So, I must always approach a sitting dragonfly with extreme care or I’ll scare the insect into leaving long before I can take a photo. There are also substantial issues of composition, lighting, and background that photographing dragonflies invariably involve.
I hadn’t expected to see a dragonfly this early in the year. They are out and about but not in the numbers that we’ll experience as the weather heats up. But, the other day I came across a female Flame Skimmer sitting on the tip of a yucca spine and I was delighted to take her picture.
Flame Skimmers are among the larger dragonflies that we encounter in this area and among the more common as well. As the weather heats up, these big insects seem to show up anywhere that is near at least a small quantity of standing or running water. Male Flame Skimmers are among the gaudiest dragonflies that I’ve seen: every part of them, including their eyes, is tinted a brilliant and very intense orange. Females, like this one, are mostly beige. But, that is not to suggest that they are any less attractive than the males. Personally, I think that female Flame Skimmers may be the more attractive gender. There is a subtle beauty to them that the males lack. Notice the faint orange tint in the female’s eyes, the ribs of her wings, and even on her abdomen. She is gorgeous.
Another thing about this female that is worth noticing: one of her wings is tattered. That is very common with dragonflies. They get buffeted around by the wind and they are attacked by predators, especially by birds. Sometimes, there are near-misses that show up like this. Evidently, there is a great deal of redundancy built into those wings. I’ve seen dragonflies flying with aplomb with wings that are much more damaged than are this insect’s wings.
Image made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L macro lens, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT speedlite and stabilized by monopod, ISO 160, f13 @ 1/160.