Sometimes, I Cheat

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

July 6, 2012

In general, I have a sort of a “fair-chase” ethos about my photography. No posed subjects, no half-frozen insects (a great way to get them to sit still), etc. Sometimes, however, I have to ask myself, “what’s the task at hand: do I want a photo, or do I want a record?”

For the last three summers, I have been trying to photograph and identify a large, pale-eyed dragonfly that patrols my yard at dusk. I have had no luck whatsoever. Neither my eyes nor my camera’s autofocus are very good in low light.

Dragonfly at dusk over patio

A "fair chase" photograph. Ain't it awful?

Two evenings ago, I saw a dragonfly on dusk patrol, low and slow around the pickup truck.

I went and got my old insect net, but by the time I came back, it was gone.  Well, that sort of thing happens—a lot.  I put the net away, started for the house, and there it was. Went back, got the net, grabbed the camera, came back, and caught her.

Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa)

Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa)

It was a very nice female Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa), a species I have never identified before.

Many odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) require that you get a rather close view of their private parts for identification purposes: here you go.

Female Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa) genitalia

Female Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa) tip of the abdomen

Turns out you don’t need that for a Fawn Darner. Sorry ma’am.

For those not that familiar with dragonflies and damselflies, the wings are remarkably tough, and if handled with a modicum of care, you will do no damage. I let her go, and she went right back to patrolling my front lawn.

So, mystery answered, and no dragonflies were harmed in the writing of this Note.

Boring photography stuff: I used a Canon DSLR with a 100mm macro lens, held in one hand, for these shots.  I used the porch light over my shoulder to give me enough light for autofocus, and I shot at ISO 250, aperture preferred, f22 using the pop-up flash. The camera fired at 1/250 sec. Held at arm’s length, I could get a shot of the full dragonfly.

Female Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa)

Female Fawn Darner (Boyeria vinosa)

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One Response

  1. Cindy said:

    whew, I hope I passed the spam free contest.. if so, I enjoyed this post :)

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