Wildlife Photography Tips 5 - Dragonflies in Flight

I thought I would provide a tip for those interested in shooting dragonflies in flight. They can, at times, be difficult to capture on the wing, even though they are probably the easiest invert to shoot in flight.

This image was captured at the Salton Sea last weekend. I was looking for shorebirds when the friend of mine pointed him out to me.

Dragonflies, flycatchers, and some other predators have specific feeding patterns. Dragonflies and damselflies often select a specific perch to hunt from - returning to the same perch again and again to launch attacks on smaller prey.

For this shot, I set my 150-600 Sig Sport focusing just above, and to the right, of a selected perch site since that was the most frequently used flight path.

I pre-focused on a spot that the dragonfly was approaching from, then compensated a bit for the distance it would be behind the perch as it came in to land. Each time the insect took off from the perch, I waited for the return. The camera autofocus was shut off. Remember to do this or your camera will be attempting to autofocus when it should be capturing the image. This time lag will cause you to miss many of the shots you should have acquired. Use Continuous mode if you have the capability in your camera. Begin you bursts just prior to the insect entering what you would percieve as the image field of view.

Here is a sample shot. I didn't have a great deal of time, otherwise I would have taken many more shots and captured a shot with a bit more sharpness. But if you take your time and set up a plan after observing your subject, you will be rewarded with an image now and again that you can add to your collection.

Dragonflies are very common, and you should be able to secure a site at any nearby pond or slow-moving creek or river. Good luck and Happy Shooting.

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