I used to think dragonflies were impossible to photograph. They'd flit about, land for less than a second and then buzz off again. After much stalking and some lucky captures I realized that you just have to find a dragonfly who is in the mood. Some will sit very still and practically let you poke a camera in their face! But if they are in the mood for flying, you haven't got a chance.
This photo (below) is probably my best ever dragonfly photo and, curiously, it was taken while I was surrounded by noisy school students on a bushwalk! We were near the Denutrification Wetland in Girrahween Park (a great place for spotting dragonflies) and I got several photos from different angles before it flew away.
This blue dragonfly (below) was seen on a school buswalk in the picnic area at Girrahween Park. The students were gathered for lunch and I stopped mid sentence when I saw this large blue dragonfly land close by. I later explained how rare it was for a dragonfly to pose for you!
The red dragonfly below proved trickier to capture. It was buzzing around a stormwater drain at Girrahween Park. My eyes could easily keep track of its movements because of the bright colour but I had to take the photo from a long distance because it wouldn't land close to me.
Even when dragonflies do stay still, they are tricky to photograph because a large proportion of their bodies are see-through! The transparent wings either don't show up well or reflect the light in ways you'd rather they didn't! Here are some examples:
The most beautiful dragonfly I ever saw was at The Drip on the Goulburn River near Gulgong, NSW. It was copper coloured and patterned in a way that reminded me of art deco stained windows. I was lucky enough to capture it with my hand-held mini-digital camera. Alas, the photos did not do justice to the perfection I saw with my eyes!
Also seen at The Drip was this blue-eyed yellow dragonfly.
Another trick is to catch dragnflies while they're mating. They seem to have other things on their mind than avoiding cameras!
Occasionally the images are so big and so close that the finer details of the dragonfly can be studied up close. I bet you didn't know they were so hairy!
And finally a word about Damselflies. Do you know how to tell the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly? One trick is to look at the way they hold their wings when they rest. If they are folded back along the body like this, chances are it's a damselfly.
I wrote this post a few weeks ago. Today, in the school garden, I had a fantastic encounter with a dragonfly. He posed for my camera for ages and I got some great photos.
For more details, see my Nature at School blog.