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Old Sep 4, 2011, 7:56 PM   #1
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Default Dragons & Damsels

Noticed that there have been a lot of really fine Dragonfly and Damselfly photos here at the Close-Ups forums lately, and wanted to share a few more, and also share a recommendation...

First the recommendation... It seems to me that one of the best uses of nature photography can be:
1. To interest others in the amazing Creation, so they will want to enjoy and protect natural resources.
2. To work to better protect those resources ourselves - because we need to know what is there, before we can protect what is there.

So I'd like to recommend that, if you take any good photos of Dragonflies or Damselflies, you should visit Odonata Central: http://www.odonatacentral.org/index..../name/HomePage
This is the central clearinghouse for information on where Dragons & Damsels are found. Your photo might add to this information, and lead to better conservation. Just check out your county checklist, to see if the species you have photographed might be a new county record!

For example, here are two new ones for my home county - a Banded MeadowHawk and a Flag-Tailed Spinyleg...
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 8:05 PM   #2
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Some have asked for dragonfly photo techniques. I am DEFINITELY not an expert, but here are a few tips that have helped me:

Remember that odonates have no sense of hearing. So you can be as loud as you'd like. But they are VERY sensitive to movements, so go very slowly and try not to shake any vegetation. Especially try not to let your shadow fall across the 'fly when you are moving.

Many species will choose a favorite perch. They will return to that perch again and again, so just wait nearby... If you see them begin moving their head around to get a closer look at you, stop moving immediately.

Here are some of the perchers:

Blue Dasher, Calico Pennant, Spangled Skimmer, Slaty Skimmer and 12-Spot Skimmer
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 8:09 PM   #3
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Other species will just keep on cruising. But they often follow a set pattern. So if you prefocus on a part of that path, you might get some really fine in-flight photos.

If you (like me) are too slow to catch the flying ones in good focus, try going out very early in the AM, when some of the cruisers might be perched for a short time - like this Springtime Darner, Common Green Darner, Tiger Spiketail, and Brown Spiketail. Also here's a Dragon Hunter - sometimes cruiser, sometimes percher, often eats other Dragonflies!
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 8:13 PM   #4
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Damselflies are close cousins of the Dragonflies - one quick way to tell them apart is to notice how they hold their wings. Damsels fold their wings or (for the Spreadwings) hold them at a partly-folded angle. They are also usually smaller and almost always skinnier-looking than dragonflies.

For example, here are a female Blue-Fronted Dancer, a male Eastern Forktail, and a male American Rubyspot.
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 8:15 PM   #5
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One of the best ways to get close-ups of damselflies is to catch them when they are mating or laying eggs. Here are a pair of Ebony Jewelwings mating, some Fragile Forktails laying eggs in the water, and some Southern Spreadwings laying eggs into the stems of rush plants.
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 8:19 PM   #6
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And one more tip - to get the most accurate identification of your damsels and dragons, be sure to take plenty of photos from as many different angles as possible. Sometimes the only difference between two species may be one line on the side of the thorax, or one spot on the front of the face...

Hope these few tips help, and hope that you will continue taking all those great close-ups, and sharing them here - so we can continue to be amazed at the creatures, and at your photographic talents too!
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 8:54 PM   #7
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Holy Mole' ! That was some serious knowledge droppin, that series of posts should almost be it's own website. Thanks for taking the time, I love tips from other photographers, but I hate to nag people everytime they post a cool picture I've not had much luck with the dfly identifying resources i've run across, so that website looks awesome. I can't believe I didn't run across it while searching. Thanks again
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Old Sep 4, 2011, 9:49 PM   #8
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Mole, this is truly helpful information in every way. I agree with you that we should all pitch in to save these beautiful creatures, and appreciate your sharing the website where we can play a small part in the effort. Your images are breathtakingly beautiful, and your tips are greatly appreciate by all. Thank you for a great post!!
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Old Sep 5, 2011, 1:51 AM   #9
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Hi Mole - just amazing, outstanding shots of the delicate and beautiful critters. Thanks for showing and sharing the photos, info and website. Its heartwarming to know that there is a whole bunch of great people here that love and appreciate mother nature and all she has to offer - and that they want to do their bit as well. Thank you for a fab post.
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Old Sep 5, 2011, 3:41 PM   #10
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Fantastic shots and a wealth of information, thanks for sharing.

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