Not about everything

April 8, 2013

A box full of exuvia

Filed under: dragonfly,nature,odonata — takaita @ 19:39
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Every year is the Dutch Dragonfly Study Day. It was nice to be among people who share the same love for dragonflies. People who sometimes are a bit strange. For example someone brought a lot of empty larval skins to give them away. I loved the box full of Aesha viridis. It is a rare species, but maybe not so rare if one knows where to find the skins.

Aesha viridis, exuvia

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September 20, 2007

“Oh, he’s photographing grass” she said

Filed under: nature,nature photography,photography — takaita @ 13:12
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Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)
Brown Hawker
(Aeshna grandis)
Migrant Hawker (Aesna mixta)
Migrant Hawker
(Aeshna mixta)

There I was. Seriously trying to make photos of dragonflies. There were lots of them. Mainly Hawkers (Aeshna) and Meadowhawks (Sympetrum). I was especially interested in the Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis), the species that I find so hard to photograph. At this spot I counted at least six of them. While walking around, sometimes one of them would fly up from its hiding place unexpectedly. Each time that happened I told myself again that I should look better and try to see them before they escaped from my camera.

There were also many individuals of the Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) . In Dutch this species is called Paardenbijter, which translates to Horse Biter. You can fantasize why it got that name. I don’t know it for certain.

Anyway. I thought that it might be easier to get close to the Brown Hawker if I would follow a flying one until it sat down and then carefully approach that spot. So I did. I had followed one with my eyes and saw it disappear in the vegetation. With my eyes fixed on that spot I carefully stepped closer. At that point a bunch of females and girls came riding by on horses. I am not sure what the fun of riding horses is, but it has to do something with something that girls like. There were about 20 horses stepping slowly in a long row and the girls seemed happy sitting on top of them.

The girls wondered what a lonely man was doing walking around in the grass. One of them must have seen my camera. “Oh, he’s photographing grass” she said so loud that I could hear it. Problem solved. Lonely man classified as weird but harmless. And on they went.

At that time I thought it best to say nothing. Only later I realized I should have told her that there were many Horse Biters around.

(Both photos were taken at the afternoon this happened. I still need a better photo of the Brown Hawker)

August 12, 2007

The birth (and death) of a photographic style

Filed under: nature,photography — takaita @ 19:31
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Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)The Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis) is a dragonfly that is hard to miss when present. It is big, brown and flies around all the time.That, at the same time, is the trouble when you want to take a photo of it. To be honest I should say that it does sometimes rest and that at such moments it is possible to shoot it. There are plenty such photos and I even did one or two myself. Anyway, I have been trying to shoot it in flight. Shooting dragonflies in flight is something that I find very hard. I have seen photos of others which seem just perfect, and they are sometimes presented as if it had cost no effort to do. I am not one of those.

This is how I do it. First find a place where the dragonfly regularly flies along. They patrol their territory, so it is not hard to find such a place. Then set my camera to manual focus, and focus it to a distance at which the dragonfly approximately passes by. Then wait until it flies along. There is no time to refocus, because it moves too quickly and changes course very often. It is a matter of pointing the camera in the right direction and click, hoping that the dragonfly is in the frame and that the focus distance was right. Of course that usually goes wrong. But once in so many times it goes more or less right. I am sure that others have found better techniques (judging from their photos). Please let me know.

One of the photos that completely missed the dragonfly was actually quite nice. It showed some totally out-of-focus vegetation that was growing on the other side of the water. I put it through some processing with photomatix (which is mostly used to create dreadful-looking HDR photos, but it can be used to proces single RAW photo files too) and created some extra grain by sharpening it.

Vegetation Impression

I liked it. And at the same time I thought I could try to make such photos on purpose. All I had to do was to find a nice piece a vegetation, with some structure and some colors, set my camera to manual focus and make sure that the vegetation is quite out of focus.

Yes, I know. Maybe others have done this before. I haven’t seen it, but that means nothing. It is ok if you tell me who did this before. But this was my accident, not somebody else’s.

Anyway. I went for it. While hunting for dragonflies with my camera (which I do all the time these days), I sometimes took the time to look around for some vegetation that I could shoot out-of-focus. Coming home I’d process them as described and post them to my flickr account. Nothing special happened, a few views, a scarce comment.

In just a few days I created a dozen of such photos, and already now I am bored of it. Not because it is not nice, or that I don’t like it. But because it is too easy. Almost anywhere I stand in low vegetation I can see something that would produce a result like this. Or maybe I just lack the education (in arts) to define an idiom for this, some way to make it harder.

Maybe one day I’ll come back to this, or find a way to use it a bit differently. But for now you can look at the dozen Vegetation Impressions. And I’ll go back to pure dragonfly hunting.

July 20, 2007

I said “thank you” to an insect

Filed under: biology,nature,photography — takaita @ 19:49
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It’s true, I am into dragonfly photography. It must have started last summer, when I discovered a population of Banded Demoiselles (Calopteryx splendens) quite close where I live. Amazingly that is in the middle of a city. At least I think it is amazing. Such pretty blue-winged damselflies are supposed to live in far-away countries or areas that can only be accesed with great difficulty. Now I just come home after work, take my camera and after a short walk over paved streets they are there.

That was last summer. This year they were back. The damselflies I mean. Last summer I made hundreds of photos (most of them not worth keeping). This year I found another spot close by with dragonflies, with other species. So I have divided my attention, resulting in a lot less photos of the Banded Demoiselles. I know that the year is not over yet, but the Banded Demoiselles have had their peak, now there are only a few of them, sometimes.

On one of the days that I visited “my” population, I saw a male Banded Demoiselle sitting in the sun on a leaf. As I approached with my camera it tried to hide, but then it probably made up its mind and decided that I was harmless. It just sat there and it let me photograph it.

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)

After I was finished taking photos, I looked at the damselfy still sitting there, and I said aloud “thank you”. Then I realized it was stupid to say that to an insect. But I meant it anyway.

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