All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

Photographic Techniques by Chris Brooks

Stalking and Positioning

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Stalking

I always think that actually taking these pictures is the easy part. The real art is getting close enough to the subject to take the images in the first place.

A quiet and stealthy technique is required, try the final approach with the camera already positioned in front of your face. This hides the bright facial colours and reduces the movement of bringing the camera up to your eye which can startle a perching subject.

Some species will readily settle at the same perch many times after either being disturbed or as part of their regular patrol. If you can identify such a perch then sit there quietly to see if the subject returns, if it does then you will already be in a good position.

Certain species seem to tolerate a camera's presence better than others. The Golden Ringed Dragonfly being one, which at times seems to take no notice at all. Others like the Brown Hawker or the Black Tailed Skimmer can be very difficult to approach.

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Positioning

By positioning I mean where is it best to take the images from. For example from the side, rear or top down. The answer is that it is best to experiment.

Some species like the Skimmers and Darters point their wings forward while at rest. Top down shots are mostly ineffective in these circumstances, therefore a side view is best; however this creates depth of field issues, which can be challenging.

Most dragonflies perch in the cruxific position, these include the Chasers and Hawkers. Top down shots are the easiest in these circumstances but experiment with different angles, although you will have to accept a compromise on the depth of field. 

Damselflies with the notable exception of the Emerald perch with their wings closed, parallel to their bodies. Side view shots are therefore the norm; however experiment with some really close up shots and you may be rewarded.

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