Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Highlight of the Holidays

Well its back to teaching tomorrow but having had a nice few weeks off, I thought I would look back at my highlight of the summer holidays as far as seeing and photographing dragonflies. Ironically, the highlight come in the first week off when news broke at Wat Tyler Country Park in Essex that the rare Southern Migrant Hawker dragonfly was on the wing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past few years looking at photos of this species on the internet and hoped one day, I would be able to see one and if I was lucky, maybe obtain a photo or two. Little did I know that on the 31st July, I was going to be be treated not only to great views of this dragonfly but also time to study and capture some photos of this striking species. Hopefully they will slowly spread in the UK in the next few years but whether I will ever get a better opportunity to see and photograph them remains to be seen. What I do know is that I too, now have a very pleasing set of images of this stunning dragonfly.

Southern Migrant Hawker (male)

Monday, 31 August 2015

What To Do On A Rainy Bank Holiday?

With it being Bank Holiday, the traditional day of heavy rain duly arrived and with no chance of getting out, I decided to have a look through some photos taken of my sunrise shots and see how they worked in black and white. I have only a basic understanding of how to make them black and white but after having a play around, I ended up with some images which I think work alright and catch some of the features well in a different light. It at least past some time and kept me occupied for a while. Hopefully a few sunny days will return soon.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Up For Sunrise

The weather forecast suggested clear skies, bright sunshine and no wind early on this morning so with this I decided to get up early and see if I could capture a damselfly at sunrise photo like I did last year. I had been down the night before just before they roosted and saw where a few of them were so this morning at 5.30am, I was out of the house and arrived a few minutes later. The weather looked very good with no wind, clear skies except for an annoying line of cloud where the sun was to rise so with this I set up and looked for a likely damselfly. I soon found an individual on the high mound roosting and set up around it and made sure the camera settings were all correct. Although there was not much light at this hour, I opted to use AV mode, ISO 400 and hoped that when the sun started to rise, I would get enough speed. At about 5.55am, the sun started to rise and I started firing off a number of shots trying to capture the damselfly and the sun together. There didn't appear to be much red/orange in the sky this morning but I ended up with a few usable images but I think with the right sky and conditions, I can make some improvements quite easily.

Common Blue Damselfly at Sunrise

I spent the next few hours wandering around where I saw c15 Emperor Dragonfly, hundreds of Common Darter in tandem ovipositing over the water, good numbers of Ruddy Darter, Small Red eyed, Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselfly, c10 Migrant Hawker and a few Black tailed Skimmer. I did try for a few Migrant Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly flight photos but without much success so I will be back again soon to improve on what I have taken so far if I can. With the temperature getting warmer by the minute, I made my way back home for a drink and late breakfast and ended another very nice session.

Common Blue Damselfly at Sunrise

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Date With The Emperor!

With the forecast looking good today with warm sunshine and light winds, I had a few hours out where I visited a few sites to see what was about and hopefully a photographic opportunity would come my way. I started off spending a few hours at a site near Reculver where I saw good numbers of Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselfly along with Common Emerald Damselfly, a few Black tailed Skimmer and hundreds of Common Darter in tandem over the water. A look for Migrant Hawker produced 4 individuals and there were good numbers of Ruddy Darter. I stood watching for a while on some higher ground where I saw good numbers of Emperor Dragonfly involved in keeping territories and chasing rivals away. It was here that I decided on today's challenge of trying to get a decent image of an Emperor Dragonfly in flight, something that has really eluded me so far this year. For once, rather than just pick a random individual, I looked at which way the wind was coming from and made my way round the water so the at the wind was blowing at my back. In this way I hoped that I would find an Emperor Dragonfly hovering into the wind which would give me the chance I wanted. After a brief scan, I found a willing target working a small area of water and got into good position. I spent the next hour taking a good number of photos from different distances but occasionally he would come in quite close enabling me to grab a few pleasing shots. It certainly worked I think with the wind making the Emperor hover nicely and these are by far my best images I have of this species in flight. I then moved on visiting two more sites where I noted 10 Willow Emerald Damselfly, 1 Brown Hawker, 1 Southern Hawker as well as a few more Emperor and Migrant Hawker. A great session again in nice weather and all the more pleasing to have captured some very pleasing shots, mission accomplished!

Emperor Dragonfly (male)