Monday, 25 July 2016

Banded Demoiselle at Sunrise

Having watched a pair of Barn Owls in recent weeks hunting locally, I become aware that in the stream nearby, there were a number of Banded Demoiselles flying. Having watched them to go to roost on a few evenings, I decided that I would like to take the opportunity to see if I could photograph them at sunrise, ideally producing a set of images with the Demoiselle and sun both together. In order for this to work I spent some time looking where the sun would rise early morning and suitable perches that would work in the photo. The next few evenings were spent watching them to going to roost and on one evening, a male Banded Demoiselle landed on a convenient perch with its wings open allowing me to rattle off a few shots. I would have liked to have produced a few better images but I was quite pleased with the result.

Male Banded Demoiselle at Sunset

Before I left on Friday night, I managed to find a female Banded Demoiselle after sunset roosting and carefully placed her on one of my chosen perches. I just hoped that she would remain there overnight and that if the weather forecast was correct, that I would have an opportunity to photograph a cracking sunrise with the Demoiselle. Saturday morning and I was up at 3.45am and driving over to Nethergong where after getting all the gear ready, I was soon set up. The good news was that I could see the Demoiselle still in place and even better, there was some dew on her and a spider had made a web on the grass, slightly bending it over and adding to the effect. As I could see the horizon start to light up as the sun started to rise, I started firing off a number of shots, changing my position every now and then to put the sun into a different position in the photo.

Female Banded Demoiselle at Sunrise

The colours through the viewfinder were superb and on some occasions, I had to rest, such was the brightness of the sun. It wasn't long until the sun gained height and my time was over but I sat back in the grass for a while and reviewed the shots on the camera. I was pretty pleased with some of the initial results and having worked through and processed some now, I think I may have achieved what I set out to do and there are a number of photos I am really chuffed with. I may have another go at this as I think it produces some superb photo opportunities and to be out photographing such an event early morning is a real priviledge.  

Female Banded Demoiselle at Sunrise

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Emeralds in the Grass

I had an early start this morning at Nethergong where at 4am, I was arriving on site to be greeted by a mist for the first time in a while. With no wind as well, this was perfect conditions for dew to form and I hoped I could capitalise on this by photographing a few dewy dragonflies. However, despite the good conditions and lots of searching, I failed to find any to photograph as they remained well hidden from me. What was annoying was later on when it warmed up, they were seen happily appearing from the areas where I searched earlier. I spent a few hours walking the circuit where the highlight was a first for the Nethergong site where I found 2 Emerald Damselfly, a male and female within a metre of each other. I was rather surprised to see these here and not sure if they have bred nearby and have found there way here by the maze of streams or perhaps they occur here in small numbers. Either way, I was chuffed to have found them and set about getting a few images of them. The female flew deeper into cover but the male posed nicely for a few shots with some turning out quite nicely.

Emerald Damselfly (male)

I will have to look a bit better in this area to see if there are indeed anymore lurking. Moving on I noted 2 Brown Hawker, 1 Black tailed Skimmer, 1 Ruddy Darter, c10 Common Darter, a few Azure and Blue tailed Damselfly but no sign as of yet of any Willow Emerald Damselfly which have occured here in good numbers for the past 2 years. Hopefully they will appear soon. A pleasant session made all the better by finding the Emerald Damselfly and weather permitting tomorrow morning, I will try to get out early to see if I can capture a dragonfly and sunrise shot. A bit of planning required but hopefully I will get lucky. 

Emerald Damselfly (male)

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Photographing in My Sleep!

Having spent some time last weekend photographing dewy Banded Demoiselles early morning at Nethergong, I was keen to try and improve on the images if I could so on Wednesday evening just before dark, I arrived at Nethergong where I searched for a male Banded Demoiselle. I soon found a roosting individual and with a pot of reeds already in position nearby, I removed the Demoiselle and placed it on the reeds where I hoped it would spend the night. The plan was to get up early the next morning at 4am, drive to Nethergong, spend an hour photographing and then be back home in bed by 6am for an hour before I got up. A pretty mad plan but if you want the results, you have got to get out there. I woke up this morning at 3.30am where after getting dressed quickly, I was soon on my way. Despite the warm evenings, there has been plenty of dew on show early morning and with little or no wind, my chances were even better. I pulled up a few minutes later and was soon wanting to see if my target was still in position, it was. Even better that it was shining beautifully with dew and I got a bit of a soaking getting into position for some shots. At this time of day, there is not much light so I tend to use manual mode, ISO 400, f8 - f11 and in camera flash. This gives the desired light but with the dew, the flash can be quite harsh and can produce photos that do not look that appealing. I opted to use the tripod and spent the next 45 minutes or so taking a number of images of this stunning natural sight. With a few shots in the bag, it was back home and I was tucked up in bed for 6am for an hour. Having processed the shots, I am quite pleased with them but feel that I can still do better with them. I would like to be in a position where I can photograph them without the flash and with the sun on them and do I dare say, have the sunrise in the shot, now that would be nice. I will continue with this project if I can make the time and hopefully continue to learn a little each session. Hopefully the weekend will deliver the next chance for an early start.

Banded Demoiselle (male)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Willow Emerald Damselflies Emerge

As mentioned in yesterday post, I made a visit mid morning to the stream at Marshside where the Willow Emerald Damselfly can be seen. I had made a few visits in the past week or so to search for them without success so it was very rewarding to find 7 teneral Willow Emerald Damselfly, most having just emerged I suspect that morning and making their maiden flights. It was interesting that 6 of them were female and only 1 male were noted as I thought the males would emerge slightly earlier? As most were resting up preparing to fly off to the hedges on the other side of the road, this made photography a little bit easier and I was able to get a number of pleasing images of them. I just love the freshness of the wings and the rainbow effect that can sometimes be seen as the light catches the wings. They can be a tricky subject to photograph I find, trying to get the whole damselfly in focus with such a long abdomen can be a challenge at times. Most of them moved off to the tall hedges where they will mature up which gave me a chance to look in the reeds where I saw them come from and was pleased to find 2 Willow Emerald exuviae which I carefully removed for some photos at home. Hopefully the next few weeks will see a good emergence of them here and in other local sites around the area and no doubt, I will be paying visits every now and then to monitor their numbers and to improve on the photos. 

Teneral female Willow Emerald Damselfly

With some time on my hands this morning, I spent a while going through some more of yesterdays dewy Banded Demoiselle shots and found a few more pleasing efforts.

'Dewy' male Banded Demoiselle

Still unfinished business I think with these and i'm sure I can make some slight improvements on them but for a first attempt with them, I must say, I am pretty pleased. With some nice warm weather predicted for the week ahead, maybe a visit after work during the week to see whats about on the odonata front.