As mentioned in a few previous posts, I have received a few emails asking what kind of set up I use to photograph the dragonfly and damselfly nymphs indoors. With the season slowly getting closer, I decided a couple of years a go that I would pass the winter months away and try to photograph some of the nymphs of the dragonflies and damselflies that live local to me in east Kent. I looked at a few sites on the internet and set about trying to get a small tank which would host the nymphs. It was important not to get something to big and that I was photographing through glass as this would get a far better image than through plastic. I thankfully found the ideal tank which also hosted a small LED light on top which could also be used to photograph at night, little did I know, a real bonus. The glass lid that come with the tank was used to partition the tank so that the subject could be moved near to the front of the glass and that I didn't have the problem of having to keep moving the nymph around. The nearer the subject to the front of the glass, the better quality of image can be obtained as you tend to lose the quality the further back you photograph through the glass and water.
A few stones are added which I sometimes add a bit of pond weed into and positioned against the glass and sometimes a few soaked leaves to add more natural colours. Its then a case of adding the nymph and teasing it into position which depending on the species, can be easy to hard. One major point that needs to be considered is the glass needs to be cleaned and checked regularly otherwise any marks on the glass will be picked up and can ruin the shots.
I tend to change the water every few days and let it settle for a couple of days before introducing and nymphs so that the chlorine content can diminish and with the combination of this and the clean glass, this gives good opportunities to get the shots I desire. As can be seen in the shots, I use a Canon 7d SLR and most shots are taken on the tripod to prevent and hand shake. If its really sunny in the conservatory when i'm out there photographing, I may try and use AV mode, f8, ISO 400 and hope I can get a good speed when shooting but more often than not, I use manaul mode, ISO 400, f8-f16, speed set to 250 and in camera flash.
It may be me but I feel that I have slightly better results when photographing at night in the dark conservatory. Using the LED tank light in combination with the in camera flash produced some lovely lighting and so far, the results have been quite pleasing.
So thats roughly it. I'm sure there are improvements to be made and hopefully I can work these out as I continue to photograph these amazing insects that spend most of their lives underwater out of view from most of us. There are still many species I am to find and photograph in the tank and the challenges will keep me going until the season arrives in early April when the first Large Red Damselflies emerge. In the mean time, if you decide to have a go yourself at photographing nymphs in an indoor tank, I hope some of this information will be of help.