I'm sure many photographers will agree that when you visit a site for a day which might involve some travelling, that you are often limited by time in which to enjoy studying the dragonflies and trying to get a few photos. I have often traveled to places where I have come away with a number of photos but never 'that' photo which could maybe be achieved with numerous visits to the site. I have mentioned that this year I have been really lucky to have a colony of Southern Migrant Hawkers which have taken up residence at Nethergong on a dried up pool. I have made a few visits where plenty of perched photos have been taken and a good amount of time trying to get a few decent flight shots but I have often thought that there must be a chance of getting my best ever flight shot of this stunning species. As you can imagine, to get any flight shot of a dragonfly in flight requires some luck but as I have often now found out, a number of factors need to be considered. Firstly, an individual that is prepared to tolerate the presence of a human standing quite close while they patrol their territory. Next is watching the movements of the Hawker and making mental notes on where it stops to briefly hover. At this point, it's worth taking a few shots to see what the background will look like should you get a chance of a shot. I then tend to practice very quickly manually focusing on something near and firing off a few shots to see how in focus I was. I find a gentle breeze quite good as it helps them hover and saves them energy but a stronger breeze can be a problem as often the subject is getting moved around too much to follow. If possible try to make sure the sun is behind you but if bright and you have enough speed, you can often get away with this. Be prepared to play with settings as the light changes as this can effect your shots considerably. Then it's just a case of putting this into action and hope the subject gives you enough chances. With practice, you get used to working very quickly as the Hawker flies in, hovers and is then off again. You literally get a few seconds to do a number of jobs so be prepared for many empty shots, blurred shots, bits of body shots and nearly shots. Yesterday, I had a few hours at Nethergong where I found a male Southern Migrant Hawker patrolling a likely area. I really wanted to get the whole body in focus so needed to make sure that the subject was perpendicular to the lens. This often involves having to make minor adjustments when they hover but after a few nearly shots, the Hawker flew in and hovered quite close to me in a perfect position. I was on it like a flash and before I had even focused properly, was firing away as I moved the dragonfly into focus. Eventually, I had the focus I wanted and just kept on firing away. I suppose this whole episode lasted about 7 seconds but looking back at the camera, I was pretty pleased with what I saw. Having now edited them, I am indeed really pleased with these shots and I think they well maybe the best flights shots I have achieved to date, especially of this species. It just goes to show that with repeated trips, some knowledge building and a little skill and luck, that those shots we often dream of in our minds can be achieved.