02-21-2013   1 comment

With winter seeming to drag on endlessly I decided to spend time today working with my photographs.  I currently have almost fifteen thousand photos taken over the last five years that need to be properly sorted, filed, and backed up.  It’ a tedious and time consuming process but absolutely necessary when dealing with these large numbers of pictures.

It’s a chore that  I really enjoy and it gives me an opportunity to again relive when I took them and in many cases why I took them.  The last two summers I’ve been involved photographing a subject I just love, dragonflies.  Dragonflies have become one of my all time passions due to their delicacy and beauty.  I purchased a great lens about five years ago and it’s primarily used to take macro photo’s.  These photo’s are so detailed you’re able to see the segmented wings and the gorgeous colors like never before.

In a local area nearby I found a small isolated pond that teems with dragonflies of all types and colors.  I spent many hours sitting near the swampy end of that pond amongst the cattails observing the dragonflies and attempting to identify the many types I was seeing.  They’re very curious and upon my arrival they normally swarmed around me to see what I was doing. Getting them to pose for photo’s was difficult at best because they almost never stop moving.  It was frustrating to say the least and it required me to study up on the species in an attempt to solve that problem.

They live in a larva stage in the water of ponds often for years where they’re able to prey on small fish to survive. The winged stage is very short and is for mating, egg laying, mosquito eating, and then death.  They’ve been around in one form or another for millions of years and have slowly evolved into these smaller versions of the originals.  Fossils have been found with dragonflies more than two feet long.

I did discover that many of the smaller ones I photographed were not actually dragonflies but damselflies.  Dragonflies have huge eyes that touch each other but the damselflies eyes are separated and they’re much smaller.  They come in a number of vivid colors but the ones I see most often are an electric blue.  Both species as I mentioned earlier are very curious and militantly territorial.  They spend their entire lives looking for food and fighting to maintain those territories whether in the water or out.  They’re what you might call scrappy.

I needed to find a way to get them to sit still for a few seconds. Taking their photographs in flight while OK wasn’t giving me the detail that I needed.  I first took a small piece of gum and attached it to the end of a reed sticking up in the swamp.  They did land occasionally on those reeds and it appeared they were resting or possibly sunning themselves.  No luck with that strategy, they landed for a second and then were gone. I next tried a drop of sugar water on the reed and had some successes but still not what I was looking for. Eventually I found an ant, squished it, and then placed a piece of it on the end of the reed.  Bingo, they landed and stayed for  a few seconds longer than usual and I began to get some great pictures.

Over the next two months I took some truly amazing photographs.  Once they determined I wasn’t a threat they forgot about me completely and came close with little or no fear.  If you’d like to give it a try you’ll  certainly need a great deal of patience and a supply of ants.

Well, back to the computer to finish up my sorting.  I’m starting to get a small jolt  of spring fever and excited for warm weather so I can get back to the swamp.

Posted February 22, 2013 by Every Useless Thing in Just Saying

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One response to “02-21-2013

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  1. I thought ants were toxic to Dragonflies??? I don’t know just say’n….

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