Been slow for dragonflies this summer - too cool, too wet. But the fields are verdant green even now in August… Here are two Halloween Pennants. There is a field in Allegan that in recent years has been a sure bet for these and the somewhat similar Calico Pennant. The name - Halloween Pennant - comes from the males who can take on a bright orange and black coloration, the colors of Halloween, of course. This first image suggests that the most. To be honest, I see very few that are actually orange and black.
Click on the images for a larger picture.
I am still working on stack focusing dragonflies in the field. So far, this has been a frustrating experience. Stack focusing in Photoshop is a great tool, but the program gets confused by the delicate wings of the dragonflies - which, of course, never stay still. And then those dragons just can’t resist bobbing their heads around as the behold the world around then and contemplate their kingdom.
Well - yesterday I spent a few hours in the Allegan Forest in some fields north of the river. There was swarming with blue dashers and I made a lot of conventional portraits and took a lot of images that I hoped to stack together. I am working through the many gigabytes of files that I took, and so far have done nothing with the conventional portraits- but here are best of the stacked shots I’ve gotten so far.
I am a perfectionist and if you look at these closely you will see that all have imperfections. In addition, I have not figured out how to get flash on all of the stacked shots - since they are taken inthe matter of a second or two and the flash cannot charge fast enough to keep up. That means that the subjects are not as well lit as they would be with flash - and while there are lots of Photoshop tricks to compensate for that, there is no substitute for actual light on the actual subject at the time of exposure….
But - we’ll get there.
These were all taken with a Pentax K-5 and A* 200mm macro, hand held with support from a monopod.
This first one is the probably the most successful shot so far - 18 image staked with little or no distortion or haloing in the in the wings. (It seems to be pretty easy to get the head and body to stack nicely - the meshing in the wings, plus the fact that the wings shift with the breeze, introduces challenges with them.) Click on each image for a larger file.
Another shot of the same subject showing the kinds of issues that come up. Note the halo-ing on the dragonfly’s right wing. By the way - the nice colors in the background are wild bee balm in in bloom.
More to come. I need to continue to work on technique here and somehow figure out how to lull the dragonflies into greater complacency… What a task!
I’ve been shooting a lot of B&W 35mm film these days and last weekend I though I’d shoot out my last roll of Kodak HIE High Speed Infrared film. This has been sitting in the deep freeze for some time - expired in February 2009 - and it seemed to be time to use it. SO I loaded it into the trusty Pentax LX and screwed a deep red filter onto the FA 20-35mm f4 lens.
Here are the best two shots of the roll. I have to confess that I am a little disappointed - I had hoped that the last roll of this great film would result in something really interesting, but not…
Well - at least the film seemed to be fine even 4+ years out of date. I shot it at ISO 200, bracketed most of the shots, and developed in Rodinal 1:50 for 15 minutes. (The Rodinal is probably about as old as the film.) It was definitely too dense and over developed which puzzles me, since I’ve used that developer and time frequently in the past. Vuescan’s multiple exposure setting (formerly long exposure pass) saved the highlights, even though each batch of 12 exposures took many hours to scan.
So - this film is gone for me. I have some Rollie IR that is also getting old that I need to burn up, and somewhere here I have some old odd-ball IR surveillance film that someone sent me a few years back that I need to use as well, plus there’s some rolls of 120 SFX down in that deep freeze… So I guess my IR film days are not totally over, but my time with HIE is finished.
Here are a couple of dragonflies and one damselfly from a trip to the Allegan forest yesterday. Click on any image for a larger file.
First - what I think is a Carolina Saddlebags, though the Red Saddlebags is very similar. I do not see the large “window” in the saddlebag on the wings that the Red would typically have, so my guess is the Carolina.
Here is another shot, not as good, but that shows the coloration on the face and wings a little better:
And then a common 12 Spotted Skimmer, which were out in abundance over the pond I was visiting:
Lastly, some sort of Bluet Damselfly. I used a different technique for this shot and focus stacked 16 separate images together to get better depth of field. I have not tried this in the field before, and it actually seemed to work pretty well: