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Posts Tagged ‘Erpetogomphus designatus’

What is the best way to photograph a dragonfly that perches low to the ground? How can you create an image in which the dragonfly is not lost amidst the clutter of the vegetation? That was the challenge that fellow dragonfly enthusiast Walter Sanford and I faced last Monday when we journeyed to Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Virginia  in search of Eastern Ringtail dragonflies (Erpetogomphus designatus).

Walter has a lot of experience with dragonflies and knew where to find Eastern Ringtails in the park. He knew, for example, that they like to perch on a section of concrete aggregate and indeed we spotted one not long after we arrived. Walter likes to maximize the chance of getting the entire dragonfly in focus by shooting downwards, ideally from as close to overhead as possible. For him, the concrete background is uncluttered and allows him to capture all of details of the dragonfly.

Although I prefer to photograph dragonflies on natural vice manmade surfaces, I took some photos, including the third one below, while the dragonfly was on the concrete—you have to shoot when the opportunity arises and I was not confident that I could wait for the dragonfly to choose a better perch. Rather than shooting from above when the dragonfly is on the ground, I usually choose to get down with the dragonfly.

Eventually I was able to get some shots of Eastern Ringtails perched in the grass. The middle image shows the dragonfly tilting its head to look towards me as I photographed it. I like the pose, but I was not fully satisfied. Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I like to get as close to a dragonfly as it will let me. The initial photo of this posting was one of my final shots of my session with the Eastern Ringtails and it is probably my favorite.

I began this post with a question and feel like I owe you a response. In reality, there is no “best” way to photograph a dragonfly on the ground, but my preferred option is to get low to the ground and close to the subject so that I am able to focus on part of the dragonfly, hopefully the eyes, and blur out the background because of the shallow depth of field when shooting that close. If you would like to see Walter’s wonderful photos of Eastern Ringtails from the same trip, I encourage you to check out his blog postings Eastern Ringtail reunion, continued and  Reconnecting with Eastern Ringtail. Those postings provide his visual response to the question that I posed.

Eastern Ringtail

 

 

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I spotted this beautiful female Eastern Ringtail dragonfly (Erpetogomphus designatus) last week along the Potomac River while exploring Great Falls Park. Unlike some of the dragonflies that I have photographed recently that perched at the very tips of tall stems, this species likes to perch in vegetation relatively low to the ground. As a result, the background in this image is a little more cluttered than I prefer.

If you double click on the image, you will see the image in greater detail, including its marvelous multi-colored eyes and the wonderful colors and patterns on its body.

Eastern Ringtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past week I was excited to see several Eastern Ringtail dragonflies (Erpetogomphus designatus) while exploring Riverbend Park in Great Falls, Virginia. This species is relatively uncommon in our area and I had only encountered one once before at a location in Maryland. Fellow dragonfly enthusiast and photographer Walter Sanford had alerted me to the presence of these dragonflies at the park and their location, so I was fairly confident that I would be able to find some of them. (With wildlife photography there are few guarantees—you can never be sure how long a species will remain at a given location, particularly when it comes to insects like dragonflies that have a limited season.)

Well, I managed to find some Eastern Ringtails and was faced with the challenge of how to photograph them. The bad news was that this species likes to perch on the ground, but the good news was that the ground on which they chose to perch was uncluttered—it was a boat ramp made of some kind of aggregate concrete. The background of these shots is not natural, but it does allow you to see some of the beautiful details of this stunning dragonfly, especially their spectacular blue eyes.

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I really enjoy photographing familiar subjects, but there is still something really special about finding new ones, like this female Eastern Ringtail dragonfly (Erpetogomphus designatus) that I stumbled upon yesterday during a photo excursion with some friends to Adamstown, Maryland.

The goal of our visit was to explore Lilypons Water Gardens, a large facility that specializes in all kinds of aquatic plants and includes a series of interlocking ponds with waterlilies and lotuses. I suspected that there would be lots of dragonflies and I was not disappointed.

While my friends were photographing the flowers, I started walking along the barely trampled paths that had knee-high grass and other vegetation. Most of the dragonflies that I spotted were familiar friends: Widow Skimmers, Eastern Pondhawks, Slaty Skimmers, Common Whitetails, and Blue Dashers, but a couple that I saw immediately struck me as being new and different.

The very colorful and distinctive rings on the abdomen of today’s featured dragonfly, the Eastern Ringtail, really attracted my attention and somehow reminded me of the photos I had seen of a coral snake. Fortunately the dragonfly, unlike the snake, is not poisonous. I chased the dragonfly for quite a while but never managed to get a shot of it with an uncluttered background—it kept perching on vegetation low to the ground.

When I returned home, I didn’t have a clue where to start with identification, because I hadn’t gotten some of the kind of diagnostic shots that I need, as relative neophyte, to identify a dragonfly. So I did what I usually do in cases like this—I contacted Walter Sanford, my local dragonfly expert. He tentatively identified it as a female Eastern Ringtail and another expert in the Northeast Odonata Facebook group agreed with Walter.

I’m pretty happy with my newest dragonfly find, a species I might have trouble finding again. According to the Maryland Biodiversity Project, the Eastern Ringtail is designated S2, which means that it is rare in the state of Maryland.

 

Eastern Ringtail

Eastern Ringtail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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