Posts Tagged ‘hovering’

It’s tough to photograph a dragonfly in flight, but when it chooses to hover, there is a slightly better chance of getting a shot. That was the case recently when I encountered this female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) that was in the process of depositing her eggs in the water. As her mate circled overhead, the female dragonfly would hover over the water and then periodically dip the tip of her tail in the water before returning to the hovering position. I was able to get several images of the hovering dragonfly, but got only a single image of her depositing the eggs.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How can you photographing a dragonfly while it is flying? As we have moved into dragonfly season, I have been thinking a lot about that question and earlier this week, I had some success in getting images of a female Blue Dasher dragonfly that I believe was ovipositing.


Last year, I was content to photograph perched dragonflies (and still love to do so) and occasionally would capture one as it was leaving a perch. This year I am challenging myself and am actively seeking out opportunities to follow dragonflies with my lens and, if possible, to catch them in motion. They are so agile in flight, that the challenge is somewhat daunting. I have experimented with auto focusing and manual focusing. I have tried pre-focusing on an area and waiting and hoping a dragonfly would fly into it. I have had my best luck so far when I can catch the dragonfly as it is hovering.

This female Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) approached this little clump of vegetation several times and would begin to hover. Then she would bend her tail forward and move it rapidly back-and-forth for a few seconds, which I think meant that she was laying eggs.


I am definitely not an expert on dragonfly behavior and may be totally wrong about what she was doing. However, from a purely photographic point of view, this offered my best chance of getting some shots of this dragonfly in flight. As I recall, I got my best shots when focusing manually and snapping as many shots as I could when it looked like things were coming into focus.


The Blue Dasher female (and you’ve probably noticed that the females of this species are not blue, despite their name) flew away and returned several times, but eventually was done with her business. I am continuing to observe the different species of dragonflies and hope to identify the types of behavior they exhibit that will maximize the chance of me getting some more shots like these ones.

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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