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Posts Tagged ‘Libellula semifasciata’

This has been a crazy year in so many different ways, including for dragonfly hunting. I post images almost every day, so I may provide the mistaken impression that I am out shooting every day. In fact, I have been staying at home a lot more and have been generally limiting my photography forays to a couple of times a week, supplemented by periodic trips to my neighbor’s garden to photograph flowers.

As a result, I have not seen some of “the usual suspects,” i.e. the dragonflies that I am used to seeing every year. I was quite excited when I spotted this female Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) during a visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, because I had not seen this species this season. You may have noticed that I really like dragonflies with patterned wings—I think that those patterns at an extra dimension to their beauty.

Dragonflies tend to be distracted when they are eating, which sometimes lets me get a little closer for a photograph. You can’t help but notice that this Painted Skimmer is feeding on some kind of insect with a bright red body. It looks a little like some kind of wasp or similar insect, though I really am not sure what it is.

I had no idea that “The Usual Suspects” was the name of a 1995 movie starring Stephen Baldwin and Kevin Spacey, so folks of a younger generation may associate those words with that movie. For me, however, “the usual suspects” will forever be a reference to a line in Casablanca, my absolutely favorite movie. If you are unfamiliar with the movie and would like to see the full line “round up the usual suspects” in its original context or simply want to relive that movie moment, check out this short clip from YouTube.

Painted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I remember reading an article once with tips on photographing butterflies. The article suggested that you photograph only the butterflies in perfect condition, the ones with no signs of aging, no faded colors, and no tattered wings.

I personally don’t believe in following that advice. Life can be really tough for the tiny creatures that I like to photograph (and for us two-legged creatures too) and I don’t mind at all when my photographs capture the effects of some of life’s struggles. As some of my friends are fond of saying, we have earned our wrinkles.

This past weekend I visited Huntley Meadows Park, a local marshland park that used to be my absolute favorite place to take photographs. In some ways it is a victim of its own success. Lots of photographers now flock to the park to photograph the wildlife there. I prefer, however, for my wildlife viewing to be more of a solitary pursuit than a group activity, so increasingly I have been spending my time in other local spots.

While at the park I spotted this beautiful Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata). Its wings are a bit tattered and somehow it seems appropriate that its perch shows some spider webs. Yet I couldn’t help but feel how confidently this little dragonfly perched on the tip of the vegetation, boldly displaying its faded beauty to the world.

The composition is simple, as is the message—true beauty is not about perfection.

 

Painted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most dragonflies have clear wings and different colors and patterns on their bodies. Some dragonflies, however, have patterns on their wings too that I think really accentuates their beauty and makes them particularly striking.

The first shot below shows a female Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) that I spotted in mid-May at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The second shot shows a male Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) that I spotted in late May at a small pond in Prince William County in Northern Virginia.

Calico Pennant

Painted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Painted Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula semifasciata) have distinctive patterns on their wings that make them fairly easy to identify. Unlike the pennant dragonflies that I have featured recently, Painted Skimmers have chunkier bodies and tend to perch lower down on the stems of the vegetation. I spotted this slightly damaged female Painted Skimmer yesterday as I was exploring some of the back areas of Huntley Meadows Park. There were a lot of blackberry bushes nearby with plenty of sharp thorns, so I wonder if they were responsible for the damage to the dragonfly’s wings—I drew blood a few times when I got too close to the thorns, but fortunately I am not missing a chunk of me.

Painted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The sunlight shining through from behind helped to highlight the beautiful colors and patterns of this Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) at Huntley Meadows Park this past Monday. Although I usually try to get more even lighting in my shots, I really like the way that this directional lighting has created areas of brightness and shadow, which seems to add a bit of drama to the image.

Painted Skimmer
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the delicate beauty of dragonflies and they can be spectacular, especially in dramatic lighting and from unusual angles, like these recent shots of a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata).

Painted Skimmer

Painted Skimmer

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I can’t get over the beauty of the dragonflies, especially this early in the season. On Monday, I spotted this beautiful male Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) at a tiny pool (which was really more like a puddle) at my local marshland park.

The colors and pattern of the wings make this species quite distinctive and pretty easy to identify. The striking beauty of the Painted Skimmer has also attracted the attention of several other photographers in this area.

I personally love to see how others choose to photograph similar subjects. If you want to see more beautiful images of Painted Skimmers, check out recent postings by Walter Sanford and Joel Eagle. Each of us was presented with a similar dragonfly in different circumstances and made a series of creative choices to produce our individual portraits of this almost magical creature.

Painted Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Colorful dragonflies are gradually reappearing throughout my local marshland park and I’m reacquiring the skills needed to photograph them. For me, the amazing beauty of dragonflies is especially revealed when I manage to observe them up close. I can’t help but marvel at the incredible details of their eyes and their wings and even their delicate feet and the tiny hairs that sprout on their faces.

I spotted this dragonfly, which I believe is a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata), last Friday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. The dragonfly allowed me to get quite close to be able to take this macro shot. In general, some dragonfly species tend to be less skittish than others, but it seems to vary from individual to individual.

Be sure to click on the image to get a higher resolution view of this beautiful little creature.

Painted Skimmer dragonfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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My breathing stopped for a moment on Monday when I first caught sight of the colors and patterns of this beautiful dragonfly, a species that I had never seen before.  The dragonfly was flying around near a drainage area just off one of the main trails at my local marshland park. Fortunately for me, the dragonfly landed and I was able to move in pretty close to investigate.

This dragonfly reminded me a little of a Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), a gorgeous species with orange veins and brown patches on its wings, but I was pretty certain that this was a different kind of dragonfly. (For comparison, check out my posting on the Halloween Pennant from August 2012 with one of the best photos that I have taken of any dragonfly.)

I am no expert on dragonfly identification, but the wing pattern here is distinctive and I have concluded that this is probably a Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata). Not long ago, a friend introduced me to a wonderful resource for dragonflies in my area, a website on Dragonflies of Northern Virginia that is run by Kevin Munroe, the manager of Huntley Meadows Park, the marsh where I take many of my nature photographs, including this one. Here is a link to the portion of that website that covers the Painted Skimmer, including identification features and other fascinating bits of information.

As I maneuvered around composing this shot, I realized how tricky it is to get the proper depth of field for a dragonfly, especially if I want to have the face visible. In this case, the two wings closest to the camera are in focus and the wings farther away are out of focus, along with the background.

dragon_veined_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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