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Posts Tagged ‘Slaty Skimmer dragonfly’

There were only a few lotuses in bloom on Thursday at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, but they were more than sufficient to sate my senses. How much beauty is “enough?”

Increasingly I am finding that I enjoy beauty in small doses. So many voices in our society try to convince us that we need “more,” when perhaps “less” is even better, especially when we slow down and take the time to explore and appreciate that beauty.

I love the layers of  petals of the lotus flower; the details of the center of the lotus, revealed when the petals open up and begin to shrivel; and the promise of future beauty in the lotus bud on which the Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) had chosen to perch.

Sometimes when searching for beauty, it is more beneficial to search deeply, focusing on a few things, than to search widely, always looking for something newer and better.

lotus

lotus

slaty skimmer on lotus bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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As many of you know, I love trying to capture images of dragonflies in flight. This Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) cooperated by periodically hovering a bit during a recent trip that I made to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The first two images show you some of the details of the dragonfly’s body, including the way it tucks in its legs when in flight, and the final image gives you a wider view of the environment in which I was shooting.

Slaty Skimmer

slaty skimmer

slaty skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the dark, slate-blue tones of the male Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta), one of the most common dragonflies in our area.  The beauty of this handsome Slaty Skimmer was further enhanced by the colorful backdrop that I managed to capture this past Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

It is hard to come up with a composition that is more basic—beauty can often be found in simplicity.

Slaty Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When they are immature, the males and females of many dragonfly species are very similar in coloration. To make matters worse, immature dragonflies of several different species are also similar in appearance, with only subtle differences to distinguish one species from another, like the color of the upper portions of their legs.

As a result, I am not really sure of my identification of this particular dragonfly. I lean towards it being an immature male Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), but it might instead be a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). (The adults of these two species, by contrast, are very different in appearance and would never be mistaken for each other.)

Whatever the case, I love the two-toned eyes and overall body position of this beautiful dragonfly. It might be my imagination, but it seemed to me that the dragonfly had tilted its head a bit to check me out.

Great Blue Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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With most of my dragonfly shots, I try to get as close as I can to the dragonfly, either my moving or by zooming, in order to highlight my subject. If I am not able to do so, I will often crop the image during post-processing.

Sometimes, though, I will intentionally keep my distance and will carefully compose the image to include more environmental elements. That was the case yesterday during a quick trip to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens with my photography mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy needed to drop off some prints at the gift shop and I had a few minutes to grab a few shots.

Dragonfly perches generally are not very interesting, often just dried-out branches sticking out of the water. I was excited, therefore, when I spotted a male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) perching on a purple Pickerelweed plant (Pontederia cordata).  I positioned myself to capture an additional pickerelweed plant in the background, pretty sure that it would be out of focus and not be too distracting. The cool colors and the sinuous curves of the plants in the background combine to create an “artsy” image that I really like.

 

Slaty Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) seemed to covet a prime perching position yesterday at Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield, Virginia and took action to try to dislodge the Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that was occupying the perch.

The Blue Dasher was successful and occupied the top position for a little while, but eventually the larger Slaty Skimmer resumed the position at the top and the Blue Dasher was relegated to a lower spot on the plant.

Coming in for the attack

Coming in for the attack

The attack

The attack

Temporarily on top

Temporarily on top

battle4_blog

Relegated to the bottom

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I love the juxtaposition of natural and man-made elements in this shot of a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) perched recently on a piece of rebar sticking out of the water at Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge.

The colors and shape enhance the visual contrast between the two primary elements in this very graphic and simple composition. Photography doesn’t always have to be complicated to be effective—I need that reminder from time to time.

Slaty Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Are you attracted to dark-eyed beauties? If so, you would have loved this Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that flew directly toward me and hovered in mid-air while appearing to check me out this past weekend at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge.

On his Dragonflies of Northern Virginia website, dragonfly expert Kevin Munroe offered two explanations for this kind of behavior by Slaty Skimmer dragonflies. It is possible that these dragonflies are exceptionally curious, if not actually friendly. However, he suggested, it is more likely that this dragonfly was exhibiting territorial aggression toward a perceived intruder.

After a few seconds of staring at me, the dragonfly turned and flew away, ready to fight off other intruders and search for a potential mate.

Slaty Skimmer

Slaty Skimmer

 

Slaty Skimmer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday I visited Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. for the annual Lotus and Water Lily Festival and I was thrilled to be able to get some of my favorite kind of dragonfly images—dragonflies perched on the buds of colorful flowers. Generally I manage to get shots only of the Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), but this time I was also able to get a shot of a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) on a lotus flower bud.

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher on purple water lily bud

Slaty Skimmer

Slaty Skimmer on lotus bud

Blue Dasher

Blue Dasher on water lily bud

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It’s prime season now for dragonflies and there are lots of them flying about. Some are brightly colored and gaudy, while others, like this Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) that I encountered Tuesday at Huntley Meadows Park, have a more subdued and refined beauty.

I have been experimenting a bit with lenses and with camera settings as I chase after dragonflies. Although I often use my macro lens for this kind of shot, I took this one at 270mm of my 70-300mm telephoto zoom. I have been told that most telephoto lenses are a little soft at their extreme ends, so I pulled back a little from 300mm. Similarly, I shot this at f/10 to try to get a balance between sharpness and depth of field, while keeping the shutter speed high enough for me to easily handhold the camera.

Most of the time I use evaluative metering on my camera, but for most of my shots on Tuesday, I had the camera set for spot metering. In doing so, I realized quickly that I had to pay a lot more attention to the precise spot on which I was focusing, because that was going to play a disproportionate role in determining the exposure.

I realize, of course, that a lot of the choices will be situationally dependent, but it’s fun and instructive to try out new settings and combinations of settings in trying to improve the quality of my images. (Click on the image to see a higher resolution view of this dragonfly.)

slaty_skimmer1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the coloration of this male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that I photographed last weekend at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in the District of Columbia.  Somehow I was able to get both an interesting perch and a blurred background—all too often I get one or the other.

Black Dragonfly lorezB

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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My normal instinct is to move in really close to my subject, whether it is physical movement with my macro lens or virtual movement with my telephoto zoom, but when I saw this dragonfly, I consciously pulled back in order to bring more of the stalk of the lily into the image.

This is a new species of dragonfly for me and I think it is probably a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). I love the contrast between the dark blue color of the dragonfly’s body and the orange shade of the lily.  This dragonfly’s muted colors give it a somewhat more sophisticated look that the more garishly colored Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) that I also photographed that day. (Check out my previous posting to see the contrast between the images of the two dragonflies in similar positions.)

In addition to the colors, I like the composition of the image and the water in the background blurred out pretty nicely too. In the next few weeks, I’ll be off trying to catch some shots of dragonflies on lotus flowers and waterlilies—it’s that time of the year again.

slaty_orange1a_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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