Photographing Dragonflies in Flight – Terry Thormin

Getting good photographs of dragonflies in flight is a real challenge. It generally requires a lot of patience and skill and a good portion of luck. I have deleted many shots that were badly exposed or blurry because of using the wrong camera settings. To have a reasonable chance of getting a good in-flight photograph the dragonfly needs to be hovering. Certain species are actually quite easy to get in flight, one of the best examples being the Paddle-tailed Darner which often hovers for quite a while and often quite close to the photographer. In fact I have been frustrated at times by this species when it was hovering so close to me that my camera would not focus on it.

There are some species that I have never seen hovering and I have essentially given up on them, but then there are those that do hover occasionally, but almost always for such a short period of time that it is impossible to get on them in time. These are the ones that I keep trying for and getting frustrated about, but I know that eventually I will get them. So here are two photos of species that I just recently added to my list of in-flight shots, species that I have been trying to get for quite some time and finally did get.

Blue Dasher male in flight

Four-spotted Skimmer in flight

The big challenge now, and one that is the source of my greatest frustration, is the Common Green Darner. I have come so close so many times but still have not succeeded. That photo will be posted right away if I ever do succeed.

If you are interested in seeing more of my in-flight photos of dragonflies, as well as perched dragonflies, you can find them on my Smugmug site here:


About annieandterry

This is a blog shared by two friends who have never met in person, Annie Pang and Terry Thormin. We both live on Vancouver Island, Annie in Victoria and Terry in Comox. All communication to date has been either by email or telephone. We are both passionate about nature and conservation and we are both nature photographers. Annie is also a very fine poet and was a concert violinist, while Terry worked as an entomologist for the Royal Alberta Museum until he retired in 2005. We hope you enjoy this joint effort to share our nature musings with anyone who is interested.

Posted on August 5, 2012, in Nature, Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Couple of things on the the Green Darners. High wind days are pretty good, because they will tend to hover more often. Set yourself up so that you are perpendicular to the wind and toward the middle of the beat. Small ponds work best, because the beats are more predicatable. They tend to hover more on cooler days, or towards the end of the flying day. By the way, end of the day is a good time to get them in a high-contrast background. Finally, I had a lot of luck using a Better Beamer on my flash. I could reach out farther with smaller apertures and somewhat higher ISOs such that I could then crop the billy-be-darned out of the photos. Finally, just accept that you are going to throw out >90% of your photos, so fire away–megabytes are free. Here is some of my work from a couple of years back–good luck.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s