What lens do you use to photograph dragonflies?

You have several choices. You can use a macro lens, which makes the dragonfly relatively large in the picture, but with most macro lenses you have to get close to the dragonfly. You can also use a telephoto lens. You can get closer, but the disadvantage is that the dragonfly will appear smaller in the photo. You can always crop later. This is not a problem if you are not printing the photo in large format. However, this is not macro photography, it is close-up photography.

If you go out with a macro lens, such as a 60mm or 100mm, you will be lucky to get a close-up of a dragonfly. The dragonflies usually see you coming from a distance and then fly away! As you can see in the photos below, the facet eyes of a dragonfly are always turned to the side. It is quite difficult to photograph a dragonfly with a macro lens, sometimes you have to twist yourself into all sorts of uncomfortable corners and try to sneak up on it step by step. You’ll find it’s quite a sport.

Common species of dragonflies in our country include the azure damselfly (Coenagrion puella), the armored damselfly (Lestes sponsa), the blue glazier (Aeshna cyanea), the glass cutter (Brachytron pratense) and the blood-red heidelibel (Sympetrum sanguineum). You will see that a dragonfly is a truly beautiful insect, with fantastic colors, eyes and wings. My photos were taken with a 100mm macro lens. All the wonderful details are clearly visible and a pleasure to look at.

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Dgragonfly Hanging On A Twig Macro Photography

Where can dragonflies be found?

Dragonflies can be found in parks with ponds, ditches and streams, but also in natural areas with ponds, canals, ditches and fens. Dragonflies are widespread in the Netherlands. There are 60 different species that breed here. Dragonflies appeal to everyone’s imagination; what beautiful, graceful and gracious insects they are. You can sit for hours watching them and enjoying their flying skills.

Life Cycle of Dragonflies

Dragonflies usually mate in flight, forming a kind of mating wheel like that of damselflies. The male then holds the female with a kind of pincer attached to its abdomen. After fertilization, the eggs are deposited in the water, and you will see the female constantly jumping up and down in the water, depositing her eggs. These eggs give rise to larvae, which will molt about 15 times during their lifetime. Depending on the species of dragonfly, the larvae can live in the water from several months to several years.

The birth of a dragonfly

Before hatching, the larvae, also called nymphs, crawl out of the water along reeds or plant stems. What follows is the emergence of the dragonfly. It is a beautiful sight that usually takes several hours.

The shell bursts open, then the legs come out and the wings are unfolded. The newborn dragonfly then pumps blood through its body and wings in order to fly. This is the time when dragonflies are most vulnerable, as they are easy prey for birds, frogs and other insects.

The adult dragonfly then goes back to caring for its offspring, and the dragonfly itself will live for a few more months (depending on the species).

What do dragonflies eat?

Dragonflies eat small insects such as flies, mosquitoes, spiders, moths, and damselflies. Dragonflies use their eyes to hunt for prey. A dragonfly can see moving prey from 12 meters away. They grab their prey as they fly, then take it between their legs and eat it hanging from a leaf stem or twig.

When is the best time to photograph dragonflies?

When you sit down somewhere along a ditch or a stream on a beautiful summer afternoon, you will usually discover a dragonfly. You can sit quietly because a dragonfly does not bite or attack. Try to take a picture, sometimes it works and sometimes the dragonfly flies away immediately. It is best to wait very quietly. Nine times out of ten, the dragonfly will return several times to the exact same branch or reed stem. The second or third time it usually succeeds in taking a good picture. Photographing is basically the same as photographing bees and bumblebees.

Red Dragonfly Macro Photography

Flying dragonflies and camera settings

As you’ve probably already seen, dragonflies can move their four wings independently. Like a hoverfly, they can remain stationary in one spot, but they can also fly backward or sideways, perpendicularly up or down. Their wings move up and down about 20 to 40 times per second. The large species of dragonflies fly fast, as much as about 50 kilometers per hour.

Use the following basic camera settings for photographing flying dragonflies:

M mode with as large an aperture as possible (i.e., low F number) and a shutter speed of 1/1600 sec.
The ISO value on automatic, so the camera adjusts it automatically to get a good exposure
White balance defaults to 5100 Kelvin for me
One focus point
Continuous autofocus (AF-C, C-AF, AF-F or AI Servo, depending on camera brand)
Continuous shooting mode (burst) activated
Then place the focus point correctly on the dragonfly and you can shoot

The facet eyes of a dragonfly

Facet eyes are eyes of insects that consist of a lot of individual partial eyes, there can be as many as thirty thousand of them!Each sub-eye has its own lens and this lens sees only a small part of the whole.If you add them together, you logically get a much larger and more complete image.Thanks to their facet eyes, which thus face in all directions, dragonflies see their entire environment. Therefore, they always see other insects approaching, no matter from which side. Personally, I think this is the most beautiful part of dragonflies. Just a picture of the eyes is a work of art to look at.

Yellow Dragonfly Macro Photography