Tag Archives: Dragonflies

Chasing Dragonflies

During the past several weeks I’ve been out enjoying the active wildlife and taking hundreds of photographs. Some of the most prevalent subjects have been dragonflies which are fun insects to photograph with all of their different colorations and patterns. People tend to get a little bored with dragonfly photographs as there are a lot of them.

Dragonfly clinging to a blade of grass

In the main photo above I believe that is called a widow skimmer which is also in the second to last photo from the bottom. Directly above is a four spotted skimmer. After photographing a dragonfly it can be a bit of a challenge to identify it but fun to try and fun to learn what each one is.


These insects are amazing fliers often able to out fly birds to keep from being eaten and also catch insects for their next meal which is a great thing for those that don’t like mosquitos. Their acrobatics can entertain and amaze for hours on a nice summer afternoon.


Above is a blue damselfly hiding amongst the grass. While many people consider it a dragonfly it is actually a different insect in a group known as damselflies. Damselflies have their wings behind them while at rest and are not as skilled at flying as dragonflies. Also they typically are not as big.

Coming in for a landing

During my time attempting to photograph these fun insects, one of my goals was to capture them in flight which proved more difficult than expected. Most of my pictures of dragonflies in the air out of focus or have a portion of their body cut out of the photo or missed them entirely as my reaction time is slower than their takeoff time.

In the face of a dragon

In the picture above rests a 12 spotted skimmer. These didn’t seem to rest much while I was there so there is only a picture or two of them.

Waiting for the next flight

Above is another widow skimmer and below is an ebony jewelwing damselfly. These are probably my favorite damselflies because their coloration changes depending on the light they’re in and because of their black wings which flutter softly from leaf to leaf. There will probably be more dragonfly photos yet this year as I continue to have fun capturing them with a camera.

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly


Early this summer, the opportunity to get some close up photographs of dragonflies presented itself and fortunately I had the camera along. This first one was quite a surprise as I was at the edge of a lake photographing the occasional duck but really wanting to take pictures of a pair of beavers that frequented the area. At one point I was casually looking around when I saw a dragonfly just hanging on a tree motionless. Further inspection showed it had just emerged from it water insect body transformed into a flying insect. If you look closely you can kind of make out the shell which it had previously hosted.

A dragonfly emerging from it previous form

Dragonflies are unable to take flight for some time after emerging from the water as they need time for the wings to expand and dry which is why this particular one was still for awhile. If I had noticed it climbing up the tree initially there may have been some interesting pictures of it’s emergence and change of form. Something to look for in the future.

Drying its wings before the first flight

After some time had passed it unfolding the new wings in an effort to continue drying them in preparation for it’s first flight. Thankfully there wasn’t much else happening so I was able to practice my photography with close ups trying different lenses to see what I like best and which angles seem to be more interesting. The sun was illuminating the dragonfly quite brightly so light was not an issue making it a little easier. I’m sure this insect was wondering at which point I was going to cause it harm believing everything I was doing was in preparation of a meal. Must have been a huge relief when I left as there wasn’t anything the dragonfly could do except walk a little on the tree.

Waiting to fly in the warming sun

A short time later there was another opportunity with a dragonfly clinging to one of the orchids decorating my front door. At first I just admired it waiting for it to take flight on it’s pursuit of dinner. After a few minutes I decided to fetch the camera and once again practice dragonfly photography especially after noticing some of the beautiful colors in the abdomen which are more visible in the large picture at the top. This insect also allowed me several minutes of picture taking and then decided it was time to move on before something undesirable happened. In the upper Midwest it is a very unlikely situation to see a dragonfly enjoying the bloom of a moth orchid (phaleanopsis) which are tropical plants.

Taking in an orchid flower