It is best to do this on a sunny day to have plenty of light and to give good contrast to the shot. This subject does not lend well to dull light conditions and needs the intensity of sunlight to display colours. It is impossible to follow one around as it is flying; the creature is way to fast to focus on or follow in a view finder so it is best to pick a spot where it is landing or taking off from and focus on that point.
Firstly you need to have some depth of field to your focus so as the dragon fly moves in flight wherever the position is there is enough depth to keep the focus. This was shot about f11. Then you need to consider shutter speeds to keep the image sharp. The wings move very quickly so to freeze them I used a shutter of 3200 sec.
To match the depth of field and shutter speed you then set a desired ISO to match them, possible around the 1000 area depending now on the light conditions. If you are able to achieve a lower ISO rating with the shutter and f: settings even the better for quality to the shot. This is where the Nikon D4 is one of the best cameras to use due to the high ISO settings you can use with virtually no noise visible in the image.
The last thing is to have the shutter set to continuous so it releases about 11 frames per second in bursts. You cannot wait for the insect to fly and then press the shutter, you will miss it. This critter moves fast and your eye awareness to brain reaction is way to slow. So here you need to predict its movement. Yes it may not move as you shoot and you will need to try again but the wonder of digital is that you do not waste film, there is a delete button so edit the card as you shoot.
It is often good practice to go and photograph something be it a moving or static subject to gain experience and to practice the technique so you are familiar with how to obtain a desired effect.
Being a Corporate photographer in London I go on jobs and take photographs for my clients that can be repetitive. A portrait can be asked to be done in various ways or covering a conference places you in different surroundings that take thought on how it is to be achieved but generally the situation is relatively the same, as perhaps an assignment that was covered recently that used basic camera setting for the job in hand.
A family portrait photographer is a typical example where they do not stray out of their comfort zone and only photograph time and time again the same type of subject under the same controlled environments. This is fine where you specialise in the one subject or area of photography. Hey, you do become good at it and that’s fine but when you do not know from one day to the next who you might be working for in commercial areas and the situations that you could be faced with its good to have a variety of skill sets to capture that special shot for the client.
Over the years this has been the case for me where I am photographing general requirements within the commercial world and then out of the blue I am asked to do something that is out of the ordinary and need to be prepared to say ‘’yes I can do that’’ than ‘‘no that is not really my skill area’’. Here you run the risk of loosing that client to another photographer and limiting your scope.
I have done this type of photography before but wanted to re address how to go about shooting fast moving objects. Since it was wonderful weather recently I went out to shoot these images below to create a blog spot for those who would like to know how to do this.
Dragon flies are fast creatures. They can be captured by high speed specially designed cameras that shoot thousands of images over a very short time but what if you want to use a standard DSLR camera to do it. Actually shoot them in flight. Here I used a Nikon D4 with a long lens utilising a mono pod to keep the camera steady while waiting for that moment.