Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dragons and Fly's and Critters...Oh My....

A few hundred yards behind my house is a pond that I frequent from time to time.  It's a great place to get away for a while and because it's so close, it sure is convenient.  Sometimes I'll take my camera and tripod along with my dog and sometimes the neighbors dogs, and make the trek over that way.  I always enjoy getting out and letting the dogs run.

Photographing the pond itself can be a bit tricky because the light can be difficult to deal with, but one thing I do enjoy is photographing the critters that live in and around the pond.  Dragonflies are one of the more common critters, but it is all but impossible to chase after them trying to get a good shot.  What I've learned is to simply sit down in a shade and watch them for a while.  After a while, you'll notice that they tend to fly around in patterns and will often frequent the same twig or blade of grass often stopping for several seconds.  That is when the opportunity presents itself.

A macro lens is all but useless as you will never get close enough to one to be able to take its portrait.  What I do is set my long zoom lens to full extension...set the camera and lens on a tripod, and connect a remote cable release.  Then after I identify what twig or spot the dragonflies tend to rest on, I will pre-focus the camera on that  spot and sit and wait.  Before too long, one will usually alight and I fire away.

You can shoot this way all day long on most any kind of day.  But there is a little more to it that simply pointing the camera and taking a picture.  I always try to find an angle that will isolate the dragonfly against a solid background.  Depending on the time of day, I will also try to find an angle that allows for the light to back light the dragonfly as they can often be quite full of translucent colors.

It's a lot of fun to do and with a bit of patience you can catch some really interesting shots using the technique I just described.  Try it some time.

Keith

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