First off, I want to say I am a fan of macro lenses and I do enjoy spending time hunting insects, creepy crawlies and other mini beasts with the camera/macro lens however when it comes to shooting photos of dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies a macro lens is no good. Sure, you can try and use a macro lens to shoot these flying critters however you will miss more shots than you will get.
It has reached the time of the year when the dragonflies are starting to emerge in large numbers, as are the damselflies and the butterflies are also starting to make an appearance. Spring is rattling on and summer is fast approaching which means it is time to get out there and photograph damselflies, dragonflies and butterflies. Over the weekend the weather was perfect for photographing dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies (which makes a change for the UK) so I thought it was time to make the most of the opportunity and head down to a local nature reserve, where the all of the “flies” are starting to show.
As soon as I reached the prime dragonfly and damselfly territory it was clear it was going these guys weren’t going to play ball. The damselflies were busy finding mating partners or copulating, and the dragonflies were buzzing around like they were on acid. The dragonflies did take a breather and stop to hover for a few milliseconds (but nowhere near me) before darting off at lightning speed. There were a few dragonflies that were more sedate and actually rest on the reed sedges but they were nervous, and as soon as I approached them they flew off and found another perch a little farther on. When I walked towards their new perch, they did the same thing again, and then again.
I only had my macro photography kit with me, which looking back was stupid on my part. I knew I should have taken my general walkabout kit, but hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it. Anyway, I tried to take some photos of the dragonflies and damselflies with the macro kit, but it was in vain. After trying to focus on the flying damselflies and dragonflies I soon realized it wasn’t even worth trying because getting the critter in focus was never going to happen. I tried shooting photos of the sedate dragonflies resting on the reeds but the 100mm focal length wasn’t sufficient enough and the dragonfly/damselfly I was trying to shoot was no more than an insignificant speck in the frame.
I have to admit that I was a little frustrated and annoyed so I decided to take some close up photos of the different types of wildflowers around the reserve. Now then, I could have sworn that it wasn’t windy when I left home, but there was definitely a breeze now. I wouldn’t say it was windy, but the breath of wind was sufficient to blow the flowers around, resulting in subject movement and turning the photos in to an unusable blurry mess that were instantly deleted.
Even though the photography was a total failure I did learn something from the experience. I learned I should always carry my walk around kit as the 28mm – 300mm f3.5 – 5.6L lens would have been more than good enough to capture some photos. Okay, they wouldn’t have been close up and/or true macro photos but I would have managed to capture some photos.
Below are some links to other macro photography articles you may find useful/interesting:-
“Using a super zoom lens for macro photography” is an article that proves you don’t necessarily need a specific macro lens to get macro and close up shots.
“Shooting insects” is an article full of tips and advice to capture awesome insect photos.
“Macro photography on the cheap” is an article that shows you don’t need to spend a fortune to capture stunning macro photos.
“The best flash for macro photography” is an article that explores the best macro photography lighting solutions available.
“Ring light or ring flash?” is an article that looks at the situations when a ring light is the best solution, and when the ring flash is the best solution.
“Why you need a ring flash with ETTL” is an article proving that if you are going to use a ring flash you need to use one that has both manual and ETTL modes.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.