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Let’s Catch a Dragonfly

They are gracious, seem fragile and for many people they are magical and a lot of fun to watch in the summertime. I’m talking about dragonflies. Even though there are many stories (mostly myths) about how they got their English name, nobody really knows. Languages with Latin origin as well as German & Dutch talk about dragonflies being a weight balance, as lat. libella (from libra) means small weight balance. The Danish call the flying insects – probably because of their beautiful colors – goldsmith (jeweler.)

So how do you catch a dragonfly? Why it’s not completely impossible, you should refrain from trying to catch them with your bare hands. Even though they are toothless, their mandibles to catch and crush insects, can be quite hurtful. But with catching, I surely meant taking a picture, like the one above from a Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa).

Keyword is patience. You are not at a sports event, where you may miss a beautiful pass and a header goal into the left corner. Dragonflies often use the same pattern over and over again. Watch them for a couple of minutes, try to find out where they perch, there may be several sticks they love to clamp to. Approach but try to not disturb them. With a regular point and shoot with a digital zoom or a DSLR with a 300mm lens you should be able to capture a nice portrait/close-up of the Libellula. The picture above was shot at 240mm and yes I did crop it slightly. If you want to have the background blurred like in the picture above, set your point and shoot either to “Portrait” or “Macro” if you can’t change your aperture priority.

Happy dragonfly hunting!


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