Thursday, July 17, 2008

Damselfly and Mud Turtle

Over the weekend, I decided to shoot closer to home and woke up early to photograph dragonflies along the edge of the pond just behind our place.

Although the pond is always frequented by a number of species, I often have difficulty finding specimens to photograph in the a.m. unlike some of the other ponds that I shoot at. Saturday morning was no exception. I have a suspicion that, because the pond is surrounded by fairly thick woods, the dragonflies forgo the low-lying vegetation and rest in the trees during the night. However, as it usually goes in nature, it wasn't long before I caught a glimpse of something else moving in the stream that feeds into the pond.

As it turned out, a little 'mud turtle' –still unidentified–was making its way into the open water. This was the first chance that I've had in two years to actually put my hands on one of the aquatic turtles living here. It had a beautiful ebony carapace with a fairly small plastron. I also noticed that it was missing all of its toes and some of its right foot. It is a tough life out there in the wild.

After making a few images of the turtle, I slowly worked my way up the stream looking for anything of interest. After about thirty minutes I came to a fairly sunny spot that was attracting several, fluttering electric-blue damselflies. I've photographed this species many times before and almost dismissed the scene when I noticed that a couple were opening up their wings a bit more than usual when they landed. The light behind them was nice and soft so I added a 27.5mm extension tube to my 80-200mm zoom, opened up to around f 5.6 and worked my way into a position where I could photograph the dainty insects without obstructing vegetation. As soon as I looked through the lens, I knew that I had something. I immediately began to fire off as many exposures as I could; knowing that at any moment it would fly away. As luck would have it, just after I made the best of the series a yellow-jacket –who seem to be in plague numbers this year– swooped down and scared the damsel from its perch. I suppose it pays to be ready.


Anonymous said...

Awesome pic of the damselfly--it's one of my shamanic power "animals." This one is an Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly, calopteryx maculata (which means "beautiful wing.") This pic is of a male... the females are iridescent bronze and have a white spot at the tip of each wing.

Anonymous said...

Oh... and there's an easy way to tell the difference between a "true" dragonfly and a damselfly (though indeed, they are very close cousins).

The dragons, at rest, hold their wings out to the sides. The damsels, at rest, hold their wings upright over their backs.