Slaty Skimmer dragonfly

12 07 2016

It’s obvious I spent quite a bit of time stalking Slaty Skimmers at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens yesterday afternoon! Several of these beauties kept coming back to this same bare branch and I stayed close by to capture various angles. It was a great opportunity to experiment with varying depth-of-field, exposures and compositions.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Slaty Skimmer Radiate

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Slaty Skimmer dragonfly

12 07 2016

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta); photographed against a backdrop of sunlit Sacred lotus leaves; Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

WEB Slaty Abstract





Congratulations, Michael Powell!

17 12 2015

My dear friend/neighbor (and fellow photographer) Michael Powell just won a second place ribbon for his “Baby’s Got Blue Eyes” photo of a Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly in the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park photo contest this month. (To the left of his winning entry is his eagle photo and to the right is a bluebird photo he also entered; two of the four entries allowed). I helped him prepare his four photos for exhibition and am so proud of him for placing. He’s finally getting his stuff on display! Next up—convincing him to exhibit an entire solo show of his nature photography. Thanks to Walter Sanford for sharing Mark Jette’s photo of Michael’s winning entry.

See more of Michael’s work here: http://www.michaelqpowell.wordpress.com/

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From the archives: Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

7 07 2013

A sampling of photos taken at Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens over the past few years

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Dragonfly on lotus bud

17 08 2012

I haven’t been able to identify the exact kind of dragonfly this one is (yet). Any guesses (other than the obvious “black dragonfly”)? Photographed at Green Spring Gardens

UPDATE: Special thanks to a visitor to my blog, Robley Hood, for identifying this beauty—it’s a Slaty skimmer (Libellula incesta).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Distracted by dragonflies and damselflies

17 08 2012

This much is true—I think photography has made me a more patient person (I think I just heard my dad mutter “hmppph” all the way from Texas). It is all at once stimulating, frustrating, exhilarating, overwhelming and all-consuming—and it requires immense patience. No more so than when I’m trying to photograph dragonflies! Today I sought a little time out of the studio at lunchtime—taking advantage of cooler temperatures—and headed to my favorite spot, Green Spring Gardens.

Mid-August is a time of fewer blooms, so I headed down to the ponds, which I rarely frequent when the gardens are ablaze in color. I found a semi-shady spot at one end of the pond where a few lotus flowers were in full bloom, spread out my traveling cushion (a plastic trash bag) at the edge of the bank, and set up shop to try and capture some dragonfly images. It was full sun—never my favorite for shooting outdoors—but I decided to work with what I had at the time, shadows accepted begrudgingly.

The pond was a flurry of activity with what seemed like hundreds of dragonflies and damselflies—staking out their territories, looking for love in all the right places, dipping into the surface of the water to drink and knocking fellow insects off their perches.

The first thing I did upon my return was ask Michael to set up my Nikon D300 so that I am unable to shoot without a card. Why was this important to do? Well, after the first 10 minutes of my photo session, I tried to review my images and got that dreaded “NO MEMORY CARD” alert. I actually said out loud, “Are you kidding me?” I am truly fortunate that this is only the second time I have forgotten to put in a memory card. Michael set it up so I can’t even shoot without a card now! I shot some truly spectacular images of dragonflies and damselflies in that brief 10 minutes. Alas, they are now just committed to my memory. I think I made up for the loss, though, by deciding to shoot continuously for the next hour to make up for my ineptness.

I tallied up the total of clicks—728—more than 8 gigs of images in just over an hour of shooting! These include overexposures, underexposures, out-of-focus, just-missed-its, but there are definitely some keepers, which I’m sharing below. I’ll have many more to share in future posts.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Dragonfly and Sacred Lotus

5 07 2012

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Eye candy, batch #3

11 12 2011

Pulled from the archives of my personal refrigerator magnet poetry, and created with a garden-specific set of magnetic poetry (yes, there is such a product!), I give to you my handcrafted poem attempt #2.

in my garden
through spring and summer
flower bulb root sprout vine tendril emerge
brown earth explodes with life
struggles in the harsh noon light
blooming yellow red blue fresh
quietly full and wild and fertile
bug & bee work hard & long
and a thick green eden thrives
a blanket of peace rustles
beneath sunshine and shade above
I weed cut grow protect
then breathe relax reflect listen live
murmuring come here sacred rain
water more this labor of love
this canvas my art
soft sweet sanctuary

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Eye candy, batch #2

11 12 2011

Pulled from the archives of my personal refrigerator magnet poetry, I give to you my handcrafted attempt #1:

January snow blanket melts
cold February moon gone
March winds a memory
a luscious light envelopes
tiny crocus petals whisper spring
most delicate green grass emerges
rain sweetens the earth
bird song filters down
from the impossibly blue blue sky
warm breezes weave through
a gorgeous tapestry of color

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





The culling process

1 07 2011

When I return from photographing any subject, I immediately delete (or cull) out the images that are out-of-focus, too overexposed or underexposed, and the occasional experimental image that didn’t quite pan out. I’m immediately drawn to specific images—sometimes it might be a great composition, a combination of colors that moves me, or an expression on someone’s face. These are the very first images I prepare for my high resolution stock files and for this blog. Sometimes when I revisit a session, even years later, I will occasionally find an image or two that didn’t get my attention initially but now deserve a second look. Below are just a few that made it out of oblivion to the light of day!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





From the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens archives…

29 06 2011

Since I didn’t get the photographic bounty I usually do at Kenilworth, I thought I’d repost images I’ve created in past years. Enjoy!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Common Blue Damselfly (E. cyathigerum)

6 08 2010

I shot this image at Green Spring Gardens this afternoon. First, this was a hard shot to get—these little guys are fast! Second, I couldn’t set up the tripod quick enough, so this image was shot handheld. Third, this was the sharper of only two shots I could fire before he flew away. Fourth, this guy is tiny—no more than an inch long and extremely hard to track. So, considering the shooting conditions were far from ideal, I think it’s a pretty decent shot!

This is a male Common Blue Damselfly. Females are usually dark with dull green replacing the blue areas. It is one of only two species of damselfly that can be found in both North America and Europe.

Know how to tell the difference between a dragonfly and a damselfly? Dragonflies rest with their wings held perpendicular to the body, while damselflies hold them almost parallel. Also, damselflies are usually smaller and slimmer than dragonflies.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Water Lily and Duckweed

28 06 2010

This hardy water lily might be a Nymphaea ‘Rose Arey’, but I’m not positive. I photographed it at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this weekend. View my past posts on the gardens in the links below:

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/early-morning-at-kenilworth-aquatic-gardens/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2008/07/20/kenilworth-park-and-aquatic-gardens/

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2009/05/27/my-kenilworth-bounty/
http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2007/07/22/kenilworth-gardens-7222007/

http://www.cindydyer.com/KenilworthGardens/


© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blue Dasher Dragonfly

27 06 2010

I was fervently hoping to get some shots of the dragonflies yesterday at Kenilworth, but they were very active and rarely settled long enough for me to photograph them. It was getting hotter and I was just about to give up. I stopped to rest and something compelled me to look to my immediate left—a little more than a foot away from my head, at eye level, was a Blue Dasher (the fella in the second photo) clinging to a bare branch sticking out of the pond. I moved really slowly and was able to fire off about a dozen shots before hedashed away.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blue Dasher Dragonfly

27 06 2010

The Dragonfly

Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro’ crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Dragonfly on Lotus bud

27 06 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Revisiting the Kenilworth archives…

18 06 2010

Next month, the lotus blossoms will be at their finest at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. And yes, I’ll be there once again (even though these lovely blooms choose to do their thing on the hottest day of the summer, year after year. Ah, well, no pain, no gain, right? Even for photographers! Here are some images I shot last year.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Bluer than blue

2 02 2009

Remember that 1978 hit song, Bluer than Blue, by Michael Johnson? Check out the video on youtube. Kinda low budget video, isn’t it? Ah, well, it’s the song that matters, right? Another song of his that I love is, “The Moon is Still Over Her Shoulder.”

Let’s see—I’ve received three requests in response to my “what color collage next” question. One requested a collage showing variegation. One was a request for the color teal. Uh…thanks for the challenge, gals! And the third one was for blue, which just happened to be the color I was working on! (Jan and I were on the same wavelength.) I’ll work on those first two (more challenging) requests, but in the interim, here’s a collage of nothin’ but blue! Blue isn’t a really common color in the garden, yet I was surprised I had enough images in that color to create this collage. I would love to be able to grow the extra-heat-sensitive-needs-cool-rainy-summers (which we don’t have in Northern Virginia) lovely sky-blue Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis betonicifolia), a native of southeastern Tibet.

Other blue flowers include:

Statice
Sea holly (Eryngium-–which I grow in my garden—and it is a beauty)
Hydrangea
Delphiniums
Chicory (shown below)
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella—shown below)
Cornflower
‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory (shown below)
Forget-me-not
Bearded iris
Himalayan blue poppy (there are other shades of blue poppies as well)
Scabiosa (beautiful pale blue; I’ve grown them but they flop over too soon!)
Scilla
Veronica Speedwell
Globe thistle (Echinops)—I have several of these in my front garden
Muscari (grape hyacinth—some varieties lean more toward blue than deep purple)
Pride of Madeira (leans toward purple-blue—unbelievably beautiful plant—wish it would grow in our area)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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Worth standing in the July heat for…

20 07 2008

While the sunlight was just too intense to photograph the Lotus blooms at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C. this morning, I had a great time (often in the shade, as you might imagine) observing and photographing the dragonflies near the visitor’s center. I got my best results using a 150 macro lens on my Nikon D300.

I just found a great online resource for identifying dragonflies. It’s the Digital Dragonflies Catalog, by Forrest L. Mitchell, and sponsored by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. If I go on the assumption my dragonfly is a Skimmer, then I would click on the photo opposite the “Libellulidae” box and find one that looks like it. (I haven’t found one that matches it yet). Any takers?

Another good online reference is Mangoverde Dragonflies.

Whatever kind of dragonfly it is, it was certainly a great model. Even when startled enough to fly away, it always came right back to this spot. I think I shot well over 100 views (let’s blame my photographic delirium on the heat, shall we?). His (her?) stripes were a beautiful metallic rust-red and shimmered in the sunlight. Every shot I got shows a different position (tail up, tail down, tail straight up, just landing, flying off, etc.). He pulled out every trick in his bag and I recorded every one of them! This is one of my favorites. And, as always, a special prize (honest!) to the first person to correctly identify (with supporting evidence, of course) this beautiful dragonfly!

UPDATE, JULY 24: While photographing the American Horticultural Society’s National Children & Youth Gardening Symposium on the University of Delaware’s campus this morning, I thumbed through a book on butterflies and dragonflies written by author Jane Kirkland, who was the dynamic and wildly entertaining keynote speaker at the opening session. The first page I flipped to had a photo of this exact dragonfly! Thanks to Jane’s book, I now know this is a “Halloween Pennant” dragonfly. This was an omen that I had to own the book, so I bought it and had Jane sign it for me! Jane created a field guide for teachers entitled, “No Student Left Indoors,” and she is also the creator and author of the award-winning nature discovery books— Take a Walk Books. You can read Jane’s blog here. Jane has also appeared on Animal Planet TV and PBS.

For more about the Halloween Pennant dragonfly, click here. Read photographer Bill Horn’s tips for photographing them on his Photo Migrations site.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com





Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens

20 07 2008

Bright and early this morning (too early), Michael and I headed out to photograph the sunflower fields at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, MD, then headed over to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to photograph the Lotus blossoms. We first learned about the sunflower fields from my friend Nanda, who went to see it after reading about it in the Washington Post here. We’ve gone the past two years and have gotten there either before the blooms appeared or too late in the day when they’re spent and facing downward. This year, thanks to advice via e-mail from fellow blogger and local photographer Patty Hankins, we finally got to photograph the flowers at their peak! (Patty shot some really beautiful images; you’ll see them on her blog). I’ll be posting the sunflower photos later.

After an hour and a half of photographing sunflowers, we headed to Kenilworth in Washington, D.C. And once again, we arrived during the Annual Waterlily Festival and the Lotus Asian Cultural Festival (I thought it was next weekend). Since it was later in the morning than we had expected to get there, it wasn’t the optimum time for photographing Lotus blossoms because of the harsh sunlight. Despite that, photographing the myriad dragonflies ended up making it well worth the trip anyway!

To see the Lotus blossom images I shot at Kenilworth in 2006 and 2007, click here and here.

Here’s an article from the Washington Post about this “oasis in the city.” If you’ve got the room (and the pond!) to grow these beautiful flowers, read these growing tips from Doug Green. And take a look at Patty Hankins’ Lotus blossom photos and glean some great photography tips on her blog here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Snake doctors

4 07 2008

My Dad posted this comment on dragonflies and since viewers don’t always read the comments, I thought I’d share his in a posting:

I hope y’all are ready for this — when I was a little feller in rural Alabama (eons ago), we didn’t call them dragonflies — they were “snake doctors.” In my part of the state (west central), little boys were always barefoot (except in the dead of winter). We moved very carefully when we saw a snake doctor, believing that somewhere near, an ailing snake lay in wait for the doctor, but willing to bite anything else that moved). I don’t recall anyone saying in what manner the insects administered to such sickly serpents. We didn’t question such facts back then — we just accepted them (come to think of it, I haven’t changed that much).

I have completely exhausted my store of superlatives for your photos so I’ll just say, “Keep ‘em coming.” And as always (in the interest of full disclosure), I must stress that although I am your father, my opinions are based on the product and not on family ties.

A bit of Alabama etymology: Y’all — the plural for y’all (you all) is “you’ins” (accent on the first syllable), sometimes pronounced “y’erns” (pronounced with only one syllable).





Widow Skimmer dragonfly at Springwood Farm

30 06 2008

This dragonfly was so large I didn’t even need my macro lens to capture it full frame! This is a female Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctosa). Learn the differences between a dragonfly and a damselfly here.

There are approximately 5,000 named dragonfly species in the world. In North America, there are about 450 species, making them (a little) easier to identify. They hail from every continent except Antarctica, with life span ranges from about six months to several years. They don’t bite or sting and are considered beneficial insects because they eat harmful insects such as mosquitoes, gnats, ants, and termites. They’re fast (30-60 miles per hour), move in all directions like a helicopter (including hovering), and their eyesight is amazing—each eye contains up to 30,000 tiny lenses.

The largest dragonfly recorded from fossil records had a wing span of about two and one-half feet. It was a prehistoric insect from 300 million years ago. Read more about it here on Wikipedia and on this blog– The World We Don’t Live In.

I definitely wouldn’t need a macro lens to record that!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.wordpress.com

See another dragonfly I photographed at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden here.





On (Blue) Dasher…

12 09 2007

This little guy (yes, I did some research*) is Pachydiplax longipennis, or a Blue Dasher. Other common names include Swift Long-winged Skimmer and Blue Pirate. Learn more about him here: http://bugguide.net/node/view/598

*This site states that females can turn bluer with age, but they start out more amber colored.

Further research has determined the grapelike clusters attached to his belly are “aquatic mites,” and the single red one, in particular, is a “locust mite,” or Eutrombidium rostratum, the most common locust mite in the U.S. and Europe. They are often seen on the body and wings of grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, and mantids.

I found some wonderful photographs and information on various dragonflies here:
http://www.whatsthatbug.com/odonata.html

And for in-depth details on how (as well as when, where, and why) to photograph dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies can be found at a Web site I found for JPG, “The Magazine of Brave New Photography.” http://www.jpgmag.com/stories/1246

blue-dragonfly.jpg

© 2007 Cindy Dyer, All rights reserved. www.cindydyer.com/GardenPhotos