Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Magnifying the passion for nature. Zeiss Victory Harpia 95. New!

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread
Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 15:40   #1
imagedude
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Wales
Posts: 83
Photographing insects in flight

I see many nice photos of insects on flowers etc but not many photos of insects in flight. Short of buying infra red triggers and the like, is it possible to photograph (slow) flying insects using a macro lens and ring flash. I was thinking of donning my running shoes and chasing after some insects with my Canon 300D, 100mm macro lens plus ring flash!

How close will I get to a stationary dragonfly before spooking it? Will a 100mm lens give me enough working distance or should I invest in a 180mm lens?

thanks in advance
Bob
imagedude is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 16:21   #2
Brian Stone
A Stone chatting
 
Brian Stone's Avatar

 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Peterborough, UK
Posts: 6,019
Well I have practically had my lens resting on a dragonfly occasionally. See:
http://thenaturalstone.blogspot.com/...0/bracing.html
Brian Stone is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2005 2006 2007 2008 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 19:38   #3
harry eales
Ancient Entomologist
 
harry eales's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Low Westwood, Durham. England.
Posts: 4,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagedude
I see many nice photos of insects on flowers etc but not many photos of insects in flight. Short of buying infra red triggers and the like, is it possible to photograph (slow) flying insects using a macro lens and ring flash. I was thinking of donning my running shoes and chasing after some insects with my Canon 300D, 100mm macro lens plus ring flash!

How close will I get to a stationary dragonfly before spooking it? Will a 100mm lens give me enough working distance or should I invest in a 180mm lens?

thanks in advance
Bob
Hello Bob,

Before you splash out on any equipment try obtaining a copy of the book Borne on the Wind, by Stephen Dalton. 1975. ISBN 0 7011 2130 0 The author is a professional photographer who specialises in insects in flight.

Some of his pictures are unbelieveable, however he uses a lot of custom made equipment that is not available on the open market, much of which is described in detail. Special shutters and multiple flash units were necessary. Conventional flash was too slow and he used a flash duration of 1/20,000 second. This was developed for him at a cost of 400.00 (pre 1975 price, about 2500 in todays money) A special shutter was also developed to open and close in 1/500th of a second.
He admits to taking up to 900 pictures of one insect to get the picture he wanted. That's a lotta, lotta film.

An insect, even one flying quite slowly, will move some distance during the time an ordinary camera lens opens and closes, how you will keep it in focus will be problem enough, without the actual movement. I think additional lenses and a ring flash will be the least of your problems.

It will certainly be a lot cheaper taking pictures of insects at rest. Read the book first, then make up your mind as to whether you still want to photograph insects in flight.

Re, approaching Dragonflies, on a cool morning it is possible to even coax a resting dragonfly onto your fingers. The warmer the weather the harder it gets to get near them.

Harry
harry eales is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 22:35   #4
imagedude
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Wales
Posts: 83
Thanks harry, I forgot about the high speed flash issue. I used to work with ultra high speed strobes but they were huge, not much use outside of a laboratory/studio enviroment. I'll capturing butterflies in flight using multiple flash at low power (1/5000 duration flash), that'll give me some idea of how difficult faster flying objects will be.
imagedude is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 22:54   #5
harry eales
Ancient Entomologist
 
harry eales's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Low Westwood, Durham. England.
Posts: 4,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagedude
Thanks harry, I forgot about the high speed flash issue. I used to work with ultra high speed strobes but they were huge, not much use outside of a laboratory/studio enviroment. I'll capturing butterflies in flight using multiple flash at low power (1/5000 duration flash), that'll give me some idea of how difficult faster flying objects will be.
Hello Bob,
Photography was so much simpler in my youth, the old 'Box Brownie' camera and a flaring match head for a 'flash.'

Trying out what gear you have already is a good idea, before you re-mortgage the house to buy what you may need.

Harry
harry eales is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 23:04   #6
Jos Stratford
Back again...
 
Jos Stratford's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Exile in East Europe
Posts: 15,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagedude
How close will I get to a stationary dragonfly before spooking it? Will a 100mm lens give me enough working distance or should I invest in a 180mm lens?

Got up close to this one on my land - was a hot sunny afternoon, started with a 300 mm lens, then dropped down to a 50 mm lens as it allowed me to get literally a few centimetres from its resting perch. Flew off only after about ten minutes.

PS Harry, who is it?!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	dragon-thumb.jpg
Views:	290
Size:	56.1 KB
ID:	23092  
__________________
For photographs and articles, Lithuania and beyond, click here for my website
Jos Stratford is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 23:18   #7
harry eales
Ancient Entomologist
 
harry eales's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Low Westwood, Durham. England.
Posts: 4,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jos Stratford
Got up close to this one on my land - was a hot sunny afternoon, started with a 300 mm lens, then dropped down to a 50 mm lens as it allowed me to get literally a few centimetres from its resting perch. Flew off only after about ten minutes.

PS Harry, who is it?!
Hello Jos,

'Who' is an immature or teneral Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense. The abdominal markings are not fully developed as yet. A very nice picture.

Harry
harry eales is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 23:23   #8
Jos Stratford
Back again...
 
Jos Stratford's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Exile in East Europe
Posts: 15,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by harry eales
Hello Jos,

'Who' is an immature or teneral Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense. The abdominal markings are not fully developed as yet. A very nice picture.

Harry
Oo, thank you - hope I'm not asking too much, but I have another 'who' from my land!

Perhaps you could suggest a good fieldguide that would cover species in Lithuania, i.e. the Baltic States?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	dragon2-thumb.jpg
Views:	226
Size:	36.6 KB
ID:	23094  
__________________
For photographs and articles, Lithuania and beyond, click here for my website
Jos Stratford is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 23:37   #9
imagedude
Registered User

 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Wales
Posts: 83
Was that taken with a digital camera Jos?
imagedude is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Thursday 9th June 2005, 23:48   #10
harry eales
Ancient Entomologist
 
harry eales's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Low Westwood, Durham. England.
Posts: 4,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jos Stratford
Oo, thank you - hope I'm not asking too much, but I have another 'who' from my land!

Perhaps you could suggest a good fieldguide that would cover species in Lithuania, i.e. the Baltic States?
Hello again Jos,

Your photograph is of The Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata. A common species in your area. I have enhanced your photograph to make the spots more visible.

Recommending a 'good' Dragonfly guide for the Baltic states isn't quite so easy. Perhaps checking the website below, may give you the most recent titles that are available. I would recommend a book that gives 'larger than life' illustrations rather than life size, much of the fine detail is missing on the illustrations if they are small.

http://www.nhbs.com/

You can browse the site by subject or geozone. Be warned it is a very large site.

Perhaps one of our European members could suggest a title that would be of use to you.

Harry
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	4 Spot Chaser. Jos. BF.jpg
Views:	218
Size:	50.0 KB
ID:	23114  

Last edited by harry eales : Friday 10th June 2005 at 07:36. Reason: To show enhanced picture.
harry eales is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Friday 10th June 2005, 14:47   #11
Jos Stratford
Back again...
 
Jos Stratford's Avatar

 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Exile in East Europe
Posts: 15,334
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagedude
Was that taken with a digital camera Jos?

Both were taken with the very same camera as you have, Canon D300. In both cases too, I snuck up close and used the 55 mm lens provided as standard. Found this to be the easiest way with both dragonflies and butterflies, though I usually grab a few shots with the 300 mm first, just in case they decide to go flitting off over the horizon
__________________
For photographs and articles, Lithuania and beyond, click here for my website
Jos Stratford is online now  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2007 2009 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 11th June 2005, 00:14   #12
HarassedDad
Norfolk County Butterfly Recorder

 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Norwich, Norfolk
Posts: 969
The classic field guide for european dragonflies is "The field guide to the dragonflies of Britain,Europe and North Africa" by d'Aguilar, Dommanget and Prechac.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...618021-5382224
but there's a new edition due soon and probably worth waiting for.
There's also "the dragonflies of europe" by askew, but I haven't seen a copy:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...roduct-details
HarassedDad is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 11th June 2005, 08:19   #13
Leif
Registered Member

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,959
Quote:
Originally Posted by imagedude
I see many nice photos of insects on flowers etc but not many photos of insects in flight. Short of buying infra red triggers and the like, is it possible to photograph (slow) flying insects using a macro lens and ring flash. I was thinking of donning my running shoes and chasing after some insects with my Canon 300D, 100mm macro lens plus ring flash!

How close will I get to a stationary dragonfly before spooking it? Will a 100mm lens give me enough working distance or should I invest in a 180mm lens?

thanks in advance
Bob
To answer the last question first, how close you can get depends on the time of day. Early in the morning you can use a 50mm lens as the creatures are inactive. As the air warms, and they become more active, you need a longer lens. My experience is that 100mm is not enough, though it can be done, as long as the insect is not active. A 200mm micro lens makes the task so much easier and with a 400mm (plus extension rings) it is very easy. However, the image quality of a Nikon 40mm AIS lens + extension tube was noticeably lower than that of the Nikon 200mm AIS micro lens and I much prefer the latter. If you use flash as the main light source, you will get an unnatural look. If you use natural light, you will need a solid tripod.

To answer the first question, I recall two photographers who succeeded in taking pictures of insects in flight. Both used highly specialised and expensive equipment. See the book Insects in Flight by John Brackenbury and http://www.andyharmer.com/ for example pictures by Andy Harmer.

Leif
Leif is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 2006 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Saturday 11th June 2005, 20:54   #14
Surreybirder
Ken Noble
 
Surreybirder's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Lingfield Surrey
Posts: 8,199
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarassedDad
The classic field guide for european dragonflies is "The field guide to the dragonflies of Britain,Europe and North Africa" by d'Aguilar, Dommanget and Prechac.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...618021-5382224
but there's a new edition due soon and probably worth waiting for.
There's also "the dragonflies of europe" by askew, but I haven't seen a copy:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/...roduct-details
I'd recommend Askew before d'Aguilar et Dommanget if you like recognisable drawings!
I heard rumours that Lewington is doing a European dragonfly guide. When Steve Covey gets back from Greece he might fill in the details.
Ken
Surreybirder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Saturday 11th June 2005, 20:57   #15
Surreybirder
Ken Noble
 
Surreybirder's Avatar

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Lingfield Surrey
Posts: 8,199
On the subject of the thread, check out:
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...ord=&x=14&y=10


the sort of shot shown at
http://www.birdforum.net/pp_gallery/...hp?photo=32185
is quite remarkable!
Ken

Last edited by Surreybirder : Saturday 11th June 2005 at 21:00.
Surreybirder is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 13th June 2005, 09:49   #16
raggetty
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Suffolk
Posts: 44
Bumble Bee in flight

Tried a series of bumble bee shots:- flash sync 1/500, pre focused next to the thistle head, any thoughts ?
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	_DSC2042sh.jpg
Views:	243
Size:	60.4 KB
ID:	23378  
raggetty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 13th June 2005, 09:57   #17
raggetty
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Suffolk
Posts: 44
Larger example, sorry new to this posting piccies lark !
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	_DSC2042bf.jpg
Views:	264
Size:	102.7 KB
ID:	23379  
raggetty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Monday 13th June 2005, 11:05   #18
harry eales
Ancient Entomologist
 
harry eales's Avatar

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Low Westwood, Durham. England.
Posts: 4,820
Quote:
Originally Posted by raggetty
Tried a series of bumble bee shots:- flash sync 1/500, pre focused next to the thistle head, any thoughts ?
An excellent picture Raggetty, A specimen of Bombus pratorum.

Harry
harry eales is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 15th June 2005, 18:53   #19
raggetty
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Suffolk
Posts: 44
Thanks Harry, I must try some more soon, more luck than judgement I think !
raggetty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Wednesday 15th June 2005, 22:46   #20
Leif
Registered Member

 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,959
Quote:
Originally Posted by raggetty
Tried a series of bumble bee shots:- flash sync 1/500, pre focused next to the thistle head, any thoughts ?
Those are nice shots. What F number and ISO did you use? Presumably a Nikon D70 given the flash sync speed?

Leif
Leif is offline  
Reply With Quote

BF Supporter 2004 2005 2006 Support BirdForum With A Donation

Old Tuesday 21st June 2005, 08:24   #21
raggetty
Registered User

 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Suffolk
Posts: 44
Thanks for that, yep you are right it was with a Nikon D70, at F5, ISO unrecorded, although I think it was 320.
It did take 70 shots to get this one though !
raggetty is offline  
Reply With Quote
Advertisement
Reply


Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Birding and Nuisance Insects Larry Lade Birds & Birding 22 Tuesday 28th September 2004 16:21
Rules of thumb?????? Mickymouse Bird Identification Q&A 21 Monday 13th September 2004 23:48
Bird Flight in pictures? WillemDeWit Birds & Birding 3 Friday 9th July 2004 16:32
Post-roost flight of Nighthawks Dave B Smith Birds & Birding 2 Tuesday 30th March 2004 04:16

{googleads}

Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.20306206 seconds with 31 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 20:42.