Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Dragonfly in flight, and the new Canon 7D Mark II

A female Common Green Darner, Anax junius, at rest, showing the bulls-eye mark on top of the frons (nose). This is a large, common, and spectacular species.

Last Saturday, while at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area along western Lake Erie, a bunch of us were standing around awaiting the emergence of a Kentucky Warbler that had secreted itself in some shrubs. Growing restless, I focused my attention on some nearby Common Green Darners that were dashing about. Just like many of the birds at Magee, these big dragonflies are highly migratory. Large numbers pass through the western Lake Erie marshes, often pausing to feed. This one is a male, with its beautiful sky-blue abdomen. Where he came from is anyone's guess: The coastal Atlantic states, the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, somewhere in the Caribbean, maybe even Mexico or points south.

Shooting fast moving dragonflies in flight offers a challenge for photographers. Good gear definitely helps, but so does steady hands smoothly tracking the subject, and an awareness of the dragonfly's habits. I noticed that this one tended to pause and hover in one particular spot as it made its circuit, and I was ready for it. I made the image with the spectacular new Canon 7D Mark II coupled with a Canon 100-400 mm 4.5/5.6 II lens. This is an amazing combo for nature photography. The parameters of this particular shot were f/6.3, 1/640 of a second shutter speed, ISO 160, no flash, and lens fully extended to 400 mm.

The aforementioned camera rig is superb for birds, and is easily handheld. Sometimes a tripod is awkward, although they ensure a stable shooting platform. However, I find that getting a good percentage of sharp handheld shots with this setup is often easy. This Black-throated Blue Warbler was one of many songbirds that I captured over the weekend at Magee.

I have been impressed with the versatility of the Canon 7D Mark II with the 100-400 mm lens. This White Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium candidum, came out rather nicely. The only real fault with the photo is that I failed to temporarily pull the Prairie-dock leaf behind the orchid out of the way; it creates background clutter.

The 100-400 lens focuses down to about three feet, and thus can work well for plants and other nearby objects.

Here's the rig as assembled. It is pretty compact, although gets a fair bit longer when the lens is twisted out to full zoom. I think that if I could only have one camera/lens setup, this would be it. I'm still learning the nuances of this combination, but my satisfaction with this setup grows stronger every time that I use it. If you're looking for a great all-around photographic nature rig, this might be the combo for you.


1 comment:

Dave Lewis said...

Oh great...now I'm confused! I was thinking about getting the new 5DS full framed with a 50 megapixel sensor...hmmm...