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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Early days: A love for dragonflies

Following the capture of the emperor dragonfly in-flight, that I described in my previous post, I developed a keen interest in dragonflies and I started capturing the species that were visiting the pond.

Blue skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) male Scarlet darter (Crocothemis erythraea) male

That's about how close my Canon Powershot S45 could take me and I still had to crop the photos to bring the dragonflies closer. Back then I used to crop my photos to 1280x1024 pixels to fit exactly my screen and I often used them as backgrounds.

Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator) female ovipositing Violet Dropwing (Trithemis annulata) male

Back then I used to just put the subject in the center of the photo and not care for composition, my foremost intention was to get as close to the subject as possible and nail the focus. My favorite captures though were the ones I managed with the sky as a background:

Return of the King Red against blue

I still got to research every single species that I shot and managed to identify all pond visitors. This way I also got to learn more about their behavior which in turn helped me develop my approaching tactics.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Early days: How it all started...

I've always been fond of photography. I liked the fact that it gives you a way to capture a special moment thus cherishing it forever. I used to own a couple of compact film cameras, making snapshots during travels or events, but back then I didn't put time into learning more about photography, I just pointed and shot...

All that started changing when I got my first compact digital camera, a Canon PowerShot S45, in 2003. I liked the fact that I could immediately see what I shot (who doesn't?), so it allowed me to quickly correct mistakes, speeding the whole learning process. Plus, I already had knowledge of Photoshop, allowing me to post-process my photos effectively and produce better results from day 1. That got me hooked in the first place. But I still lacked the motivation to start shooting beyond the usual kids / travels / events...

Then something unexpected happened that forever changed the way I saw photography and motivated me to delve deeper into both technique and art. At about the same time that I got my camera, my father had built a pond outside his house, located in the countryside. Lo and behold this pond in a usually dry environment started attracting several insects next spring. On Sunday May 2nd 2004, while making our regular family visit to my parents, I noticed that there was a big blue dragonfly circling the pond. I had never seen a live dragonfly before so curiosity got the better of me and I decided to photograph it. I took me a while, since the dragonfly never ceased flying, but countless shots later I ended up with a single photo where the insect is in focus.

Since the subject only occupied a small portion of lower-right corner of the photo, I considerably cropped it and only kept 1/3 of the original 4Mpixel shot, ending up with what you see here. Immediately, questions started forming on my mind about this creature and I got into researching on the Internet to learn as much as I could about it. A few days later I realized that what I had captured was actually a male Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) that had decided to take over the pond and was actually patrolling, ready to defend its territory against other males of the same species, and looking forward to mate with a female.

That was enough to spark my interest into nature photography and I still enjoy researching the natural history of every single subject I shoot.