In this article, I would like to give you some tips on photographing dragonflies with minimal gear. I’m an amateur landscape and wildlife photographer from France. I graduated in ecology (biodiversity management and biology of conservation) last year before I decided to leave to New Zealand for a one-year trip. I discovered landscape and astrophotography in this beautiful country, but I feel like I sometimes need to get back to wildlife photography which is what I was first interested in. Because of my studies, I spent a lot of time in the field working on insects and especially dragonflies, learning how they live, observing their behavior and understanding the importance of their preservation.
Their diversity of shape, color and behavior make them fascinating to photograph but also to study. Because of their life cycle, they are related to water, the majority of them living in wetlands. These ecosystems are extremely important to protect mostly because of the services they provide to us (half of the world’s population rely on these ecosystems for their water needs) but also because they host a tremendous diversity of species, vegetal or animal.
Like most of wildlife photography, knowing the animal you want to shoot is as important as knowing how to take a picture of it. I will try to cover most of the information you need to know about dragonflies so you don’t miss an opportunity to photograph them. The second thing I will insist on is composition, how to place your subject in the frame and use the elements of its habitat. And last but not least, taking pictures of dragonflies requires you to understand and master your gear and the settings you need to use. However, I won’t go into much detail on this here as you can find a way more complete information by combining the different reviews and wildlife guides at Photography Life. For a start, check out the photography tips page.
Some of the ideas or tips I will give are also already explained in the macro photography tutorial, which is why I will skip over some technical info as it is well described already.
1) Know Dragonfly Behavior
Before you get out there with your boots or waders, you need to have some basic knowledge of dragonfly behavior, depending on which kind of picture you want. If your purpose is to shoot landed dragonflies, your best bet is to wake up early or wait for the end of the day. These insects are mostly active when the sun is already up and the temperature is rising, flying frantically around their territory. At dawn or dusk, it’s a different story! You can approach them way easier and get some nice macro shots. Plus, the light is usually better at that time, and you can sometimes get a nice dew on the dragonfly early in the morning! The only hard thing will be to find them in the vegetation though.
The following picture of an Emerald dragonfly (Lestes sponsa) was taken just before the sun disappeared at the horizon, when it started to be cold and all of the damselflies stopped flying around the peat bog. On a side note, these damselflies have a funny behavior which consists of turning around the grass they landed on, always facing you, like it was trying to hide behind it…
Like I said before, dragonflies are mostly active when the sun is out. So what about a cloudy or rainy day? You guessed it, they usually don’t fly much. That’s indeed another way to get easily close to them and practice your macro skills! I got a shot of this Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) on a cloudy day but the light isn’t as great as during a sunrise or sunset:
Of course, you can also try to approach a landed dragonfly anytime during the day, even if it’s sunny. It takes time though; you can’t expect to get close if you move toward or away from them, but I won’t go into details (see the macro photography tutorial link above). They also tend to be easier to approach while they’re eating, you’ll have to notice it though, which can be really hard considering the small size of most of their preys… Or not: look at this greedy Blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans)!
Having a picture of a landed dragonfly is fine, but capturing it while flying is usually way more challenging and rewarding! The good thing is that their flight is predictable most of the time.
Let’s start with males. Their preferred activity of they day is to fly around and patrol their territory, chasing every other challenger who might want to steal their spot. If you look carefully, you’ll see that while they are patrolling, they often follow the same route. You can then start to think about your composition in your picture (we’ll get back to that later) and work on what could make your photo stand out. That’s exactly what happened when I took this shot of this White-faced darter (Leucorrhinia dubia), I stood there looking at the path this male followed, then visualized how I could include it with a background. I found an interesting shape formed by the shadow of the vegetation (reminding this idea of a path), waited for the dragonfly to appear in the frame and shot, hoping for the dragonfly to be there!
Another thing dragonflies love to do is hovering (and they’re pretty good at it!). It happens often when you’re on their territory, the male being probably curious of your presence and sometimes staying a few seconds facing you, waiting for you to capture the instant. And don’t worry, if you miss the opportunity, it will probably come back by the same route and stop on the same spot wondering again what you’re doing there. Here’s a good example with this Yellow-spotted emerald (Somatochlora flavomaculata) which stayed hovering for a few seconds, doing this more than 10 times which allowed me to get the picture I wanted.
Enough with the males, what about the females? Sadly, for us photographers, female dragonflies are less colorful than males, simply because they don’t need to be as attractive as males and, because they give life, they’re more precious and absolutely need to survive until they lay their eggs. That’s why they also often stay hidden in the vegetation. But at one point they have to get out from their hide and fly to an open field.
Depending on the species/family, some dragonflies lay eggs into the stem of plants, deep into the mud and sediments of a resurgence, on a submerged plant or at the surface of the water while hovering. Yes, the last one looks clearly the most photogenic way! Again, here’s a picture of a White-faced darter, but this time with a female, doing this acrobatic egg-laying:
There’s also a technique that works for both males and females: while they hunt, they usually come back over and over to the same perch where they can eat their preys and be ready to take off to catch their next meal. You can then focus on the perch and wait for the dragonfly to land (it’s way harder to snap them when they take off as there’s almost no way to know when it’s going to happen). That’s what I did with this Ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum). I just watched it fly and when I saw it coming back to its perch, so I started to shoot away!
The last thing I would think of is related to their life cycle. The larva of the dragonfly lives in the water and then decide to emerge for its adult life when the time has come. This short and critical moment of their life can lead to beautiful pictures, painting one of the most interesting transformation in the insect life: the metamorphosis (which isn’t really complete for dragonflies). It happens usually in the morning, hidden somewhere to the view of potential predators, making it often hard to spot. Look down on plants close to the water or on the trunk of trees and you might see shining wings, freshly taken out from its last molt. I spotted this Brilland emerald (Somatochlora metallica) still hanging to its exuviae (the remains of its exoskeleton from its molt). You can notice that one of its wings isn’t deployed as expected, leaving this dragonfly flightless, to its own fate:
Now that you’re thinking as a dragonfly, you can start thinking as a photographer! Everything around the dragonfly itself is as important as the central subject of your picture. As it is the case for general macro photography, you should pay attention to the background. You can choose to keep it simple, so the eye isn’t attracted by any background element or on the contrary, use these distracting elements to reinforce your composition.
The aquatic environment is quite interesting for that; it offers to your creativity a perfect playground. The best example that comes in my mind is the water reflection, either of the dragonfly (see the female White-faced darter I pictured before) or any other element of its habitat. The vegetation on a riverbank can be used to create something different, to echo or remind the shape or the silhouette of your subject. That’s what I tried to achieve with this picture of these two Emerald dragonflies (Lestes sponsa), using the reflection of two pine trees far back on the land:
Besides the shapes, you can also play with the strong colors of some species, either to be in harmony or contrast with the background color. The light is also crucial if you want it to match with your subject. The first picture, of a Yellow-winged darter (Sympetrum flaveolum) shows this idea, with the sun rays piercing through the grass at the end of the day:
On the other hand, this Red-veined darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) contrasts with its bright red body and the dark green background:
Most of my pictures are taken a few meters away from the dragonflies because I usually prefer to include these insects into their habitat and leave an important space for the background. I also sometimes like to shoot through the vegetation to make the dragonfly belong even more to its environment. Here’s an example with this Banded demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens):
However, nothing prevents you to get closer if you have the chance to, and insist on details. Macro photography can be a useful tool especially if you want to reveal the complex structures of their bodies, mostly their head and wings.
3) Gear and Settings
I would like to end this article by talking a little bit about the gear and settings I often use and some recommendations related to my experience. I can’t really give you a review on which camera/lens you should use, considering your budget, simply because I have used pretty much the same gear for almost a decade. However, when you go in the field I would recommend to always take a telephoto and macro lens with you. It offers a lot more versatility and allows you to be more creative. Depending on the moment of the day and the weather, you can start shooting with your telephoto and switch to your macro lens when you have the opportunity to get closer. And if you’re not only focused on dragonflies, your telephoto will always be useful for bird photography!
As for the settings, you probably won’t learn anything about what I’m going to say but:
– If you want to get a picture of a dragonfly in flight with sharp wings, I would say to setup your shutter speed to at least 1/3200 or even more if you don’t mind getting your ISO high, depending on the light (you will also want to open your lens’s aperture as wide as possible).
– If the dragonfly is in landed position, just set the shutter speed so you can avoid any blur from your camera shake (see reciprocal rule). Your aperture will depend on the depth of field you are looking for, if you want it small, then open your lens’s aperture, but it can sometimes be useful to stop down the aperture so your subject can be entirely sharp (in the case of macro photography, you’ll mostly have to use a flash for that, see the Depth of Field part in the macro photography tutorial for more information.
And…That’s all for me! I hope these tips based on my experience will help you and give you some ideas for your next dragonfly photography session. As you can see there’s no need for expensive gear (I still use my Canon 500D and Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 for most of my wildlife pictures) to snap these lovely insects. The most important thing and advise I would give to beginners, is to be patient while observing where and how dragonflies live, learn about their habits so you can anticipate their movements and general behavior. Then, you’ll be able to start thinking about your composition and add your creativity to your pictures.
For dragonfly lovers, you can check all of my pictures here.
If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them in the comment section!
This guest post was contributed by Maxime Sacré. You can see more of his work on his website.
Sorry that this comment is unrelated to the beautiful Dragonfly and Damsel Fly photos.
To the site administrator:
Excellent website. But I do not see any link to the administrator. How do I get information on running an ad on Photography Life?
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Male dragonflies are just as precious and needed to survive as females for survival of the species.
By females being « more precious », I meant several things:
First, you can consider the fact that, if the male dies after reproduction, it won’t affect the survival of the species unless the female gets eaten before she lay eggs. Then, she technically has to live longer than the male (which isn’t a really big difference, I agree). One male can also breed with several females, which makes a few males sometimes enough to keep a population stable.
Last thing, which can seem contradictory to the previous argument, dragonflies (especially damselflies) usually have a male-biased sex ratio in their mature population (the ratio being even at emergence; Stoks, 2001). The number of females being lower than males, they’re rarer in the population and thus more precious (again, it’s debatable as this difference might an artefact resulting from the higher observability of males).
Stoks, R. (2001). What causes male‐biased sex ratios in mature damselfly populations?. Ecological Entomology, 26(2), 188-197.
I’m convinced the difference is mostly an artefact caused by observer bias, it’s obvious if you look at e.g. websites that track dragonfly observations. There are similar issues with observations of ‘extremely rare’ vs. ‘common’ dragonflies.
Dragonflies are interesting species to photo them. I have found it more difficult to photo them while they are in flight…due to their size. This article helps.
Thanks Vinayak, I’m glad it helped you!
Many thanks for sharing your experience and photos. That’s really appreciated.
Nevertheless, when a work is exposed some comments are open to come.
Here are mine, and hope you interpret them as a positive appreciation, and also sharing from my side.
Shooting dragonflies is not hard, as shooting anything else. Making some excellent photos is. You have here some excellent photos, #1 and #9.
All the others are so-so, and only because you can do better if you pay a little more attention to detail, or what gear to be used. Some are not really well focused, meaning not sharp, and the majority loose a lot because of the background and busy/nervous bokeh.
Try to use more reflected light, sometimes white clothes could be enough, others a flash is mandatory. Then try to get them with longer telephotos. I know if we don’t have them… but night and day can be produced if a 400mm is used, because you are further apart, could have the dragonfly better in focus and a greater bokeh and background could be achieved.
Don’t get me wrong, I have learned with your photos, hope you learn from my comments.
Thanks for your comment Pedro!
I really appreciate what you said because, besides giving some tips on how to shoot dragonflies, one of the reason I made this article was also a way for me to show my work and get a review from other photographers.
You’re right, I used some of these pictures to illustrate a tip/recommendation but they’re sometimes not as good as I expected.
About the background, I sometimes like when it’s not that “plain” and it’s not a “studio-like” picture with an uniform color and shape (the one of the White-faced darter comes to my mind).
I totally agree that a flash would help and I really consider buying one, even if I won’t be using it that much (I love to you the natural light when I can). A brighter lens would also be helpful I guess.
Thanks for your review again.
I don’t hear anyone talking about telephoto lens and a stack of extension tubes — or did I miss that. I use a 70 to 300 Nikon plus a 36 mm extension tube. This way I get macro shots at a distance away. Pedro is being too hard on you — I really like numbers 10, 11 and 12. Good article.
In general telephoto lenses of 200-400mm are a good choice for dragonflies, but only if they have suitable MFD which is a problem with many tele primes. Extension tubes (or front mounted diopter lenses) can be a hassle because you can no longer take images when the subject is further away (like when quickly switching to in-flight shots). Also, image quality for closeups varies strongly between lenses; that you can focus close (with or without extender) doesn’t mean that you are going to get high quality images. Some experimenting is required to get best results.
I agree with Pedro that 400mm can provide nicer rendering of the subject and better background blur, but sometimes the local conditions work against long lenses. In my area most dragonfly spots have too much vegetation and it is difficult to find dragonflies in an isolated spot where one can get an unobstructed view with a long lens. Also, I like the more ‘environmental’ shots from Maxime and sometimes I even use a SWA lens for dragonfly shots ;-)
Very nice article and great photos!
Thank you Mark, I appreciate it!
hi this is nice blog there are some good information. and i am wishing that you will do again post this kinds blogs ..
hi, very nice blog there are some good information and good pictures collections.
Truly wonderful pictures. What distance do you consider to be a safe working distance with these creatures usually so that they dont get distracted or scared
Thanks for your comment Muhammad! Like I said it will depend a lot on the conditions and the species. On a sunny day it will be hard for you to get closer than 1-2 meters to a dragonfly but again, damselflies are easier to approach so the distance will vary a lot
I’ve gotten within inches of both dragonflies and damselflies, both in hot and cool weather. What’s been key is taking photos in their habitat, near water. They regularly stop and return to the same exact area, frequently on dead vegetation…so if you’ve seen one, wait in the same area and move slowly to get the photo. I use old glass and manual focus, and still get the shot. Check out some of mine on 500px
Nice piece. I also enjoy photographing dragonflies and damselflies. I’ve noticed their tendency to return time after time to the same perches. So I stay put and wait for my shot. I’ve also noticed that, when they are busy focused on eating, I can get close in to focus on them!
Thank you Susan! You are right, it’s a really common behavior for odonatas to come back on their favorite perch while they hunt. I will probably write something about it, as Glenn mentioned it as well. I also have a picture to illustrate this behavior.
To Maxime and Spencer:
Thank you for your wonderful articles and really good insect photos. This subject is dear to my heart because I have been photographing insects (mostly in-flight honey bees and carpenter bees) in New Jersey USA for the past 5 weeks. I have questions and comments. Hopefully one or both of you might address:
1. Nirvana is photographing the insect in flight facing you. Problem: Most insects keep their backside to the sun. That means you are shooting into the sun. Insects fly and hover and dart about. You hope to get the insect hovering and facing you. That means very high shutter speed – in the case of a carpenter bee, the max freezing power of your camera – 1/8000th of a second. How do you contend with all of that. And, try to get a decent bokeh for the background.
2. Distance from the insect. It would be helpful if you would add to your shooting specs the distance: 8 ft or 8 inches from the end of the lens to the the insect (we are inches and pound people in the USA). I ask this because it is important for me to know how close you got to the insect. There are lens focusing problems – with a 200mm lens, you have to be standing at least 4 feet away from the insect. My Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 lens will not focus in less than 12 feet.
3. Photo finishing: Locking the maximum resolution of the insect into the photo. Now, I made some 100 shots of a “Tiger Beetle” – emerald-colored flying beetle with 6 white dots on the backside. As I cropped the photo to remove the garbage, the insect got larger and larger and larger. And, the sharpness of the insect got worse and worser and more worse. How do you lock in the best resolution when cropping out the bad stuff.
4. Aperture: With my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, I shot everything at 3.2. I am very unhappy with the results. The background was granite rock surface which was out of focus – looks like the surface of the moon and worse. That means bad bokeh for the resting insect – how do you cope with that. The beatle is great – every leg hair is in focus – but I have to shrink his size from 10 times life to something smaller and lock the smaller size to get sharpness, which is lost in my final images. My beatle on the screen is 6 inches long and 4 inches high.
Any help from anyone would be appreciated.
I don’t see a direct answer to your questions, so I will give it a try. I have been taking dragonflies pictures for some years with focus on in-flight pictures; if you look at my Flickr website there is an album with dragonflies in flight; it’s challenging but maybe some tips will help. As Maxime says knowing the subject, the local conditions etc., this is very important. While you can shoot resting dragonflies with almost any camera (including cheap compacts etc.) good in-flight shots have higher requirements for your equipment and I strongly recommend a good DSLR with a suitable lens. Don’t expect the DSLR to do everything for you: AF doesn’t work well for in-flight shots, so I take almost all pictures with manual focus (and often manual exposure as well).
1. exposure times: if you want completely sharp images in flight, you indeed need 1/4000 to 1/8000 sec. However, with normal lighting this would require extremely high ISO if you also want decent DOF and that means mediocre images. With the average focal length and distance for in-flight shots, with f/8 you cannot even have the whole subject in focus. So you need to compromise and I chose to use lower shutter speeds, sometimes even below 1/1000sec. There will be some wing blur, but I often like this better than a totally sharp ‘frozen’ image. Even 1/250s could work if the dragonfly is gliding or hovering, but very dynamic action like fighting or catching prey will require shutter times of around 1/3000 or faster.
2. The required combination of focal length and distance makes some gear less suitable than others. In general, you need a good quality prime or zoom in the 200-400mm range and with good MFD, e.g. about 1.5 meters for a 300mm lens. Many tele primes and zooms (including many bright and expensive ones) do not focus close enough and require extenders or closeup lenses, which is a hassle especially for in-flight shots because you have no time to change the gear. Personally I prefer 150-200mm for resting dragonflies and 300-400mm for in-flight shots. For in-flight there is another factor: the lens should be small and light, otherwise it is impossible to track the dragonfly or quickly point the camera when you see something; large lenses will severely limit your chances. I’m not very familiar with Nikon but (if money is no issue) I would chose the 4/300PF lens for dragonflies and similar insects in flight. On Canon the 4/300IS lens is quite popular for dragonflies (many also use a standard 100-180mm macro lens for when you can get closer).
3. I try to frame as closely as possible, but with in-flight shots you have to compromise due to fast motion. A dragonfly can move at over 10 meters per second, so in the blink of an eye it could be outside the field of view of the camera even if you try to track it. Although some species repeat their flight path (most species in my area do not do this) many also use unpredictable movements to avoid predators or surprise their prey. Observe before you try to take in-flight pictures, e.g. some species change their flight path/position every few seconds.
4. This partly depends on personal style, but if you want the insect reasonably big in the image (e.g. half of the frame) with an APS-C DSLR you are going to need at least f/8 to f/11 to have most of the subject reasonably sharp. And with most dragonflies even those apertures will not have everything in focus. If you really want the subject big with everything in focus, you need focus stacking. For more dynamic images focus stacking will not work, so you have to accept the limitations and work around them, e.g. by making sure that the eyes are in focus and the rest of the subject is less sharp.
thank you for your reply to my queries. I have downloaded you comments for future reference.
My experience with hovering carpenter bees should be similar to dragonflies. You need 1/8000 to freeze the erratic movement of the insect. But only 1/4000 to freeze the wings. But, you do lose sharpness with high ISO. You can not get very close. Shooting at 200mm f/8 produces a tiny image with decent DOF. Shooting at 400mm f/8 produces a larger image that is not in total focus or a partially blurred insect in flight.
The compromise can be to shoot when the insect is landing. See: www.uglyhedgehog.com/t-452…ml#7610530
Here, the photographer shot 10 FPS at a distance of 10 feet. A 200mm lens would do the job at a fairly high shutter
speed and aperture, like you said, of f/8 or better. My Nikon D810 can do only 5FPS.
In the end, my preference is to try to freeze the wings with motion blur of the flying/hovering insect. The image shows motion. And, more important, life. The linked photo is beautiful, if not perfect. But, it could be a photo of an embalmed insect behind glass in a museum of nature history.
Thank you again for your detailed comments.
Most of this is a matter of taste, what style and compromise you prefer. The image you linked looks fine but you don’t need high FPS or advanced cameras for such images. I have many in-flight images and never use high FPS or AF for in-flight shots because manual control works better. Examples see www.flickr.com/photo…7660741092, you can learn from the EXIF details below the individual images.
There is a French dragonfly photographer Ghislain Simard (should be easy to find on the web) who takes ‘ultrahighspeed’ high resolution images of dragonflies and butterflies in flight, using laser traps, expensive tele primes and an elaborate setup of flash units. The photos are often technically perfect and can be very beautiful, but also they are a bit dull because he has to wait until the dragonfly flies through the laser trap by chance. It’s impossible to control everything and take real action shots this way. But if you want the highest image quality and perfectly sharp wings this is probably the way too go. Even though this ‘high tech’ approach is not my taste I like his dragonfly book, and admire all the effort that went into its production.
Your photos are so superlative that it is beyond my ability to comprehend how you achieved such results. The EXIF details are not visible to me.
You must have been able to get very close to the flying insects – I mean less than 1 meter. If that is not the case, then please write two sentences for me and summarize how you made the photos. I am a fly fisherman and have fished on lakes and bogs where you see may dragonflies, damselflies and others. But, until 7 months ago, I did not take photography seriously. So, now I am striving to learn everything I can able make and finishing photos. I am closer to 74 than 73 and do not have much time left to learn. Thank you for any response. peter
Thanks for the compliment :-) Most of my recent DIF images were taken from 2-3 meters distance with a 300mm lens (my 300mm focuses down to 1.5 meters, so I cannot get closer even if I want). Many are full images, some are cropped to maybe 50% of the original image. My DIF album starts with some images from longer ago using a very basic DSLR with 2.8/200mm or even 105mm lens, the last half of the second page is more representative of what I can do now. There is some progress due to better equipment and more practice (my first DIF shots would not look good at large size like a 11×14″ poster, some more recent ones are perfectly sharp at that size). But waiting for the right moment, perseverance and luck is most important. Simply enjoy watching nature and learn their behavior.
Basically I try to ‘track’ the dragonfly when it is flying using manual focus and anticipate the right moment to take the shot when it is at the right spot and in focus. The viewfinder isn’t accurate enough for judging this quickly so many shots will have some focus error, but if you take enough shots you always end up with some good ones. My main problem is that many interesting activities are unpredictable, e.g. fighting males, dragonflies that hook up in flight for mating, catching prey etc. – in that case you have to react very quickly and they will fly unpredictably, so you need lots of luck to get even a decent shot.
There are a few images that were taken from close distance with a 100mm macro lens, like this one:
This blue-eyed hawker is very rare over here, I see one or two a year but I got some great shots. They are territorial and if you don’t scare them they will fly around to inspect you when you visit their patch. I could snap some shots with the macro lens, real easy (I didn’t even have the right settings because it was unexpected, but the full image has excellent detail).
Sounds like you know some good spots for practicing! In my area there are only two small ponds that attract dragonflies and like most ‘nature’ in Netherlands it is continually disturbed by people who are walking the dog and all kinds of other activities.
Seems the comment system ate my post so I will try again ;-)
Thanks for the compliment :-) My first DIF images (top of first album page) were taken years ago with a 105mm macro or 2.8/200mm tele lens. Most recent images (on second page) are from Canon 80D usually with 4/300IS lens. Any DSLR should be fine for this but you need a suitable tele prime or zoom. Although my images improved a bit over the years thanks to better gear, knowing dragonfly behavior, practice, perseverance and luck are far more important. Most images wee taken at 1.5-3 meters distance; my 300mm lens focuses down to 1.5m so I cannot come closer even if I want to (extenders or diopters are too much hassle for my taste). Images are usually slightly cropped, in some cases up to maybe 50% of full image. I haven’t yet come across a camera that has reliable autofocus for DIF shots, but maybe a Nikon D500 can pull it off?
A few images were taken from much closer like these from a blue-eyed hawker:
This species is territorial and if you don’t scare them they will come to inspect you when you visit their patch. Taking some shots with my 100mm macro lens was relatively easy even though the settings were not ideal. I was taking closeup pictures when suddenly this dragonfly appeared (a very rare species in my area). I didn’t expect an opportunity for such in-flight shots and didn’t have time to adjust the camera, these are some of the very few DIF shots with very fast shutter speed because the camera was on auto exposure ;-)
EXIF should be visible lower on the picture page, but it can take some time to appear (or maybe you need to be logged in as a Flickr member?).
I usually use manual focus and manual exposure, track the dragonfly with the camera and take the picture when the dragonfly is in the right spot and in focus. The viewfinder is not really accurate enough for judging this, but if you take plenty of shots you will have some keepers. The best advice I can give is to enjoy nature and watch the dragonflies, so you can better predict when you have the opportunity to get a good shot. Sounds like you know some good spots to practice dragonfly photography! In my area there are only two small ponds and like most ‘nature’ in Netherlands they are constantly disturbed by people who walk the dog or do other outdoor activities …