Dragonfly coexistence

This is from last summer – I spotted these two sharing a perch – Eight-spotted Skimmer on top and Widow Skimmer on the bottom – and managed to grab a few shots. The perch was angled away from me and I was on a tripod so I was able to pull focus quickly and get a frame with each one in focus.

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Canon 1DX2, 100-400 II + 1.4X III, 560mm, ISO 1600, 1/800 sec. (Could have backed off that a bit…) Minimal tonal adj’s in LR, stacked the two in PS, did Topaz DeNoise on each and hand masked to combine. Then blurred the BG quite a bit. The version of DeNoise that I had a year ago didn’t do a great job so I redid the image with the latest version and it worked much better. The earlier version didn’t cover some of the BG areas well.


What a great pair of dragonflies! I love the similar colours, but different patterns. And their slightly different angles to the perch are well-matched. Enough blurring of the BG too to make it interesting. Just one technical question: if you stacked the two images, why did you also need to “hand mask to combine”? I thought the stacking would have combined them, but then I’m not sure what hand masking is!

They look great together and all the processing does them justice. I can’t get it to open large, but the details look good in the small one.

I can’t either, Kris. Seems like there is something going on with the website. stay tuned.

Thanks guys! @Mike_Friel, the abdomen tip of the top one was in focus in both frames but both twitched a little between the 2 frames, which wouldn’t work for stacking programs. But it was so easy to stack them as layers in PS and tweak alignment with Difference mode – necessary because when I refocused using the focus ring on the lens, I moved the camera just a twitch. Then it was so easy to mask out the top layer with an all-black mask* and paint back in with white where the top layer (also the top dragonfly) was sharper.

  • In PS, hold down Alt/Opt and click the mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel. That gives an all-black mask, blocking the entire layer. A white brush will paint areas back in.
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@DianeMiller - many thanks; this technique is so useful.

Diane: What a great find and a really good effort to get to the final result. Spectacular image. >=))>

It is nice getting 2 species in one shot. This is a fairly good image for dragonfly identification. I like the soft BG which enables those detailed odonates to display perfectly. Awesome shot…Jim