Green Darner in flight

Another from my last trip to my favorite pond – favorite because it’s a manageable hike to the good spots with the heavy tripod and gimbal head, I’m in the shade, and if I take the longer road there’s a Starbucks on the way.

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Screen Shot 2022-08-21 at 2.32.19 PM
100-500 + 2X

This one was a noise challenge as he flew into the shade almost right in front of me, and I had to adjust Exposure in LR by 1.3 stops. Highlights down a little to darken the BG and Shadows up partway. Into PS for Topaz Denoise. Severe Noise was best this time as it cleaned up the darkest parts very nicely. This time I did look at all 4 models, and the only noticeable difference was in the darkest areas, where the other three left some noise. Cropped from the top and right to leave 80% of the full frame.


Wow Diane, you got this at 1/800 of a second! That’s impressive.
Thanks for the info on Topaz Denoise. Now we know Severe gets to the darkest parts while the others don’t.
The soft background really makes this little guy stand out!

Thanks @Mark_Muller! I’m always amazed at how often I can stop the wings on a DF in flight. I think it may be during the pause between beats. I’ll post below a few more where you can see the veins in at least one pair of the wings.

I wouldn’t bet that Severe Noise will always do better with shadow noise, as I don’t know how the algorithms actually work, but it’s sure worth looking at. I know I’ve used it on some images but don’t remember if it was for this same reason.

Here are 3 more from the same day that show the veins in the wings. These are just raw files with some basic Exposure - Shadow - Highlight adjustments and cropped to different extents. They all have some DOF issues as well as motion.

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These all look good, Diane. DOF is always a problem with dragonflies in flight unless they’re flying parallel to the camera. I see some motion blur in the wing tips, but the heads and abdomens of the ones coming at the camera are nice and sharp as are the centers of the wing in the last view. The Darner family make decent in-flight subjects because they tend to fly smoothly between their sharp turns and sometimes hover.

BTW noise is always worst in the darks, that’s when the signal variation due to the noise is similar in amount to the light. (If you have 5 electrons of noise in a signal of 20 electrons, it’s vastly worse than having those same 5 electrons of noise in a 10,000 electron signal. Camera chip maximum signals (“full well capacity”) usually exceeds 10,000 electrons, and depending on the size of the pixel may exceed 100,000 electrons)

Diane, I would be thrilled to capture one in flight, and here you have a handful of them! For me, if the head and abdomen is in focus, which in those flying towards the camera are, it is a complete success. I think you have managed the exposure well, and so any dark areas with noise aren’t visible to me (I have old eyes though). Maybe down at the creek at my brother’s when we get up there I can try capturing some DF’s in flight as well as perched, and even mating, who know what might show up. Your shots are encouraging to me with the R5 especially. Very nice group of shots, but the first one is my favorite.

The first one is my favourite too - wings pretty symmetrical, view of abdomen and sharp where it matters. I love how they tuck up the “undercarriage” when in flight! For my eye the motion blur is essential and best when similar in all four wings. The last shot is also very interesting and shows the vein structure well.

Number 2 in your series is just as good or better than your main posted image. Your technique has worked well and you have done very well with this dragonfly species. Awesome photos…Jim

Hi Diane, fine images of a difficult subject. As Shirley said, the front facing images are sharp where they need to be. well done!