Yesterday I led 12 photographers from the Central Texas NANPA (North American Nature Photographers Association) meetup group to the Zilker Botanical Gardens on Barton Springs Road. The focus of the trip was macro: flowers, dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and whatever else we could turn up. I have found that when attempting macro photography, I am much better off finding a spot and then giving it time for the odonates (dragonflies & damselflies) and butterflies time to fly to me. In addition to being patient, I have found that manual focusing and flash is also critical for super sharp macro shots.
I had two setups with me. The primary setup for dragonflies, large damselflies and other subjects is my Canon 7D with the Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L lens with 50mm of Canon Extension Tubes which helps reduce my minimum focusing distance thus allowing me plenty of working space to keep from scaring the bugs off but still lets me fill the frame with their image. This setup also relies on a tripod and Canon 580 EX II flash. On a Rapid Strap (sport model) I have the Canon 1D Mark III attached to my Sigma 180 f/3.5 lens which I LOVE! This older lens has amazing image quality, focusing speed/accuracy, and is tough to find but hard to beat at around $450 to $500 used!
I was the last to leave around 11:00 am and here are some of my favorite shots from the day. Being able to photograph the ovipositing (depositing eggs in the water) Blue Dasher was the highlight of the day for me! Watch for a “How to Photograph Dragonflies/Damselflies Workshop” in the near future.