A little experiment involving the waxing crescent Moon, our pond, and the lights from neighboring properties….
The promise of sunrise beckoned me out of the house and into an unseasonably mild January morning. There was light fog around, lending a melancholy or mysterious mood to the scenery. Walking a bit, I gazed out across a small lake and watched geese warily watch me. I strolled through a nearby cemetery as the sun slipped nearer the horizon. A small pond reflected colors left over from autumn, tree branches, and grass green from recent warmth. The sun began to shine through bare trees and the fog burned off. The fog-touched morning magic was gone.
I thought dragonfly season was over. I’ve seen few of the beautiful beasties buzzing about in recent weeks and believed they were gone with the summer. I was wrong. Today we visited the Silver Creek Metro Park, Norton, Ohio, and did a little two-mile photo-walk. Around Piny Lake we spotted tiny dragonflies darting about, several coupled. I got my first images of coupled dragonflies in flight and my first shots of egg-laying activity! The (I believe) Yellow-legged Meadowhawks mate in the same fashion as other dragonflies: the male grasps the female using special pincers at the end of his tail, mating proceeds, and then the couple fly over water and she dips the end of her abdomen into the water repeatedly, depositing her fertilized eggs. It’s an amazing and very quick dance, difficult to follow and more difficult to image in the field; I’m glad for whatever measure of success displayed here!
During our visit to Schoepfle Garden I was able to continue my pursuit of dragonfly photographs. One beauty was (I believe) a Little Blue Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax minuscula) who alighted on a leaf not far from me on that very warm Sunday. I shot several photos in a series, hoping to draw closer and refine my focus. As I watched, he slowly raised his abdomen (tail) higher into the air, pointing towards the sky. I’d seen that behavior before though I don’t think I’ve ever photographed that pose. I thought the insect was advertising for a mate. Apparently it is understood that dragonflies take their “obelisking” posture in order to reduce their exposure to the sun in very hot weather. So it seems that, while a dragonfly may look sexy, it takes hot weather and not hot mates to inspire a Little Blue Dragonlet’s obelisking.
I'm preparing for a special public event tonight: Perseid Meteor Watch. The participating park system assigned us to a tiny county park. If we get a decent turnout, we'll be turning people away! Weather looks good. Must remember: telescope and all components (for looking at non-meteoric objects), camera, tripod, descriptive hand-outs, etc. The event runs from 9:30 to 11:30 PM so I'll probably be getting to be at about 1:30 AM tomorrow. I took today and tomorrow off.
As for the Canon Zoom Lens EF 17-40mm, f/4 L USM lens … well, let's just say I'm not thrilled with its performance now that it's back from a $100+ repair trip to New Jersey! My nature hike/test images today do not tell a happy story. The lens has significant chromatic aberration, does not seem to focus well across its field of view, and does not seem to consistently auto-focus. It works best in close quarters but not for panoramic landscapes. I've no choice but to use it tonight, hoping for a bright meteor streak or two but I'm not encouraged by what I'm seeing thus far.