Pantala flavescens Globe Skimmer in Flight
In-flight dragon shots are always difficult You need that precision standard of focus with the complication that the bug is moving, and not particularly slowly either. Add to this, that the opportunities for the next single shot could be quite a wait.
The complication of the movement means that the relatively slow speeds of the flash range are not going to be of any use. So no secondary lighting and it is all about exposure times and available lighting.
If the day is overcast and dull, you might as well forget it and do something else. Ideally you want exp 4000th sec, ISO 400, F11. But for these settings, you are going to need arc lighting conditions. Settings have to be compromised.
I have a few very good shots as slow as 1000th sec, but I never go any slower. I control my setting from shutter priority mode.
The aperture setting needs to be small in order to achieve a depth of field. However if light is not perfect, aperture must be opened rather than compromising speed.
The ISO setting is a good way to maintain speed, but there is grain degredation, especially as you will be cropping in on the image. I have shot at ISO 2000 but it is woolly at best. I would say ISO 1000 is the limit for me.
If you keep the sun behind, you may be able to under expose by a stop, and pull the image back at the lab, during the editing process.
Focusing is not realistically possible, things just move too fast. You must first pay attention to the dragon movements, then pre-focus at a distance close enough to give you something to work with back at the lab, and far enough away to give you more successful shots. If you want a full screen 20Mp shot, it could take a couple of thousand clicks and several weeks. If you settle for a 1200px square, you might get half a dozen contenders in an hour and a hundred clicks.
The beauty of flavescens is that they fly in clouds and are inquisitive. If you keep still, they will explore you. I have arrived at the shoot with not a dragon in sight, and within the time it takes me to set-up, a dozen dragons arrive. This was when I was shooting them daily.
One last point; the DSLR and 105mm lens are heavy when continuously being held to the face. I use a monopod and tuck it into my trouser belt for continuous support.
Location is Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Alongside a stream and paddy fields.
''Pantala flavescens'', the Globe Skimmer or Wandering Glider, is a wide-ranging dragonfly of the family Libellulidae. This species and ''Pantala hymenaea,'' the "Spot-winged Glider", are the only members of the genus ''Pantala'' from the subfamily Pantalinae. It was first described by Fabricius in 1798. It is considered to be the most widespread dragonfly on the planet.