Black-tailed skimmer

Orthetrum cancellatum

The black-tailed skimmer, ''Orthetrum cancellatum'', is a European and Asian dragonfly. It occurs nearly all over Europe except northern UK and Scandinavia; to the east, the range extends to Kashmir and Mongolia.
Black-tailed Skimmer - front III, Heeswijk, Netherlands Female, found on a fallen tree. I'll use this sequence to document my general approach for photographing an active (daylight) dragonfly once located. It's not rocket science, and not all dragonflies behave the same, but just sharing experiences. Main steps:

1. Registration shot. Take a somewhat distance shot to secure the observation. My camera has so much crop room that sometimes with just the registration shot I can crop out a reasonable closeup.

2. Approach. The process of moving closer as well as getting to eye level. When approaching from the back, do not ever break their light, and try to get towards one of their sides very slowly without causing any movement in vegetation. It very much sees your movement in any case, you just need to trick it into not seeing it as a threat. Approaching from the front is easier, somehow they are more tolerant there.

3. Take the shots, many of them, moving in a few mm each time. Move a few inches back and try a different angle. Flash does not seem to matter, they tolerate it well, unlike butterflies.

4. With the main shots secured, you can consider adding a bit of creativity, trying weird angles or focusing on different body parts.

Lighting setup used: Black-tailed skimmer,Europe,Heeswijk-Dinther,Netherlands,Orthetrum cancellatum,World


The adult male has a blue abdomen with a black tip and transparent wings, and the female has a yellow body with black bands along the abdomen and transparent wings. Even the immature males look that way.
Black-tailed skimmer - side view, Berghem, Netherlands This is the female, which is yellow, whereas the male is blue. Berghem,Black-tailed skimmer,Europe,Geotagged,Netherlands,Orthetrum cancellatum,Summer,World


This species has expanded its range, assisted by the creation of gravel pits which give it the extensive open unvegetated areas it prefers. It was first recorded in Great Britain in Essex in 1934. It is decreasing rapidly in the Maltese Islands.


Some text fragments are auto parsed from Wikipedia.

SpeciesO. cancellatum