Blue dragonfly and water lilies

This is a quick reminder that my 2015 nature photography calendars are now available for saleYou can choose from five different nature themes: a year in Southern California, bees and other insectswater lilies, flowers and blooms, and water. These 2015 photo calendars make a unique Thanksgiving or holiday gift to give a teacher, a friend, a colleague, or a family member. I thank you for your purchase and your support.

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I love dragonflies but they’re quite hard to find and photograph since they don’t like to sit still. Did you know dragonflies are the fastest insects in the world? They can even fly backwards, hover and make U-turns at full speed. I guess those two sets of wings come in really handy when they’re hungry. And they do eat a lot of bugs, which is convenient for us.

It was my lucky day a few months ago when I spotted this blue dragonfly standing on a dead leaf over a pond covered with lily pads. I was even luckier to have some beautiful water lilies to include in the background of my pictures. I first captured the blue dragonfly with a pink water lily in the same shot.

Blue dragonfly and pink water lily
Blue dragonfly and pink water lily
Close-up of a blue dragonfly and pink water lily
Close-up of a blue dragonfly and pink water lily

Then I just had to point my camera a bit to the left and capture the same blue dragonfly with a white water lily in the background. How nice is that?

Blue dragonfly and white water lily
Blue dragonfly and white water lily

I can’t put even a finger on a dead leaf without breaking it, but it seemed like a nice stand for this dragonfly.

Close-up of a blue dragonfly on a dead leaf
Close-up of a blue dragonfly on a dead leaf

“Capture The Colour 2013” photo contest

Fellow photography blogger Cee recommended me for the “Capture The Colour 2013” photo contest in her post yesterday. When I read the contest’s terms & conditions, I realized the contest was opened until October 9, 2013. That’s tomorrow, yikes! Since the contest holder is in the UK, I figured I had very little time to enter.

Here are my entries for each color theme: yellow, green, blue, red and white. I’m also supposed to recommend this contest to 5 fellow bloggers so here’s my pick. If I didn’t name you and still want to participate, you have a few more hours to do so.

Remember you can click on each photo for a larger view.

YELLOW – I took this photo of a beautiful sunflower just yesterday. This is my very first sunflower and I tried to fill my frame with it as much as I could, letting the great blue sky fill the rest.

Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest - yellow sunflower
Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest – yellow sunflower

GREEN – this photo of a raindrop on a grass blade seems to be a favorite so it was an easy choice for the green theme. I love the grass blade reflections in the raindrop.

Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest - green grass with raindrop
Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest – green grass with raindrop

BLUE – this was my very first dragonfly and it happened to be blue. Since then, I’ve photographed more dragonflies, all orange.

Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest - blue dragonfly
Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest – blue dragonfly

RED – I love bees and I love bottle brush tree flowers. This photo is the best of both worlds for me, and a brand new photo on this site.

Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest - red bottle brush flower with bee
Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest – red bottle brush flower with bee

WHITE – I photographed this beautiful great egret this past weekend. Such a proud bird owning the water’s edge.

Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest - white great egret
Capture The Colour 2013 photo contest – white great egret

Macro Monday: under a blue dragonfly

Today I’m taking part in the Macro Monday photo challenge. Remember you can click on each photo for a larger view. If you like what you see, I encourage you to subscribe so you can enjoy the new photos I post a few times a week.

Sometimes you don’t have a lot of options when you photograph your subject. You can’t get to the right angle, the sun in on the wrong side, you can’t get close enough, etc.  When I spotted the blue dragonfly below, it stayed put, high perched on a tree branch, and didn’t move anywhere else the whole thing I tried to photograph it. So I decided to photograph it from underneath and hoped something good would come out of it. I think my favorite part of this dragonfly on all photos I got is its intricate wings that seem to glitter in the sunlight. I was lucky to have a bright blue sky to use as a background that day.

Macro Monday: underneath a blue dragonfly
Macro Monday: underneath a blue dragonfly
Macro Monday: blue dragonfly on tree branch
Macro Monday: blue dragonfly on tree branch
Macro Monday: blue dragonfly wings
Macro Monday: blue dragonfly wings

My very first orange dragonfly

I know I promised you some photos of the beautiful Ramona lilacs I spotted a couple of weeks ago during a hike and I’m still working on these photos. But today I’d like to share something quite special because this is a first for me: my first photo of an orange dragonfly. Remember you can click on the photos below for a larger view.

Last year I posted my first (and only) photo of a blue dragonfly. I felt it was beginner’s luck and now I know it really was. Have you ever watched dragonflies? They never stop flying, literally. They only stop for a minute at a time, and that’s for a total of a few hours a day. So if you see one stop by next to you, enjoy it while it lasts.

Dragonflies are different from damselflies, which are a lot smaller. We had one of them enter our home last week and it landed on the window blinds, longing to go back out. I helped it find its freedom back. Phew!

Blue damselfly
Blue damselfly

These damselflies are everywhere right now, and they’re quite people friendly. Dragonflies are harder to spot. So when I saw a large orange dragonfly fly over my head while walking through the San Diego Botanic Garden, I had my fingers crossed. After circling a few times, the dragonfly landed on a brush twig and it didn’t take me long to realize what it was doing. It was surveying its next lunch, a bunch of bees snacking on the nectar of a bush in bloom.

I had to figure out how to take a picture of a fleeting dragonfly while being surrounded by busy bees. And guess what? I got my one shot. And guess what else? It was my only shot, because the dragonfly didn’t like me ruining its cover and it flew away.

Lucky me, the shot was perfectly in focus. This is what I got:

Orange dragonfly
Orange dragonfly

Now I’m thinking of cropping this photo a bit but I’m not sure which way will look best so I’m asking for your honest opinion.

Here’s crop option #1, with a similar composition as the first photo, but zoomed in. The dragonfly is in the bottom right corner.

Zoom of an orange dragonfly
Zoom of an orange dragonfly

Here’s crop option #2, where the dragonfly is more in the top right corner. I tend to favor this one shot.

Close-up of an orange dragonfly
Close-up of an orange dragonfly

Here’s crop option #3, where the dragonfly is centered in the middle of the photo, towards the top.

Macro of an orange dragonfly
Macro of an orange dragonfly

And here’s crop option #4, in a vertical format, making the stick stand out more. This is more zoomed in on the dragonfly so you can see its details better but of course the photo files ends up being a little smaller since it’s cropped quite a lot from the original file.

Orange dragonfly resting on a stick
Orange dragonfly resting on a stick

Which cropping option do you like best? Or do you like the original photo best? Thanks for helping me out!

Let’s Be Wild Weekly Photo Challenge – Distant

I’m participating in the online adventure travel and outdoor photography magazine LetsBeWild.com’s Wild Weekly Photo Challenge for bloggers. This week’s Challenge is distant.

I have a 12x optical zoom on the camera I take with me most often. It doesn’t allow me to zoom very far but it’s usually good enough to capture what I can see with the naked eye. For this “distant” theme, I decided to focus on animals that fly (but are sitting still at the time), since they are the ones I mostly have to zoom on to capture on camera. Here are a few recent shots, and a couple of older ones. Remember you can click on each photo for a larger view.

I took the first photo this past weekend at Dos Picos County Park, not far from San Diego, California. This red-tailed hawk was sitting at the top of a tall sycamore tree and being very noisy, so I thought he deserved to have his picture taken. We have a lot of red-tailed hawks around and it’s always a treat to watch the male and female hunt for food for their young together.

Let's be wild weekly photo challenge - distant red tailed hawk
Let’s be wild weekly photo challenge – distant red tailed hawk

I took the next photo last week at the San Diego Zoo. I believe this blue heron is a local freeloader since they water basin was mostly occupied by reptiles – turtles and crocodiles. This big guy was eyeing the little fish swimming in the water and slowly walking towards them for a taste.

Let's be wild weekly photo challenge - distant blue heron
Let’s be wild weekly photo challenge – distant blue heron

This little guy below is a Stellar jay bird. Isn’t he beautiful? I took his photo in Idyllwild, California, where there are a lot of these birds. What’s interesting is, we only live two hours away from Idyllwild and we have regular blue jays here, but no Stellar jay birds.

Let's be wild weekly photo challenge - distant Stellar jay bird
Let’s be wild weekly photo challenge – distant Stellar jay bird

I love this last photo of a blue dragonfly. We have a lot of orange/red dragonflies here and I still have to take a few photos of them, but this is the only blue dragonfly I’ve seen. I feel lucky to have been able to capture it with my camera, since dragonflies can fly for hours without taking a break.

Let's be wild weekly photo challenge - distant blue dragonfly
Let’s be wild weekly photo challenge – distant blue dragonfly

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