Dragonfly bug eyes

A May day at the Venetian Gardens in Leesburg, Florida. This bug-eyed beauty patiently posed for me while the lens took forever to focus. I didn’t have enough DOF, though, so the tail softened up, which led me to crop to the head and body, with the benefit of highlighting the compound eyes. Apparently they see the world as a mosaic of a million tiny pictures, which would give me a migraine in seconds.

Type of Critique Requested

  • Aesthetic: Feedback on the overall visual appeal of the image, including its color, lighting, cropping, and composition.
  • Technical: Feedback on the technical aspects of the image, such as exposure, color, focus and reproduction of colors and details, post-processing, and print quality.

Specific Feedback and Self-Critique

I love the colors and the detail. But does this cropping work?

Technical Details

Panasonic G9 body with PL 100-400 lens at 400mm, f/11, 1/1000sec, ISO640. Processed in PS.


Good choice to crop out the OOF tail. We don’t need to see the rest of the critter to know what it looks like. With all the DOF you did get in the interesting bits, I think that is enough. The P/L 100-400 is my dragonfly hunter, too. I love it for that and have recently purchased some extension tubes to see what else I can do with a little closer focusing distance. I didn’t really buy them for this lens, but what the heck.

Anyway…I like the detail in the eyes and the shoulders, especially the wing attachment. The colors look rich and distinct from each other. Great background, too. It must have been really far from other stuff which is nice. No improvements come readily to mind.

Paul, these guys can be fun to photograph. I talk to them in a nice calm voice as I inch closer to them and take my shots. As @_Kris pointed out, we don’t need the tail, and what you have here is with good DOF. A nice smooth BG that compliments the colors in the dragonfly’s eyes. I do love the composition.

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Thanks, Kristen. I’d enjoy hearing more about extension tubes, if you don’t mind.

Hey Paul, no problem - these tubes specifically or generally? Why I want them or why anyone would? Don’t want to give you info you already have.

I really don’t know anything about extension tubes (or if I did I’ve forgotten). What are they used for generally? Why and how do you use them? And what tubes did you get for your MFT system? Thanks in advance!

Paul, this is a great looking view. Any time you catch this much detail in the eye facets you’ve done well. Without knowing the exact specifications, you lens probably offers close focusing to about 1/3 life size, which works well on dragonflies. Extension tubes do allow for closer focusing, with the trade-off of reducing dof. You can estimate the extra magnification from the extension tubes by looking at the ratio of extension length to lens focal length. Thus, 30mm extension at 100 mm would give you about a 30% increase in magnification (30/100). The same tube at 400 would only give a 7.5% increase (which is not much). The other potential issue with extension tubes is coverage, as you increase the magnification, you may find that you see vignetting in the corners. I see vignetting when I add 36mm extension to my 180 macro and go toward maximum magnification (1/1). The amount of dof for a given focal length and f-stop is fixed by laws of optics. As I look at this, you have good sharpness from the face to the back of the front wing. Given how big the df is as you have presented this, that tells me that this is a significant crop, which doesn’t change the quailty of the view unless you want to make a big print or show this on a large screen.

Thanks for the great info.

A better write up than I could have done, so thanks for that Mark.

The tubes I bought are Kenko / Tokina and there is a 10mm and a 16mm. They have the proper electronic connections so the lenses will stop down. So far I like using them on my 35-100 f/2.8 and the 100-300 f/4-5.6 although it’s the former I bought these for. It’s such a sharp lens and I LOVE the focal length, just wish it would focus closer sometimes. I haven’t done much testing with them, but they could be useful in addition to my regular macro lens which is the P/L 45mm f/2. I even tried it on that and I have to practically touch the lens to the subject, so I may not use it on that one as much. Mostly I’m looking to work with insects come summer.

I like the cropping, Paul. It’s always really difficult to get all 4 wings of a dragonfly in focus, as well as the body in focus at the same time as the wings. As Kris said, we can imagine the rest of the critter anyway. I’ll definitely try out this approach when the dragonflies start to emerge again. Beautiful colours too!

Paul: I’m late to this party but this is excellent. I love the colors and the detail in the eyes. Just a superbly crafted image.

Some other considerations about tubes is that you lose the ability to focus at infinity although in a situation where you would be using tubes you probably won’t be focusing back out to the distance. They can also be a little bit of a challenge on a zoom. If you change the zoom the focus changes too. Be sure the tubes you buy will communicate with your lens and camera body or you’ll be cursing them. I’ve been there and done that! The Kenko tubes that Kris mentioned work well on my Sony system although I have different tubes for my mirrorless and DSLR lenses.

I don’t have much to say other that Wow! This is just stunning!