Flame Skimmer

Yesterday I made it back to my favorite dragonfly pond again – not excellent by general standards but the best option within half an hour. Was there 90 min, shooting stacks with so-so opportunities, and downloaded 1700 images!!! The greatest challenge isn’t shooting but asset management. Thanks be for LR’s ability to group images shot within a specified time frame. Setting 2 seconds gives me neat groups of the different stacks. A quick scan thru each lets me delete the ones with subject movement. (Dragonflies twitch a lot.)

Specific Feedback Requested

All comments welcome!

Technical Details

Canon R5, 100-500 + 2X at 1000mm, ISO 800, 1/320 at f/14. Shot focus stacks of 25 at the closest spacing and deleted the ones ahead and behind the desired near and far focus points. Didn’t keep data on how many in each stack but most were about 15-20 frames. Minimal shadows/highlights in LR, then exported to Zerene Stacker with the plug-in. DMap stack and into PS for NR (hardly needed) and cloning of stacking artifacts. This one had a few, but some, where there was no subject movement, needed none.


“Asset management” and “sorting”… you can say that again, Diane! I pull about the same number of shots per shoot and realized that my old manual system of sorting was at breaking point, so started using LR in the last couple of weeks. Life saver! (though I still prefer ACR for editing RAW). I was wondering, do you shoot both RAWs and JPGs? I am asking this, because I’m thinking of doing without JPGs altogether but am not sure because they sometimes provide a good basis for editing, particularly in terms of colour and sharpness.

This shot is fantastic again. Love the glint on the shiny head like a high-tech visor and the little bit of fluff hanging from the lower right wing. Really fine details. You’re building a very nice series, indeed!

OMG I know exactly what you mean - between stacking and pre-capture shots, it can be overwhelming. But it’s worth it. The detail here is outstanding! Wingtip to wingtip and head to tail - unusual in dragonfly photos because we didn’t have this technology yet. Super background, too.

Hi Diane, very nice use of focus stacking - the dragonfly is completely sharp throughout. Nice diagonal perch and the background is terrific. I don’t think the pose of the dragonfly is ideal since it is angled with the head away from us. The lower perch might could be darkened some but that is a nit. A pleasing image.

Diane, this is really nice! I like how you’ve used the focus stack to keep the Dragonfly in focus but the background out. Nicely done.

I know what you mean about asset management. Quite a challenge sometimes. I’ve found that since I can merge my focus stacks in Raw and save them as a DNG file I can delete the individual shots and just keep the stacked one. Yes, I might once in a while regret that and want to redo the stack, but most of the time I am quite happy with the stacked image. And since it’s a raw file, I can tweak to my heart’s content.

Anyway, terrific image here.

Nice details throughout the subject, Diane. You really have learned to maximize the ability of stacking it seems. I too would prefer seeing more of his face and eyes, but nature doesn’t always provide the ideal pose and situation. I love the diagonal line of the perch. That BG is really nice too.

Thanks everyone! I usually darken the ends of perches but looks like I didn’t here.

@David_Bostock, what software are you using to get a stacked image that’s still raw? I’ve heard that Helicon does that, then read that it’s really been processed as a TIFF or JPEG that’s then been re-packaged as a DNG, which wouldn’t have the tonal overhead of the original raws. Thoughts??

@LauraEmerson, I went digital in 2004 (I think) with the Canon 20D and shot a few JPRG + raw, and have hardly shot a JPEG since, except with IR (Super Color filter) to compare with my homebrew color temp correction profile on the raws.

@Diane_Miller Ha interesting, thank you for your reply. I suppose the time has come for me to make the shift, as I haven’t edited a jpg in years when I think about it.

This whole series of images has worked out well. This is very impressive detail and color. I like the composition and the use of diagonal elements.

Hi @Diane_Miller I believe Helicon does keep things in DNG format throughout the stacking process. I can see the individual files are DNG in the app and the saved stacked file is DNG with all the resolution and dynamic range as the raw files.

Here’s some info on Helicon Raw-in-DNG-out mode

I use it with Capture One, but it works the same in Lightroom. Here’s a YouTube of things as they work in Lightroom: Helicon Focus - Raw-in-DNG-out mode


@David_Bostock, that’s impressive – I’ll have to give it a try! In practical reality, for now I have the tonal range control I’m happy with, with linear profiles for extreme cases. But there is always what tomorrow may bring…

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Many thanks, @Shirley_Freeman (and anyone else?) for the EP!! Dragonflies are little jewels!

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