Beware The Shadow

Tips from an Amateur Photographer

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I think this tip may be applicable to taking pictures of a lot of creatures, but I think it is particularly true in the case of some insects, especially dragonflies.  It's not based specifically on the technical aspects of the insects or any research, but on my personal observations.  And I figure why not take it into consideration when I can.

Dragonflies and damselflies have extremely sensitive vision.  You can see how this is likely true by considering the relative size of their eyes compared to the rest of their head or body.  And it only  makes sense how sensitive their sight is when you consider their flying abilities. That has to take some pretty good sight.

 Even though they have sensitive vision it is not necessarily like ours of course.  They are much more sensitive to changes in the intensity of the light.  In fact, assessing changes in light intensity is one of the  tools a dragonfly uses in navigating when flying.   Many other insects also have extreme sensitivity to changes in light along with other creatures.

 So, when you approach a dragonfly or damselfly (or many other creatures) to take a photo try to make sure your shadow doesn't proceed you if at all possible.   Don't let it fall across the subject.  Try not to let it even fall under the  subject if it is perched high.   If possible try to approach from a direction where your shadow is behind you.

Of course some insects sometimes seem almost oblivious to your shadow,  particularly some that are heavily engaged in feeding such as a bee on a flower.   

But, I have noticed reactions to a shadow passing over them even in fish.  Standing at the edge of relatively shadow water with small fish visible I could wave my arms and the fish would not respond.  If I slowly moved my arm to where its shadow crossed over the fish, however, they would almost always respond.  I've seen some respond to the degree that I could actually 'herd' them along the shoreline for a few feet chasing them just with a shadow.


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