In nature photography, in this part of the country, there is a season for everything. You get one shot at it for the year, and then the opportunity is lost until next year. This is dragonfly season.
I am fascinated by dragonflies. I’m not sure why. Perhaps, it’s the challenge they present. They’re small, the move fast and they don’t sit still very long. It’s tough to choose your composition, focus and shutter speed in the 1.2 seconds you usually get between the time they land on something and then take off again. It’s so frustrating, but they’re just beautiful, and up close, their little faces seem to have expressions. I love that they come in so many colors and varieties.
In the past month, I have spent hours chasing them. Quietly sitting in the brush at the edge of the neighbor’s pond, waiting for them to land somewhere close to me and praying a snake didn’t slither through the foliage and over my feet. I should have been praying that the chiggers stayed away from the waistband of my underwear.
Every night after dinner, I would hop on the golf cart and zip over to the pond. Watching. Waiting. Stalking the little wisps of color buzzing back and forth near the bank. They rarely landed, and when they did, they would be gone in a split second. Or they landed so far away, they would be just out of reach.
I studied them. I read about them. I tried every technique I could think of to get them to show up and sit still for me. And night after night I came home empty handed. Until one night about a week and a half ago.
I drove over to the pond and saw one dragonfly. And because I’m stubborn if nothing else, I commenced to stalking. The first thirty minutes yielded nothing. It was one of those blue and brown “skimmers” that Google tells me rarely lands. Google was right. But then, as I leaned farther out into the brush along the edge of the water (please, God, don’t let there be a snake), I stirred up two dragonflies that had been hidden somewhere in the weeds. They buzzed a little and then one landed right in front of me, and it stayed there. Hallelujah! I shot away. And then the other landed nearby. It stayed, too. It was if they talked amongst themselves, and said, “Hey, let’s just give her what she wants and maybe she’ll go away.” Or perhaps they were just tired. Whatever the reason, those two and the skimmer played on the weeds around me, sitting still for long periods of time while I shot for an hour and a half. I could not have been more entertained if I had been watching Forrest Gump. The two dozen chigger bites I got from doing that? Not so entertaining.