My youngest daughter lives near the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in southern Washington State. My wife and I were visiting her this past June when I decided to see if I could get some good bird photos. The refuge is primarily inhabited by large numbers of migratory waterfowl in the spring and the fall and has a relatively small number of summer avian residents. However, last time I visited her in summer I got a pretty good shot of a fledgling great horned owl that is in my "Bird Gallery". So I decided to give it a shot.
I got out my 100-400mm zoom telephoto lens, popped it onto my Canon 5D Mark II camera body and left my other lenses including my macro at my daughter's house. I trekked down to the sanctuary and was walking along a dirt road on one of the dikes that impounds water for the waterfowl. However, at first I did not see a single bird, but I did see was lots of Tule Bluets, (a type of damselfly) flitting around near the ground with several pairs of them mating. There I stood, no macro, no standard length prime with close focus, and I had neither an extension tube nor a close-up lens to convert my telephoto zoom lens into a macro. I desperately wanted to get some macro shots of these damselflies but I just had my 100-400mm zoom telephoto lens.
After giving myself a mental tongue lashing for being too lazy to carry my macro lens with me, I decided to fiddled around with my camera settings for a while to see if I could salvage the situation. I took several test shots and inspected them on my camera's LCD and I came up with the following settings:
- ISO 800,
- 1/400 of a second,
- Image stabilizer optimized for still shots (it also can be optimized for panning shots),
- Manual focus (there was too much small linear plant material around the very small damselflies to get the autofocus to pick them out),
- Zoomed to 400MM focal length.
I stepped back in order to get the damselfly far enough away to have a plane of focus farther than the minimum focus distance of the lens. I squatted down to get as close to straight on shooting angle as possible and the resulting picture introduces this blog post