Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Small blue damselfly

with 36 comments

Small Blue Damselfly 9607

On July 24th, while exploring near the waterfall adjacent to Harrogate Dr. that I mentioned in yesterday’s deer post, I photographed a damselfly and its prominent shadow. This obliging insect, which wasn’t much more than an inch long (maybe 3 cm), appears to be one of the “dancers” that comprise the genus Argia. From a look at John C. Abbott’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas…., I’d say this is an Aztec dancer, Argia nahuana (Nahua is the Aztec word for ‘Aztec’).

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2014 at 5:53 AM

36 Responses

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  1. This is really nice for an image in strong overhead light, Steve. I like the shadow a lot.

    Steve Gingold

    August 28, 2014 at 6:16 AM

    • I know you’re fond of the early morning hours, Steve, but as you point out, this shadow was something made possible by a higher sun. In fact the shadow is as much the subject as the damselfly. As far as I can remember (and memory is certainly fallible), I don’t have a prominent shadow in any of the other dragonfly and damselfly pictures I’ve taken over the years.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 6:37 AM

  2. When I see an image such as this, as a zoologist, I can’t help but marvel at the wonder of animal architecture. When I see an image such as this, as a photographer, I can’t help but marvel at the wonder of animal coloration. And, when I see an image such as this, as an individual, I can’t help but marvel. How’s that for a poetic response to this very pleasing image? D

    Pairodox Farm

    August 28, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    • And when I see a comment such as this as a writer, I appreciate the parallelism of the first three sentences. That makes you a member in good standing of the SSS, or Society for Symmetrical Structures (which architects are allowed to join as well).

      Whenever I look at a damselfly, I can’t shake the impression that a part of its body, which would have continued where its wings are now, got chopped off irregularly to make a place to stick on those wings.

      And yes, the color of these creatures is wonderful. I wouldn’t mind being that color from time to time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 6:49 AM

  3. Beautiful blue.


    August 28, 2014 at 6:45 AM

    • I saw your comment immediately after writing the last sentence of my previous reply: ” I wouldn’t mind being that color from time to time.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 6:51 AM

  4. Strikingly lovely…and the light seems translucent, giving a clear image that conjures layers of life (wing, body and shadow).


    August 28, 2014 at 7:14 AM

  5. Nature has evolved a remarkable creature here. It happens so often. Seems there is a pattern.

    Jim in IA

    August 28, 2014 at 7:39 AM

  6. Another stunning image! Do you post your pictures on 500Px?


    August 28, 2014 at 1:45 PM

    • I haven’t done that, Kathy, but maybe I should check it out again (as I did a couple of years ago). I’ve put some photographs on Fine Art America.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      • Thanks for that link, Steve – I’ve just perused your photos on Fine Art America and love them! As for 500Px, I think your photos would do so well there – such exquisite detail, as in your captures, will be much appreciated on that site.


        August 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM

  7. Well done – capturing this impressive insect!


    August 28, 2014 at 5:30 PM

  8. I don’t think I’ve seen one of these gorgeous creatures. We have a common blue damselfly here named Argia sedula, but it has less blue and isn’t so striking. Your photo has a pronounced Southwestern feel, combining as it does the colors of turquoise and adobe. Beautiful.

    I had to smile at the shadow. Your damselfly isn’t the only one in Austin who casts a pretty long shadow. Stevie Ray wasn’t blue, but he sang the blues, and his statue’s a wonder.


    August 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    • That’s a good observation you make about a Southwestern feel. I’d also thought about the color of turquoise in connection with this little damselfly.

      Abbott’s book shows the Aztec dancer mostly absent from eastern Texas, but present in large parts of central Texas and the Hill Country, so maybe you’ll see one the next time you head west.

      I know that statue and its shadow, which is a rarity among sculptures. I don’t know if there’s ever a time when the statue’s actual shadow coincides with the fabricated one.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 7:45 PM

  9. I used to catch these and let them go when I was a kid. The ones I remember here in Florida were more black but had the blue tip. I always thought they were so cool looking!

    Michael Glover

    August 28, 2014 at 9:19 PM

    • They do look cool—and strange. The more colorful ones are my favorites. I’ve heard of catch and release with fish, but yours with damselflies is a first.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 10:30 PM

  10. I love the detail you captured around the eyes and the wings, it really gives your photo a lot of impact.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    August 28, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    • One advantage of the bright sunshine and the light-colored stone is that I was able to stop down to f/25 and keep all parts of the damselfly in focus. That accounts for the details (and impact, I’m glad to say) you’ve mentioned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 28, 2014 at 10:47 PM

  11. I love this “Aztec dancer”! In general I love dragonflies, they look so gracious, fragile and the coloration is always so intense, bright just like this fellow! Beautiful creatures, great shot!


    August 28, 2014 at 11:03 PM

  12. I love the photo and just met someone with a new bridge camera and she had photographed many dragonflies. Wonder whether that would suit me as animals move fast. You seem good on identification and I just found our field guide in an unpacked box but guess it might be too late now August is out.


    August 31, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    • I gather that many bridge cameras have multi-X zooms that would allow photographing skittish subjects from rather far away. I occasionally use my 70—200mm lens with 1.4X extender zoomed to the maximum to photograph small things, like the dragonfly at


      For the most part, though, I try to get close with my 100mm macro lens, as I did with this damselfly. Of course it’s harder to get close, but I find that I’m usually happier with the pictures I get that way.

      When it comes to identifying what I photograph, I wish I knew more, but my primary energy goes into the photographing. I consult various field guides and online sources, but a fair number of things elude me.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2014 at 3:55 PM

      • Thanks for that as will finally have to choose a suitable camera. It is really specialist knowledge identifying some creatures. We find our local field guides help the most as it is based very much on what the specialists have found in our region!


        August 31, 2014 at 3:59 PM

        • My primary subjects are the native plants of central Texas, and in accord with what you say, I’ve found the most helpful guide to be Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country, which deals only with the central part of the state, as opposed to books that deal with all of Texas (necessarily in a less thorough way for any given region).

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2014 at 4:20 PM

          • Sounds good and very specific.


            September 1, 2014 at 2:18 AM

            • Even a book fairly limited in its geographic range, like the one I mentioned, can’t show all the species found there, but in this case the author was good at including most of the species I regularly encounter.

              Steve Schwartzman

              September 1, 2014 at 6:38 AM

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