Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Dragonfly atop horsetail

with 56 comments

Dragonfly on Horsetail Strobilus 2189

From August 26th alongside the pond behind the Central Market on North Lamar (on the same outing that recently brought you a closeup of a rain-lily), here’s a dragonfly that I take to be a male blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, clasping the strobilus of a horsetail, Equisetum spp. For a much closer look at the dragonfly’s face, click the thumbnail below. For a closer look at the dashing male (but not blue) photographer’s face, come visit me in Austin.

Dragonfly on Horsetail Strobilus 2189 Detail

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 13, 2015 at 5:12 AM

56 Responses

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  1. Maybe you are an incognito Avatar.


    September 13, 2015 at 5:41 AM

  2. What big eyes you have.

    Excellent close shot.

    Jim in IA

    September 13, 2015 at 6:56 AM

  3. What a fabulous photo. Not only that, I think it’s the same species as a dragonfly I photographed at Anahuac. Unfortunately, I had to be satisfied with a rear-end view rather than his face, and the photo’s mostly out of focus, but the colors and the wings seem identical. The good news is that I finally managed to capture one that was sitting still. One step at a time!


    September 13, 2015 at 7:51 AM

    • Even though I have a good book about the dragonflies and damselflies of Texas, I still have trouble identifying a species, so when I say “here’s a dragonfly that I take to be a male blue dasher,” I’m leaving some wiggle room.

      Like you, I’ve often encountered a dragonfly sitting in the wrong position for a good picture. With patience and good luck I’ve sometimes managed to get a better view, but many dragonflies have gotten away without my getting a decent photograph. I’m glad to hear you found at least one that was content to sit still for a while.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      • Dragons are such fascinating subjects; I never seem to tire of playing the patient stalking game with them. They are often quite accommodating in that many will return to the same perch repeatedly, so it pays to focus on the spot and wait. This is a gorgeous portrait–I can feel your elation as this came to fruition. Southern views of north-facing critters can be interesting, too, but it’s special when face-to-face works out!


        September 13, 2015 at 9:22 AM

        • I’ve often patiently played that “wait till it returns to the same perch I inadvertently just chased it away from” game, though sometimes it goes to a nearby perch instead and then I have to try to move over without creating too much of a stir. After four or five changes of venue I usually give up on that dragonfly: after all, there’ll always be another one coming along, especially if I’m near water.

          If I’m behind a dragonfly I usually try to move to a better position or wait and hope that my subject will turn around. Once in a while, though, I’ve gotten an acceptable picture from behind:


          In today’s picture I was grateful for having the strobilus as the perch and for managing to get it in focus along with the dragonfly’s face and legs.

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 13, 2015 at 9:39 AM

  4. Excellent shot, Steve. You managed to get the face and stay parallel to all four wings…but you already knew that.

    Steve Gingold

    September 13, 2015 at 9:56 AM

    • And as you knew, in this head-on shot I was trying to keep the plane of the face parallel to the plane of the camera’s sensor. I didn’t expect to keep much of the wings in focus, but I did get some parts.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2015 at 10:02 AM

  5. What a good idea, a dragonfly mask. If you could get all those lenses for the eyes, wouldn’t that be something? Hmmm. Ideas swirling in my head. Kinda like a strobilus.


    September 13, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    • You’re the artist, Melissa, so go for it, girl,
      And let’s see your creation make our heads swirl.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2015 at 10:58 AM

  6. Ooh lal la – what a dasher! I can never get one to rest, let alone focus on it like this. Baby steps…


    September 13, 2015 at 11:59 AM

    • Babies do eventually learn to walk.

      When I was out taking pictures a couple of months ago I encountered two guys who each had a long telephoto lens and a monopod attached to his camera. They were out looking for dragonflies, and their equipment let them zoom in close while keeping enough physical distance to keep from chasing their subjects away. I did my picture the hard way, slowly getting in close with a 100mm macro lens.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2015 at 12:04 PM

  7. Awesome capture Steve


    September 13, 2015 at 2:08 PM

  8. Wow, you images are consistently good, but this is just absolutely stunning.

    Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    September 13, 2015 at 2:19 PM

  9. Outstanding close up. Thank you.


    September 13, 2015 at 2:50 PM

  10. Could you get a more perfect shot, Steve? The combination of the dragonfly with those amazing blue eyes and the delicately detailed horsetail is superb. When the money tree starts to flower I will visit you in Austin to judge the level of “dashing-ness.” 🙂


    September 13, 2015 at 6:48 PM

    • In my photography I’m trying to live up to the Constitution of my country, the preamble of which begins: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union….”

      May your money tree flower, Jane, so you can dash over here and see the dashingness.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 13, 2015 at 6:54 PM

  11. Very dashing but the expression ‘to go blue in the face’ also comes to mind.


    September 14, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    • I just hope I don’t go blue in the face (or red, for that matter) from all the dashing around I do in the heat with a heavy camera bag.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2015 at 2:40 PM

  12. Me parece una libélula preciosa y una extraordinaria foto. ¡Enhorabuena!
    Estoy preparando una entrada para mi blog con libélulas.
    Un abrazo.

    Isabel F. Bernaldo de Quirós

    September 14, 2015 at 3:39 PM

  13. What a marvelous photo of the closeup view of a dragon fly’s face – and those exquisite gossamer wings. A striking photo, Steve.

    Mary Mageau

    September 14, 2015 at 9:04 PM

    • Aren’t dragonflies wonderful? We have many kinds in Austin, Mary, and I see some almost every time I go out in nature near a pond or creek. Sometimes I’m surprised to see them when there’s no water near by.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2015 at 11:00 PM

    • By the way, since you’ve mentioned gossamer wings, I like the way the strobilus of the horsetail mimics that with its division into cells.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 14, 2015 at 11:01 PM

  14. Spectacular!


    September 14, 2015 at 10:25 PM

  15. These are really amazing shots. I like the blue on the eyes of the dragonfly.


    September 15, 2015 at 3:20 AM

    • And all those micro-lenses in the compound eyes are something, aren’t they? Call this one a success.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 15, 2015 at 8:22 AM

  16. Yesterday, WordPress foiled me as I was scrolling through the latest photos and tried to “like” and “comment,” but I’ve made it in today. I absolutely love this–somehow reminds me of a circus high wire act, and the close-up is terrific. All we’re missing now is one of that dashing Austin photographer . . .

    Susan Scheid

    September 20, 2015 at 9:31 AM

    • Sorry to hear about WordPress foiling you yesterday. It crashed my browser yesterday evening but went back to normal after I restarted the program.

      Speaking of high-wire acts, Cirque du Soleil is coming to Austin, but with tickets starting at $40 and going up into the hundreds, I think I’ll stick with dragonflies, which cavort and pose for me for free.

      As for the dashing photographer, he’d be happy to show you around Austin if you ever visit.

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 20, 2015 at 9:52 AM

  17. That thar’s a seriously handsome dragon. The eyes really do have it, don’t they! I haven’t seen anyone quite this dashing in my own garden this year—barring the frequent-flyer hummingbirds, who are far too speedy for my little camera in my shaky hands!—though this afternoon I did get to have a little tête-à-tête with a good looking mantis, who I very much hope is feasting on any pests out there besides me. Maybe I’ll get lucky and see some fabulous insects and/or flora during Spring Break, when Richard and my older sister and I are coming down to New Braunfels for the week. Much needed playtime *away* from school, work, etc! Hoping your neck of the woods will treat us to early bloom and such, but frankly, the scenery and the holiday will be a more than welcome gift as it is. 😀

    This shot is the perfect confluence, of course, of two extraordinary and beautiful prehistoric beings, so I guess the fact that the insect is such a looker is a bonus as it is!!

    Cheers, and happy Equinox!


    September 21, 2015 at 4:49 PM

    • Aye, happy equal-night to you, too.

      You raise a good point about the insect and the plant both being survivors of primitive forms in their respective domains. I’ve read that there used to be giant versions of each, as well.

      When you spoke of spring break, did you mean autumn break, or are you far-sightedly looking ahead to 2016?

      Steve Schwartzman

      September 21, 2015 at 7:26 PM

      • Spring 2016 (14-18 March, to be precise). Fall is loaded up already—Richard has gigs in Portland (OR) and Stockholm, besides doing a 1.6 FTE load this year—so we deliberately planned ahead for a genuine break more than we usually do!

        Can you imagine a forest of giant horsetails, with giant dragonflies flitting (more likely, whatever the equivalent of flitting would be for something as ominous as a Blackhawk copter!!!) around?! What an amazing scene that must have been. I’d go for a time machine to see that, but only if I could observe from a safe distance!!


        September 22, 2015 at 2:23 PM

        • That really is planning pretty far ahead. Your five days will probably be pretty packed, but perhaps our schedules will allow a meal or meeting as you pass through Austin in one direction or the other. I think that would be a lot safer than meeting giant dragonflies (or worse, whatever preyed on them).

          Steve Schwartzman

          September 22, 2015 at 2:57 PM

          • That’d be fabulous! The getting-together thing, not the being-stalked-by-monsters thing. Hopefully, the former wouldn’t feel like the latter to you. 😀 Let’s confab as the time gets closer. Cheers!


            September 22, 2015 at 7:05 PM

  18. great picture!


    September 23, 2015 at 9:46 AM

  19. […] the Central Market on North Lamar (the same place that yielded the recently shown photograph of a dragonfly on a horsetail). This species of mallow is native in various parts of east Texas and grows as close to Austin as […]

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