I couldn’t tell with the naked eye, so I grabbed my longest telephoto lens. In this case, the insect was several yards away from me in a high tree. If it had been more accessible, I would have run for my macro lens. What is the difference?
When we see very small objects enlarged, often those images are taken with a macro lens. A macro lens allows one to get so close to the subject that its image on the sensor is at least the same size as the original object. However, that is not the only way to show detail in a small object.
For objects that we can’t approach closely, a telephoto lens can provide the magnification we need. I had to focus manually, because the autofocus kept missing the insect and focusing on the background greenery. I was a little shaky with the four-pound lens, so I had to go back into the house and fetch the tripod. The dragonfly or damselfly obediently waited.
I used the lens at the long 600mm end. ISO 800, shutter speed 1/640 second, aperture f/6.3. This image is cropped, and I can tell the detail could have been a little sharper. I should have closed the aperture a bit, but I was worried about having enough light. I couldn’t lower the shutter speed because my tripod head was slipping under the weight of the heavy lens. However, I would have preferred to get sharper detail, even at the expense of a bit of noise by raising the ISO. Live and learn.
However, with the magnification, I could see that the hind wings were broader than the forewings, and the wings were held open and down. I couldn’t see both eyes, but they looked as if they might meet in the middle. Therefore, it was a dragonfly.
The dragonfly, as I mentioned, was a patient model. He shifted a few times, and in one position, I was able to get the eye and at least one wing sharp enough to show the beautiful detail. I stopped shooting not because he left, but because the late afternoon sun went behind the clouds and the light went flat. Also, because the family was waiting for me to make dinner, and we were only going to have frozen ravioli as it was.