Englishman in Bandung

By Vodkaman


The blip monster woke me up early today and sent me outside with my camera. I had no idea what I was supposed to be looking at. It was a bright, clear morning, the traffic was picking up, but nothing special was going on. I was about to go back inside, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted movement. This stunning creature was sunning itself on a bare twig.

I knew I might only get one shot at this. The question was how far to push my luck, how close to creep. Inching forward, I got to within three feet, so that the wings occupied half the frame. This would be my backup shot, close enough to crop and maintain good detail. As soon as I started to inch closer for a full frame shot, she got nervous and departed. I know these creatures will often return to the same post, so I kept very still for a couple of minutes, but nothing. If you are shooting dragons, this is worth remembering, I have seen it in the past.

The processing was good, other than cropping, required very little work. More depth of field would have been nice and at 1/160 sec, I had more aperture to play with than I thought. When I was setting up the camera, it was quoting me 1/80 sec, but the light must have changed. Had she given me the opportunity, blah blah.

I found it interesting how the dragon holds onto the branch. All six legs have hooks, but in this case, the front two pairs are hooked behind the twig and the rear pair sit on top of the twig and act as a pivot or fulcrum. All the legs are forward of the centre of gravity, so the weight of the body tries to tip backwards. I'm sure some university scholar has written a thesis on this.

I pulled up the dragon that I shot on the 19th September for a comparison. Totally contrasting liveries, but the detail in the forward wing was very similar, in the rear wing there were also similarities. I was thinking that this might be a male/female thing. Also, the striking colors made me think more damsel fly than dragonfly. I needed to do some Googling.

After a good Google, there are several differences between damsels and dragons. The two differences easiest to spot are: 1 - damsels rest with their wings together, dragons with their wings spread. 2 - dragon eyes are bigger and touch at the top of the head, whereas damsels are separated. This is definitely a dragon fly, but I will have to leave identification to the entomologists amongst you.

I also found out that dragons, like roaches, in evolutionary terms are very old, in the order of 300 million years, whereas man is less that 2 million years old. Like the roach, the dragon reached its Darwinian perfection and has remained pretty much unchanged, other than size. At one time, the dragonfly had a 12 inch wing span, now that is scary. Dragons can bite, but are totally harmless.

I flicked through the Google pics, but could not find this particular ornithopter. The closest was an Asian blue. The wing lattice pattern similarity may not mean much, as I did find other pics that were similar.

Dragonflies are one of the most beautiful and wondrous of natures creations. I just hope mans abuse of the environment does not cause the demise of these reverent creatures and that they live on another 300 million years. Survival for another 300 years would be an achievement for man.


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