Book updates and targeted image search

Dave McShaffrey, Jim McCormac, and myself (MaLisa) are still chugging along with new new all Ohio Field Guide to Dragonflies and Damselflies (official title TBD). We are getting close with the text and have sorted through most species for photos.

Thank you to those who have submitted photo permission forms! We have been picking out at least two candidate images per sex for each species known to occur in Ohio. Then our publisher will decide between those images of which one we actually end up using. I will then need to follow up with photographers to get the original image file for each selected image, so that will take some time. As of right now, I have not informed anyone if their image is a candidate for a particular species, so if you already submitted images for species not on the list, don’t worry.

One challenge we have run into is that our field guide is supposed to cover all species that have historically been found in Ohio. However, there are a lot of species that we have not seen in recent years, or we see mostly males, or we only have one or two blurry images. Thus, we are putting out an additional targeted species request for publication quality images of the following taxa: Google Sheets List of Requested Odonata

We have also added in a short wish list at the end of the list of species we think might be found in Ohio, but have not yet been documented. So this can be your challenge to either A) find and document them in Ohio (and then we would need to write a full species profile for them, but I won’t complain), or B) submit your photo records from travels outside of Ohio. In general, preference will be for images taken from Ohio, but we know that just is not feasible for many of these species.

How to submit your images for potential selection:

Please fill out the photo use permission letter below and email it to MaLisa at spring (dot) 99 (at) osu (dot) edu*. If you do not have your images on iNaturalist, please send a link the the appropriate location where they are stored (Odonata Central, Bugguide, Flickr). iNaturalist or Odonata central images are preferred as they have already been vetted for an ID.

Please be sure to check the Google Sheets List of Requested Odonata to see which species we still need publication quality images. See the end of this post for key characters we are trying to get in each species profile.

*while swapping the (dot) with . and (at) with @ – this is done to avoid email crawling and spam on my end

Photo Use Permission Letter: PhotoPermission


Key characters of a publication quality image with some varying quality examples by MaLisa:

  • Fill the frame (but not by heavily cropping)

    In this bad example, the Twelve Spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) is hard to see. It could be cropped to see easier, but then you are working with fewer pixels overall, which runs into a different issue.


    Even with cropping, this particular image isn’t really redeemable. Cropping your image to focus on the bug will not necessarily make it a publishable image. That is why it is ideal to fill your frame with your target when you are initially photographing them, but like this skimmer, they are not always cooperative in letting you get closer.

  • The whole dragonfly should be in focus, especially the eyes, but we would also like the terminal appendages in focus as well. Hence why it is so hard to get some of the images.

This is a neat image of a Sri Lankan Shining Gossamerwing (Euchaea splendens, Family Euphaeidae), but unfortunately the tip of the abdomen is not in focus. So this would not be a candidate for our book (in addition to it not being a species found in Ohio, but I digress)

Meanwhile, this female Citrine Forktail (Ischnura hastata) is mostly in focus (though the tip of the abdomen could be sharper)

  • Avoid high ISO, noisy images. If you are in a situation where you need a higher ISO, try adding in a flash instead.

From a distance, this Band-winged Meadowhawk (Sympetrum semicinctum) looks decent, however, if you zoom in, you can see the pixelation that occurs. This extra noise will not reproduce as well in a printed document.

This crop shows the noise a bit better. Some cameras are better than others when it comes to higher ISOs and noise. My small Canon SLR can only go up to a 400 ISO before the noise starts to get really evident. My Panasonic ultrazoom camera can’t seem to shoot a non-noisy image, regardless of the ISO, but it is still great for field work and documenting species I otherwise would not have been able to see.

  • Try to get non-distracting backgrounds

This Slender Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum luzonicum) from Sri Lanka is perched nicely. However, the background is distracting in addition to the image being somewhat noisy. The F number was 11/2, ISO 320, and a shutter speed of 1/160 , and focal length of 87 mm – note these numbers are a bit weird because this was taken on a Panasonic Point and Shoot.

Meanwhile, this is the same bug on the same perch, but in this case the settings have been changed to make the background blurry. The F number was 57/10, ISO 320, and a shutter speed of 1/159 , and focal length of 1899/10 mm – note these numbers are a bit weird because this was taken on a Panasonic Point and Shoot. Normally you change the background blur by changing the aperture value (f-stop), but in this case it seems that I instead got closer and farther away from the specimen, with the more distant image being the one with the more blurred background. This image still has issues with noise and sharpness, but does a decent job of illustrating blurring backgrounds.

  • Large file sizes – the image should be a minimum 2,000 pixels wide, and ideally shot in RAW

Another Sri Lankan damselfly, this is the Sri Lanka Green’s Gem (Libellago greeni, Family Chlorocyphidae). This image is 400 x 276 pixels. You can always reduce your image later, but starting with a small image and making it bigger does not work well with image editing.

In this case, the original edit is a bit pixelated, but it is hard to pass up such a neat dragonfly in the field. This is the original non-reduced edit at 2338 x 1611 pixels.

And here is the small version of the image that is expanded out, back to the original size of 2338 x 1611 pixels. As you can see, going from large to small image typically does not harm the image that much. But going from small to large really breaks down the image quality, which is why it is so important to shot images as large files initially as you cannot get back the detail that you lost.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *