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Photo Shoot Report: Germantown-area Metroparks

September 22, 2011

© - Unidentified White Flower

The last of my photo shoot reports from my trip to Ohio center around the two western most metroparks in the Five Rivers Metropark system.  They are Germantown and Twin Creek Metroparks.  Both are situated around the town of Germantown, with its namesake being north of town and Twin Creek being south of town.

For my regular readers, you know that I had a tough shooting environment to work with when my lead picture is a flower.  I’m not a big flower fan.  I just don’t think I do them justice.  So when this is my lead image, it is a sign that things did not go as hoped at this/these site(s).

And I should really take a step back.  I have had outstanding shooting luck at these two parks.  My favorite frog image was done at a pond on the western side of Germantown Metropark.  My favorite Halloween Pennant shot was made at Lake George at Twin Creek Metropark.  This trip was just challenging.

I visited the parks on two different occasions during the visit up to Ohio.  Once in the morning and once in the afternoon.

© - Eastern (Common) Pondhawk

The morning visit was probably too early in the morning.  I had hoped to recapture some of the magic from my bullfrog shooting the previous year by visiting the two ponds on the west side of the park.  No such luck.  Too cool, too cloudy, too early, and too wet from the night before.  All I managed were a few shots from distance that were just so-so and a complete strike out at the other pond that I visited.

Hoping to salvage something from the drive I went over to the eastern side of the park and visited Sunfish Pond.  This had always been a reliable pond for dragonflies.  In my long-form visit to Dayton I made over a thousand images at this pond.  Weather, timing, temperature, and just dumb luck were not in my favor.  A pond that is normally pretty populated with odes was instead nearly a complete bust.  A single Blue Dasher and a couple of Common (Eastern) Pondhawks were the highlights–not usually a sign of a good shoot.

Often the best thing to do when luck is not going your way is to punt.  Which I did.  I stopped and had a bite to eat and thought maybe my luck would be better at Twin Creek.  It wasn’t.

Lake George at the south end of the park was nearly devoid of any ode life.  And five minutes into my walk into Dogwood Pond it started to rain.  And I’m thinking to myself “First full day of shooting in Ohio…I sure hope it gets better than this.”

© - Widow Skimmer

© - Widow Skimmer

I returned the following week in the afternoon and I had better luck finding dragons and damsels.  I just didn’t have all that good luck making images, but that was due to my not being as familiar with my new rig as I should have been.  Note to Jim:  When you are playing with HDR, make sure that what you are doing is setting up a full stop exposure bracketing series, not turning up the exposure compensation by a full stop resulting in slower shutter exposures and over exposed pictures.

Lake George was still pretty dead, though honestly I didn’t spend a lot of time with it.  There was a young couple at that location who wanted some privacy, I think, and a guy walking around with a camera and a big lens made them uncomfortable which in turn made me feel uncomfortable.  Since the dragons just weren’t that good in the first place, I moved on.

Dogwood Pond was a very good stop.  Wider variety of dragonflies than I had seen in the past, to include the Halloween Pennants that I normally saw at Lake George.  Numbers were good, though not great and another visit at another time of day may have worked better.

Sunfish Pond at Germantown was better than it had been before, but it was somewhere during that visit that I realized my exposure compensation blunder.  At that point I had been shooting pretty much all day, save for a meal break.  I was tired, sore, and frustrated with myself, not to mention questioning where I had gone wrong with the exposure compensation and how much of the day was a waste (not to mention it would be a week before I could really see the shots).  I shot maybe another 4 images, muttered a few words at myself that I cannot repeat here I got back into the car and called it a day.

Impressions of these two parks were good.  They continue to be very well maintained.  There was not nearly as many flowers this year as there were last at these locations so the butterfly numbers were very small, but I’m not sure if that was a matter of the time of year or the weather they had experienced.  Dragons were noticeably down, but still good shooting was had on that second day.

In spite of any number of foul-ups, I enjoyed my visits out to these two Metroparks.  Hopefully some day I can make it back.

About the images:

I have been unsuccessful to this point on finding out the exact species of the white flower that is my lead image.  Flowers aren’t more forte and I don’t have any Ohio wildflower books.  The Common (or Eastern) Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) was representative of what I saw on my first visit to the Metroparks- -only the heartiest and most common of the dragonflies were around.  The Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) was more indicative of my second trip.  Good numbers, but poor execution.  Yet I do like this particular pose, even though I had to do far more to it in Photoshop and Lightroom than I normally would have.

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