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Local Knowledge

October 15, 2012
Desert Firetail

© jmillerphoto.com – Desert Firetail

I’m taking a few vacation days this week, so the posts may be a little more regular and timely.  Since I last wrote I’ve done two photography shoots.  The first was back to Medina River Natural Area for which there is not a lot to talk about.  A couple of missed opportunities, but at the same time some really nice shots of both American and Smoky Rubyspots.  The images will eventually end up on Flickr or in my #OdeADay posts over at Google+.

But for today’s shoot, it requires first a short talk about how valuable local knowledge is.  And for almost all disciplines of photography where you are working outside of a studio, there is nothing more valuable than local knowledge.  Whether it be as important as where the rarest of rare insects are or the best place to park in the city center, getting information on the local environment is incredibly important.

When a fellow photographer is providing that information, it makes things all the much better because not only do they have the information, but they can communicate what you need to know in a form that is more in-focus because they think like you do.

Today’s visit out to Cook’s Slough Nature Park in Uvalde, Texas, is an example of how that local knowledge can do wonders.  I was blessed to have Terry Hibbitts meet me out at the park.  Terry is one of the co-authors of Texas Amphibians: A Field Guide–available both in book format and soon as a smart phone app. He is a regular to Cook’s Slough, a person with a life list of Odonata that makes me look like I just started yesterday, and a very fine photographer in his own right.

A couple of weeks ago he posted a list of odonata that he had seen out at Cook’s Slough and I had thanked him via e-mail.  We exchanged an e-mail or two and after one failed attempt we finally found a time where both of us could be out there.

After about three hours of walking the park, I had seen areas that I didn’t know existed and learned quite a bit not only about dragonflies and damselflies, but also some more about the local butterflies and birds.  In what seemed like a minimum of effort I added three odonates to my life list:  Orange Bluet, Band-winged Dragonlet, and the Blue-eyed Darner.  Of the three, I only got workable images of the Orange Bluet and the Band-winged Dragonlet.  The Blue-eyed Darner didn’t want to perch so I was stuck with minimally acceptable flight images.  But hey, they’re identifiable. 🙂 (Note: Previous edition of this said Blue-faced Darner.  That was very much in error.)

My number of shots was actually a little less than I would normally shoot out at Cook’s- -just 300 or so images trickled onto the memory card.  But the ones I got were very good and they’ll trickle out in the days and weeks to come.

Thanks for the insight and local knowledge, Terry.  I can’t wait for spring to get you out here to a couple of Odonata locations in my backyard.  I may even be able to pick up my camera by then 🙂

About the Image:
No, I didn’t go with the easy route and show you one of my life list adds.  A) That would be too easy, and B) I haven’t gotten that deep into the images yet.  I do want to get this post out tonight 🙂  Instead, I went the First In, First Out route with a Desert Firetail (Telebasis salva), also shot today out at Cook’s Slough.  I only had one other image of this particular species, and it was from a trip to Austin, Texas in late 2006.  And as I recall, they were in a somewhat compromising position 🙂  This one was just hanging out with tons of other damsels at Cook’s Slough.  The technical details: Standard Gear (with flash) mounted on the tripod.  1/100th at f/18 and the addition of a little E-TTL flash.

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