Photo Binge 2014 – Day 1: Mitchell Lake Audubon Center
I decided that for this year’s Photo Binge that I wanted to stay kind of close to home. And meeting that definition was a trip to Mitchell Lake Audubon Center in San Antonio, Texas. I hadn’t been out to MLAC since Father’s Day and I really needed to make another trip out there.
The wind was up a little bit, which worried me. Once summer gets rolling, the usual suspects for photo subjects at MLAC are dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies, and lizards (in that order of availability). With the wind up, the top three on that list can be tough to make images of.
But I took a chance, figuring the worst that it was going to set me back was the entrance fee and some time, and wandered in at around 8:30AM.
As has been my norm of late, I started with the Bird Pond. With the trees and other brush bordering most of the trail, even in windy conditions there are places were the winds are calm and the dragons behave. As it turned out, the wind was not a huge factor on most of the trail and I had very good luck with Great Pondhawks, Blue Dashers, and Four-spotted Pennants. I even had a Halloween Pennant that did its best to perch for me, but was in a spot where the wind was not as favorable.
After working the Bird Pond for about an hour, I decided that I would at least make a run over to the Basins and Polders to see how conditions were. I was worried about the wind. But I was also worried about the odor. More than once the stench has been so bad that I had to turn around for fear that the dog might not let me in the house when I returned home.
But both the wind and the odor were reasonable through most of the walk. Wind was an issue on the south end of the property where there was no protection from the breeze coming out of the south and off the lake. But it was what it was and it did not take away too greatly from the shooting experience.
In general the walk produced some nice images. Four-spotted Pennants were really thick and many perched very well for me. Red Saddlebags were also present in great numbers, though I only got a few shots that were not hampered by the wind and of those I’m not completely happy with the way I captured them.
Overall, it was a great way to start the Photo Binge. Decent weather, good photo subjects, and an enjoyable time. I’m glad I started with MLAC.
About the Images:
All four images were shot with the Standard Gear, on the tripod but with no flash. All were shot at ISO 400. As you will notice, most of the good shots on the day were made when the dragonflies hit perches that were more wood-like. This was a product of the breeze and the fact that woody perches did not sway as much. The Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa) was a nice early find. The frame used here was the fourth image shot on the day. Tech specs were 1/60 sec at f/11. The Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) were out in force as well. Tech specs were 1/100 sec at f/16. I made images of the Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) at both shooting locations on the property. I chose this one from between the East and West Polders because of the background. Tech specs were 1/640 sec at f/11. The Four-spotted Pennants (Brachymesia gravida) were very abundant at both the Bird Pond and the Basins. This one was also shot between the Polders at 1/200 sec at f/16. And last, but certainly not least, was the Red Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata). I’m not overly happy with this image, but it does demonstrate that they were out and about. Tech specs were 1/400 sec at f/10.