Autumn Meadowhawk

Red Face at f/32

Taken with a Micro-Nikkor 60mm on a Nikon D90.

Autumn meadowhawk dragonflies are the last dragonflies to leave the local ponds in the fall. They stick around, as long as the weather holds, into November. November this year was particularly favorable. There were still half a dozen of these actively breeding on November 17; that is the latest I have noticed them. As the plants and animals of summer slowly disappear, these are a delightful last-hurrah for nature photography. They have the stage all to themselves now.

Dragonfly facts aside, this photograph also demonstrates the limitations of depth of field in macro photography. I have the Micro-Nikkor 60mm lens at the closest focus. We are at a full 1:1 subject-size to sensor-size here. I also have the aperture down to f/32, which is into the area of diminishing returns where diffraction starts to overcome the advantages of a smaller aperture. Most of the head is in focus as well as just the leading edge of the  wings. I’m estimating a depth of field of maybe 3/8ths of an inch (1 cm) in relation to the subject. A cooperative subject, ideal light, pleasant weather, even a comfy spot to lay on my stomach without getting wet or dirty–but the depth of field is still wafer thin! Ok, maybe more like Kit-Kat bar thin, but still pretty thin.