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Careers: Wildlife Photographer!

greg250.jpgBeing a wildlife photographer takes good observation skills and patience! Like a detective, a good photographer does his homework first. Meet Greg Lasley, who took those great pictures of a water nymph emerging as dragonfly. Let's read how he got these pictures from his own words:

"You may have seen dragonflies flit over ponds and streams on a warm summer day, but did you know that some dragonfly species may spend up to two years or even more in the larval form before they emerge into the dragonfly we all know?

"In the larval form, the young dragonfly lives underwater in the mud or gravel in the bed of a stream, river, or pond. These larval dragonflies have different forms of gills, depending on the type of dragonfly, and are true aquatic insects during this stage of their life. They feed on other aquatic insects, tiny fish, or virtually anything they can catch. When the dragonfly larva reaches the end of its larval cycle, it crawls up on a twig, weed stalk, or some other object at the water's edge, and over a several hour period the adult form of the dragonfly emerges. This emergence usually takes place at night since the young dragonflies are very weak fliers initially and would be easy prey for a bird or other predator."

Catching the Action!

(See the full set of pictures in the magazine!)

"As a nature photographer, I am always on the lookout for interesting subjects to photograph. While walking along the edge of a cattle pond, I saw empty dragonfly exuvia clinging to weed stalks. I knew that these exuvia were the empty shell of dragonfly larvae which had emerged the night before.

"Since I wanted to be able to get photographs of the dragonfly emerging, I knew I would have to work at night. Setting my alarm clock for midnight, I grabbed a flashlight and made my way back to the cattle pond. I started watching for the dragonfly larvae. It was not long before I spotted several of them slowing crawling up a cattail stalk. I set up my tripod and camera and flash and waited and watched. The larva would crawl to a location that seemed to suit its needs and become very still. Sometimes an hour or more would pass with little or nothing happening. Then, slowly, the back of the larval shell began to split open and the insect started to crawl out. Over about an hour and a half the young dragonfly crawled out from its shell and slowly the wings expanded to their full form. The dragonfly let its wings dry for another hour or so, then slowly flew off into the trees to spend its first few days hiding from birds or other predators until its body hardened and it had time to practice flying. The hours I spent staring through a lens in the middle of the night watching as this miracle of life unfolded in front of my eyes was truly a thrilling experience!"

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