Last Sunday during the Waterfall Photography Workshop I was conducting in Charmadi region of Western Ghats I spotted a damselfly. It was the Male Malabar Torrent Dart (Euphaea fraseri) resting on a stone under the waterfall. Malabar Torrent Dart is found only in the Western and Eastern Ghats in India. Female Malabar Torrent Dart was sitting around at a higher perch.
The only macro lenses I had that day, were the Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM (which has a macro mode) and the new Venus Optics Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro Lens. I used both of them on my Canon EOS 5DS R using natural light. Out of these two lenses the LAOWA 15mm lens is one of the widest full-frame lenses to offer a full 1:1 magnification ratio at 4.7mm from the rather large front element of this lens, but that’s the trade off between a wide angle of view and the desire for ‘true’ macro abilities. This is entirely manual lens (manual focus; manual aperture; no communication to the camera body) also includes a shift mechanism to physically move the optics up or down along the lens mount (though the shift direction is fixed to the frame’s vertical axis).
Advantage of Laowa 15mm f/4 Macro Lens is its ability to show environment around the macro subject. I could get Malabar Torrent Dart to fill the frame, while still capturing the background showing the stream flowing behind the damselfly. These are 6 consecutive captures stacked as 6 frames of 0.2 secs each in Photoshop to get this animated GIF file which you can see above. The 6 frames are looped infinitely to produce a continuous animation. Since the moving water was captured in each of the frames, you can also appreciate the flow of the stream in this GIF file.
The Malabar Torrent Dart is usually found near forest streams throughout the year. This lovely damselfly flits about near the water, eating small insects such as mosquitos and aphids, which it catches in flight. Its feet have tiny spines which allow it to grab insects while it is flying. Having caught its prey, the damselfly will settle on the ground to chew its food and gobble it down.
Damselflies and dragonflies, are both insects that belong to a group called odonata. The life cycle of these odonates involves both land and water. Most odonates lay their eggs in water. When these eggs hatch, the larva also live in water. Only when the adult insect emerges does it live in the air and on the ground.
Because odonates have life cycles that are both aquatic and terrestrial, they are a very good indicator of the quality of habitat. Damselflies like the Malabar Torrent Dart need clean, unpolluted water sources, such as the hill streams in the Western Ghats. Hence the presence of these creatures means that a reasonably good quality natural habitat exists in the area. If this habitat is destroyed, it is likely that these beautiful small creatures will disappear too.