Fall is a great time to film wildlife and nature on the tallgrass prairies in the Midwest. Warm days and cool nights oftentimes produce ground fog and plants and insects covered with dew.
Ground fog and dew quickly vanish once the sun rises, so a wildlife filmmaker needs to act quickly if they are looking to film several subjects.

This one particular morning I decided to stick around until a dragonfly I found on the tallgrass prairie at Indian Creek Nature Center took off on its first flight of the day.
The morning was cool, the winds calm and a high overcast meant that the dew covered dragonfly would take longer to warm up for its maiden flight.

Periodically I could see a little movement. Once the dragonfly flicked its wings, shaking off some dew as if it were not all that happy that the warming process was taking so long. It would be almost another thirty minutes or so before the dragonfly was warmed up enough to prepare for flight.

No creature that takes to the air would ever leave the ground with impaired vision. The dragonfly would wipe the dew off of its large eyes as it slowly started to warm up.

Finally the moment I had been waiting for all morning was about to take place. Almost as if the dragonfly had turned a key, its wings started to move. In a fraction of a second, they were nothing but a blur. For several minutes the dragonfly stayed firmly attached to the stem of grass it had called its home during the previous night. I wasn’t sure how long this would go on but eventually I began to see the dragonflies body start to lift as if the wings had pivoted slightly and were now starting to generate lift. But the dragonfly still clung to the stem of prairie grass.

Suddenly the dragonfly took one quick look to its left and released itself from the stem of prairie grass and exploded into the sky.

When looking at the footage frame by frame the dragonfly exits the camera’s view in just two frames. Although for a few additional frames you can still see the dew off of its wings streaking through the frame.

It was something I had never experienced before and was ecstatic that I decided to stay to watch the first flight of the day!

Finally, the dew had evaporated, the sun had risen higher and the rest of the world was starting to wake up as well.
I marveled at the wonderful show that nature had put on but sadly she had played only to an audience of one.

If I could give you one wildlife filming tip, it would be to stick with a subject and see it through. If I had taken a few minutes of video and then moved on, I would have missed this incredible experience!

I hope you enjoyed this video. Please share with your friends!

And as always, shoot the ordinary and make it extraordinary!

Kevin J Railsback is a wildlife and nature filmmaker