Here is a series of photographs documenting this awesome process:
The nymph (which has been living a fully aquatic life and breathing through gills) climbs out of the water and up the stem or blade of a plant. It then clings to the plant as the Dragonfly compresses its abdomen which causes the thoracic region to swell and split open the skin on the insect's back. It then twitches and pushes until it manages to free itself from the nymphal skin.
In a matter of seconds the Dragonfly was completely out!
While in the larval (nymph) stage, and just before climbing up the plant, it consumes a large quantity of water which it uses to pump into its appendages causing them to elongate.
The expanding wings are evident in this photograph.
Further expansion takes place as minutes pass.
The wings become fully extended and the Dragonfly re-positions itself on the plant. The re-positioning was done several times.
This side-view shows off its lovely, lacey wings!
The Dragonfly also moved its legs on occasion and made head movements as though stretching.
This photo shows how it has now moved completely away from its former skin.
After the wings are fully expanded, excess water is expelled from its digestive tract (you can see a drop at its tip) and air is pumped into the wings to harden them.
This process continues for a short time and once again the Dragonfly re-positions itself.
In a very sudden movement the wings spring open into the familiar position of those of a fully formed Dragonfly. This picture was taken a second or two after the previous one.
As I took this final photo a breeze came up and riffled the Dragonfly's wings and I wondered how it felt for this insect who, up until an hour earlier, had been confined in another body.