Play around with long time exposure

This is something I always wanted to do, to play around with long time exposure and wildlife. In fact I have an image of dragonflies in my mind that I want to shoot this spring. The idea came to my mind when I was taking dragonfly shots last year and when I tried to have shots of them from the front with frozen wings. Unfortunately just when the idea came to my mind, the dragonflies did vanish. So this is definitely a target for 2019.

While walking the rivers and looking at the ducks and mergansers this idea hit me again and I decided to play around a bit as a training. Birds are of course much easier than little dragonflies but it was good to do it as I have learned a lot in terms of what works and what not. There seems to be a very thin line between a „good“ picture and a „bad“ one.
First few attempts
The below pictures show some first tests and as you can see, they look just not right. One could think I was taking pictures with to low shutter speed unintentionally. Thats of course not the outcome that I wanted.

play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/4.5, 1/40, ISO 100
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/4.5, 1/40, ISO 100
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/4.5, 1/40, ISO 100
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/4.5, 1/50, ISO 100

I was thinking of whats the problem with these shots. Two things immediately came to my mind. The first one is obvious – shutter speed. It seems like that 1/50 is still a bit too fast to get a nice long time exposure result. The second thing – and this is something I wasn’t sure whats the best setting – is the f-stop. Wide open might not be too clever for long time exposure as I still may would like to have a bit more dof.

Next attempts with stopping down
As discussed just before, I stopped a bit down and also worked with a slower shutter speed.

play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/8.0, 1/10, ISO 100
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/8.0, 1/10, ISO 100
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/8.0, 1/10, ISO 100

That’s much better than before and kind of nice. The first picture shows two common merganser (male and female) and I very much like on how they blend or fade into each other. Maybe a bit to artsy partsy but I like it. The two male and female ducks also turned out quite nice I would think.

Some more test shots

play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/18, 1/15, ISO 640
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/18, 1/15, ISO 640
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/18, 1/15, ISO 640
play around with long time exposure
Nikon D750 500mm f/4.0 | 500mm, f/18, 1/15, ISO 640

Now we are talking, that’s the kind of images I had in mind when I started. You may notice that I have stopped down quite a bit again as this helps I would think. ISO is not much of a problem here anyways. Unfortunately I have a lot of dust on my sensor as it seems. I will play around a lot more with this as I kind of like it.

Let me know your thoughts

I hope this article was helpful for you. If there is anything you are looking for, please let me know and I try to find examples to discuss. I hope this inspired you to also play around with long time exposure. If so share your results and drop me a line.

Love an protect wildlife

Animals are awesome and need our protection. Don’t hurt, kill or eat animals. Its wrong.

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