The lonely swan

A solitary swan swims on the calm waters of The Lough as the sun disappears at the end of the day.

Believe it or not, this is a 10 second exposure that turned out much better than I could have hoped! I balanced my camera on the edge of the Lough, set it to Aperture priority mode at f/11, dialed the exposure down two stops, flipped up the camera flash and took the shot.

How does this work?

  • By setting the aperture to a fairly high value little light is let into the camera sensor.
  • By setting the exposure down two stops the whole scene will be underexposed but bright areas will be exposed mostly correctly.
  • Given the above settings, any dark moving objects will be completely invisible so when the flash fired it picked out the swan swimming past and even created a nice reflection in the water.

Hope that helps!




  1. Reply
    Flickr: corksurf January 30, 2007

    corksurf has posted a comment:

    Fantastic shot! Don’t you just love it when things like that turn out so well.

    The lonely swan

  2. Reply
    Flickr: luciano7 January 30, 2007

    luciano7 has posted a comment:

    I agree with corksurf, a fantastic shot and what a feeling when the pic turns out better than expected. I like the night time yet with day breaking just over the hills. that swan was still for ten seconds??

    The lonely swan

  3. Reply
    Flickr: xeer January 30, 2007

    xeer has posted a comment:

    Thanks for commenting! Luciano7 – I didn’t need to worry about the movement of the swan because it was so dark.

    Remember, this was a 10 second exposure, very underexposed, so anything that wasn’t emitting light itself would have been completely dark.

    From experience, I know that if I tried to expose properly the light in the background would have been blown out, and the swan would have been a ghost except where it is lit up by the flash.

    By deliberatly underexposing I got a really sharp swan instead!

    The lonely swan

  4. Reply
    Ger January 30, 2007

    that is a stunning photo…truly lovely

  5. Reply
    Daze January 30, 2007

    Stunning! Outstanding photo, and thanks for sharing how you managed to capture this, really interesting!

  6. Reply
    Flickr: January 30, 2007 has posted a comment:

    this is sweet. thanks for sharing, and most importantly thanks for sharing the technique. the reflection really tops if off. congrats !

    The lonely swan

  7. Reply
    James Farmer January 31, 2007


  8. Reply
    .. January 31, 2007

    […] The lonely swan […]

  9. Reply
    Flickr: patio_ February 2, 2007

    patio_ has posted a comment:

    Hey cousin, I just wanted to let you know that I am enjoying all those wonderful pics that you take.

    The lonely swan

  10. Reply
    Flickr: scribeoflight February 6, 2007

    scribeoflight has posted a comment:

    An unusual shot. I might crop it a bit differently, but I’m not sure. I really like the fact that I’ve never seen a shot of a swan at night before.

    The lonely swan

  11. Reply
    Flickr: baedo March 18, 2007

    baedo has posted a comment:

    That’s and incredible shot! Just wonderful.

    The lonely swan

  12. Reply
    Edgar February 11, 2008

    Awesome image of the lonely swan! I really do love swans! I’m a swan!

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