Behind the Image: Long exposure sandpiper - Alexander Becker

Behind the Image: Long exposure sandpiper

Published: 01/12/2020

I recently went down to Barnegat Jetty -- one of my favorite winter bird photography spots in New Jersey -- on a cold and windy day. This is an aggregation point for a number of wintering migratory ducks as well as gulls and shorebirds. While the Harlequin ducks are generally the stars of the show and reason most folks visit (including me), I really love photographing the shorebirds like Ruddy turnstone and Purple sandpiper.

I was heading back to my car as the sun was setting when I was a Purple sandpiper on some rocks. The tide was coming in and washing over the rock. Although the bird was trying to avoid the water it was actually sitting pretty still. Instead of my usual exposure for sitting birds of about 1/800 s and f/5.6 or so, I dialed in 1/20 s and f/10 to really drag out the exposure. After a number of misses, the sandpiper stayed still just long enough for a (reasonably) sharp shot with nice blurred water all around it. Click the image below to see it larger.

All in all I'm really happy with this frame. I have a number of perched and static sandpiper frames already, and while I'll continue to take them, it's great to try something new. Moreover, this is definitely something I'll continue trying in the future as opportunities present themselves.

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