Defying the Physics of Photography (Two Photographs)

Dragonfly in FlightTo view more of my photography please click on

I am often asked about my settings (EXIF data). These were taken at ISO 640, F5.6 at 1/320th of a second on Nikon 300mm F2.8 with vibration reduction. These photographs have been heavily cropped by about 50%. All things remaining equal, to get sharp photographs your shutter speed should be the reciprocal of the length of the lens multiplied by the crop factor (in short 1/300th of a second times 1.5 due to the cropped sensor on the D7200 = 1/450th of a second). Clearly I was not following the rules. In my defense it was a dull day with nothing much to shoot except for the first time the dragonflies were flying about. I could not resist trying to get one hovering in flight. Had I been thinking rather than just taking a shot I might have increased my shutter speed, shot with a wider aperture and seen if I could get a lower ISO. My conclusion is that I can be a little less exact on the shutter speed rule and that sometimes just taking a “shot in the dark” works fairly well.

Dragonfly in Flight-2

12 responses

  1. Wonderful shots, Victor. I have tried these kinds of shots and the degree of difficulty is high, no matter what the camera settings are and how cooperative the flying dragonflies may be.


    August 2, 2015 at 5:40 am

  2. With the lower speed, you can see the wings beating, and that’s a nice effect.


    August 2, 2015 at 6:45 am

  3. I know from experience that it is not easy to capture these in flight… GREAT job!

    Liked by 1 person

    August 2, 2015 at 10:46 am

  4. I took a similar dragonfly shot recently with the D800 (full field sensor) and an 80-400 lens zoomed at 400, iso 640, f 8 and 1/2500 with the sky as a backdrop. The wing action was virtually stopped with a slight blur on the far wings because of the depth of field. The crop factor was about 1/3. It was a very crisp shot–but I was able to get it because I set my camera (as a baseline, manual shooting) for birds in flight, except it’s usually at iso 800 unless it’s an especially bright day. You lose something with the iso setting but if the subject is close enough, you don’t see the losses. The real trick is getting my setup to auto-focus in time! The zoom is slow, so it takes quite a bit of luck and a cooperative dragonfly.

    I like the wing movement in your shot, though, and it proves that it pays to be ready with the camera for whatever opportunity comes your way!


    August 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    • Thanks. Fast focusing lenses are good for birds. Generally for insects I prefer a slower focusing. This was the exception.


      August 2, 2015 at 1:55 pm

  5. Amazing pictures. Rules in photography are always made to be broken.


    August 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

  6. Pat

    Great shots of the dragonflies in flight. Looks like a tiny helicopter.


    August 2, 2015 at 10:40 pm

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