This short article features a series of 23 images showing a cormorant swallowing a fish at 20 frames per second. When I’ve observed cormorants fishing in the past, they usually surface after capturing a very small fish. These quickly disappear down the gullet of the cormorant with a quick head flick. I was quite surprised to see the cormorant in this series of images surface with a fairly large fish in its beak.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
This was one of those captures that can never be predicted. Its great when Lady Luck is along side, allowing you to be at the right place, at the right time.
I took a very short AF-C burst when the cormorant first surfaced with its catch, as you can see in the image above. The bird quickly adjusted the fish in its beak to allow for a head-first swallow.
I had my Nikon 1 V3 set in Manual with Auto ISO 160-3200. I used AF-C with subject tracking at 20 frames per second, with VR turned off. I used a shutter speed of 1/2000, an aperture of f/5.6, and center-weighted metering. ISO varied between ISO-1250 and ISO-1600 for the images in this series. The images were captured hand-held. I used the 1 Nikon 1 CX 70-300mm zoom lens fully extended. This provides an equivalent field-of-view of 810mm.
As the cormorant aligned the fish I took an AF-C burst of 23 images. All of the action that follows took just over a second for the bird to complete!
Being able to capture a natural event like this at 20 fps using AF-C provides some unique insights that would not have been possible using a slower frame rate. It’s one of the reasons that I love shooting stills with Nikon 1 gear.
All images were captured hand-held using a Nikon 1 V3 and 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens, and shown as 100% captures without any cropping. All photographs used in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro 11, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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