I’ve been making regular trips to the Hendrie Valley Sanctuary the past little while, as I’ve been doing some fieldwork for an upcoming eBook on bird photography. This article shares some images of a Great Blue Heron taking off shot at 20 fps in continuous auto-focus with subject tracking.
I’ve been planning to capture this exact scene for a while but it took some time for ‘the stars to align’ to present the right opportunity.
What follows is a series of 14 consecutive frames captured with a Nikon 1 V3 and the 1 Nikon 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6. All photographs in this article are 100% captures without any cropping at all.
I’ve also included the fifth frame of the sequence even though my Nikon 1 V3 missed focus badly on that particular frame. I’ve included it simply to show the body position of the heron. This missed auto-focus may be due to ‘operator error’ on my part. It may also have been caused by an AF issue with my CX 70-300 mm lens as it has recently developed a periodic shudder/chatter which affects AF performance. I have shot tens of thousands of AF-C images using fast frame rates using this lens and I’ve never had one of my Nikon 1 cameras miss an image mid-stream this badly. As a result my lens is going in to Nikon for warranty repair.
I shot in Manual mode at f/5.6 with a shutter speed of 1/1600. I used Auto ISO 160-6400 with the ISO of the individual frames varying from ISO-360 to ISO-450.
I backed off my focal length to 245.7 mm providing me with an equivalent field-of-view of 663.4 mm. I did this to allow for the wing extension of the heron as it launched itself into flight.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
All of the photographs in the series above were captured in 7/10th of a second.
When photographing birds it is always a good idea to have specific images in your mind so you can react to desired situations when they appear.
I had been watching this heron for a while, including capturing some photographs of it catching two large fish at the same time (that will be the subject of another article!). After the heron ate both fish I thought that the bird likely would take flight soon as its hunger would have been at least temporarily satisfied. I adjusted my camera to shoot at 20 fps and concentrated on the heron’s body movements so I could (hopefully) get my AF-C run. When the heron showed me the leg flex I was anticipating, I pressed the shutter and concentrated on keeping the bird in the frame as it launched itself into flight.
All photographs were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 gear as noted in the article. Images were produced from RAW files using DxO PhotoLab and the Nik Collection. While I exported a DNG file into CS6 I did not make any adjustments using CS6.
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