Green Heron fishing and flying at 15fps

During my recent trip to Cuba I was able to capture a number of images of a green heron fishing and flying at 15fps with my Nikon 1 V2 and 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6.

The first short run of images you’ll see were taken as a green heron was flying along the water’s edge and landing in a bush. My V2 and the CX 70-300mm did a very good job acquiring focus against such a busy background. You’ll notice that the ISO has shifted mid-burst as I was shooting in Manual mode with auto-ISO selected.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100

The next two images were captured as a green heron burst out from behind some low hanging branches and quickly disappeared into a tree giving me very little time to acquire focus.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1400

The next few images are from a 14-shot burst that captured a green heron fishing from a low hanging branch. If you have never observed this fishing behaviour before it is quite remarkable how the green heron is able to extend its body, seeming to defy gravity before it strikes at its prey.

These images were captured during the late afternoon when the green heron was in dark shade. Unfortunately I inadvertently underexposed this series as I was doing my best to avoid shooting at ISO-6400 (these were captured at ISO-3200). I apologize in advance for the rather poor quality of the following images.

As you look at the next images it is good to keep in mind that all of this action happened in less than one second. These images are only 4 from a burst of 14.

Here is the green heron in its strike position..

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200

Then actually striking at its prey…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200

A few frames later it is beginning to recoil…

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200

Then beginning the process of pulling itself back up to the branch towards the end of the burst.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-3200

All of this happened in the blink of an eye and I think my V2 missed focus a bit on the last couple of frames, likely due to the dark conditions and the heron swinging back on a bit of an angle.

The next image is of a green heron in flight as it was banking towards me giving me a nice view of the top of its wings. You can see from the unattractive bokeh that it was flying against a very busy background.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1100

The next two images are of a green heron fishing along the bank, then a short time later actually catching a small fish. Knowing how far a green heron can extend itself to strike I pulled back on my zoom in the second image in order to capture its neck extension.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-900
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-900
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 212mm, efov 571mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 212mm, efov 571mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-800

While the Nikon 1 series has been much maligned by many reviewers I simply love using it to capture these types of images!

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8 thoughts on “Green Heron fishing and flying at 15fps”

  1. They’re lovely shots. The fine detail looks terrific but only on my screen, so the resolution of the lens looks great. Is it as good in print? How much sharpening (increasing acutance) do you have to apply?

    1. Hi Sean,

      As long as I have not cropped images very much I can usually print them up to 12″x18″ (30.5×45.7 cm) and get good results. I do my best to capture images full frame whenever possible as I don’t like to crop Nikon 1 V2 files as I’m only starting with 14MP.

      I don’t apply that much additional sharpening with my images. In OpticsPro 10 I typically take the lens softness settings for Global up to 1.20 and Detail to 70. Acutance, as you know, can be affected by other settings in post since edge contrast can be impacted by other adjustments. With bird images I usually take micro-contrast to +10 in OpticsPro and I often reduce highlights to perhaps -20. I may take black down a bit as well but I typically don’t do that for most images.

      I then export a DNG file into CS6. With bird images I will often take highlights to -50 and sometimes all the way to -100 depending on the image. This really helps to bring out more fine details. Most folks are likely not as aggressive as I am when using CS6 with their images. I usually do a bit of adjustment with contrast and perhaps tweak the white and black sliders. Often the image is ‘ready to go’ at that point. The odd time I may make a very minor adjustment or two in Nik Suite depending on the image.

      Tom

      1. Thank you Tom,

        I’m not a big PPer but I need to learn more about OP10’s lens settings to see what I can get out of my Tamron.

        Yes, I use OP10 thanks to your beautiful work on PhotographyLife and PRIME. It’s great! I have DxO for Sony which is powerful but it’s slow and I don’t like its reds.

  2. Brilliant work Tom, particularly given how effective the natural camouflage of the green heron is. No surprise, because the skill lies behind the camera, but I offer my respect regardless.

    From your posts, it looks like your Cuba trip was a huge success. Well done, and please keep writing!

    Cheers!

    Ross

  3. Those images are amazing and wonderful. Thank you very much.
    Really shows what is possible with a Nikon 1 in competent hands.

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