Raptorfest 2016

This weekend I had a chance to spend a couple of hours at the Raptorfest 2016 event in Grimsby, Ontario.

Having attended Raptorfest events in the past I knew what to expect from a photography standpoint – difficult lighting in a local hockey arena with crowds of people further complicating things.

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, 1/100, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200

The image above, and the following one, are representative of the typical images that one captures during this event.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200

As you can see it can be a challenge to eliminate people or recognizable elements of the hockey arena in photographs. Since I sold my Nikon D800 and all of my FX glass last year I didn’t have the option to use the D800’s low light capability, or use a fast lens like a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G with my FT-1 adapter on my Nikon 1 V2. And, I knew from past experience that my 1 Nikon 32mm f/1.2 would not give me the reach I’d need to shoot at the event.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

So, I decided to shoot at a maximum of ISO-3200 and use my trusty 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom with the hope that I could get some usable images even though I would likely have to use some fairly slow shutter speeds.

At ISO-3200 I knew that I would be pushing the small 1″ CX sensor in my Nikon 1 V2, even with the use of the PRIME noise reduction function in OpticsPro 10 Elite. So, my visit was not about capturing any marketable images, but simply to have a bit of fun.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-3200

This meant not only concentrating on my hand-holding technique, but also watching my subjects and timing my images to take advantage of when the birds and other animals were somewhat still.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

The diminutive Saw Whet Owl was reasonably cooperative and I was able to capture a number of usable images of it. I spent some time formulating my photographs in my mind, trying to approach the subjects from angles that would allow me to choose backgrounds that would (hopefully) not identify the location as a local hockey arena.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 270mm, efov 728mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 270mm, efov 728mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-3200

The folks from Bird Kingdom had a small display with a couple of birds on perches. By using the hockey boards and some greenery in the next display area as my backgrounds, I was able to get some reasonable images.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200

The Canadian Raptor Conservancy put on a few presentations during the day with some good crowds in attendance. Since the presenter was moving pretty constantly during her raptor presentations it was quite difficult to capture any images, especially given the slower shutter speeds I was using.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 186mm, efov 502mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 186mm, efov 502mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 186mm, efov 502mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 186mm, efov 502mm, f/5.6, 1/30, ISO-3200

Timing and patience did pay off with a few decent captures at slower shutter speeds as you can see above.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 254mm, efov 686mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 254mm, efov 686mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200

As was the case in previous years at Raptorfest there were also a few reptile specimens on display. I grabbed a few images while their handlers were carrying them.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, efov 618mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, efov 618mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200

When shooting in these kinds of circumstances I always prefer to use tight framing on my images to help focus a viewer’s eye as well as eliminate distracting backgrounds.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

Framing images tightly also creates an air of intimacy with the subject.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

To achieve the background angles I wanted in my images I ended up shooting with my 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 fully extended for many of my photographs.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200

One of the more challenging subjects was a tame, young Bob Cat. It was wearing a bright green collar and leash which does not really communicate a ‘wild cat’ message.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

It was also pretty active so I decided to use extremely tight framing to focus in on just the face of the Bob Cat, thus eliminating the bright green collar and leash.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-3200

After shooting still images for about an hour and a half I decided to switch things up and also captured some hand-held video. Unfortunately I did not bring a monopod with me as I didn’t originally plan to shoot any video. I used ‘active’ vibration control to try to reduce camera shake as best I could as I was shooting with the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 fully extended to 300mm most of the time. Folks who are interested can view the following short YouTube video.

It was an enjoyable couple of hours spent at Raptorfest 2016 capturing some practice images and a few video clips.

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7 thoughts on “Raptorfest 2016”

  1. Hi Tom, I have been volunteering for RaptorFest since it started 21 years ago, and sit on the committee. One of my volunteer tasks is their facebook page. I just Googled RaptorFest and came across this beautiful and interesting blog of yours. Would you mind if I took the link to RaptorFest’s facebook page for others to see? thank you! carla

    1. Hi Carla,
      If you would like to link to my blog, and this article specifically, that is fine with me. I think RaptorFest is an event that many families would enjoy and if my article can help generate some additional interest in the event I’m very supportive.
      Tom

  2. I especially liked #3 for the detail, texture and contrast of the feathers. Remarkable. The size of the eye on #5 is almost alarming and defines the image. Wow, those prey better watch out. Very enjoyable to view on a rainy CO morning. Thanks.

    1. Hi Pam,

      Glad you liked them – and thanks for the positive comment! Like you, I find the eyes on owls to be their ‘commanding feature’. It would have been nice if I didn’t have to shoot at ISO-3200 as I do lose details and colour differentiation with my small CX sensor – but sometimes it just is what it is.

      Tom

  3. Fantastic images Tom!

    Interesting to compare them with the examples of poor results some less experienced photographers get with FX bodies and long lenses; they don’t understand you need to get the animal reasonably close into the frame to see fur or feather detail.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the images Dave! As you point out it is always important to fill the frame as much as possible to maximize the potential to capture feather and fur details. Having to shoot at ISO-3200 with my V2 does challenge its small sensor, even when using DxO OpticsPro PRIME noise reduction. With similar image framing the low light performance of larger sensor cameras like full frame and APS-C is a definite advantage under this type of lighting.
      Tom

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