Green Heron Taking Off From a Branch at 60 FPS

After experimenting for the past few weeks shooting my Nikon 1 gear at 60 frames per second (FPS), I’m becoming more comfortable using this approach, and now use it on a very regular basis. This short article shares a series of 15 consecutive images of a green heron taking off from a branch at 60 FPS.

Yesterday I was treated to a number of opportunities to photograph green herons. One such opportunity was to capture a bird as it launched itself into flight from a low branch overhanging the edge of a pond. The green heron was in shade which made the images a bit more challenging.

Shooting in Manual mode with Auto-ISO 160-6400, I decided to use a shutter speed of 1/1600 even though I would get some slight wing blur since this allowed for an ISO of 1100. To allow for the spread of the green heron’s wings as it launched into flight, I used a focal length of 192 mm (efov 518 mm). I shot hand-held using an aperture of f/5.6. I photographed the green heron using Matrix metering.

The 15 consecutive frames that follow were the last ones from a run of 40 images. As noted in earlier articles, when shooting at this fast frame rate with Nikon 1 gear, the first frame locks focus for the balance of photographs that follow. These 15 photographs were captured in a total of 1/4 of a second.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Frame 26, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 27, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 28, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 29, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 30, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 31, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 32, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 33, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 34, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 35, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 36, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 37, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 38, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 39, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100
Frame 40, Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192 mm, efov 518 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-1100

Frames 31 and 32 were the photographs that I had envisioned in my mind when I originally framed the subject bird. I thought it would be of benefit to show 15 consecutive frames so readers could get a good idea of how the subject bird filled the frame differently based on the position of its wings. Also, this series of images illustrates that even though the green heron was flying at an angle towards me, it had not moved physically close enough to my camera for the bird to go out of focus.

Being a physically small species, green herons launch into flight very quickly and provide very little advanced warning of their intention. This makes shutter release timing even more critical when compared to photographing larger birds such as a great blue heron.

Technical Note:
All photographs were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images in the article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection. All photographs were cropped to approximately 4400 pixels on the width, then resized for web.

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2 thoughts on “Green Heron Taking Off From a Branch at 60 FPS”

    1. Thanks Joni – I’m glad you enjoyed the images! I like quite a few of the other images in the run, although my planned captures were of the green heron with outstretched wings just about to leave its perch. When using very fast frame rates with the first image setting focus for the rest of the images it is tough to predict what kind of quality one will get further into the image run. Fortunately the heron wasn’t moving towards me too quickly so it never went out of focus.
      Tom

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