One never knows what to expect from Mother Nature when we’re out with a camera. Yesterday I was very fortunate and happened to photograph an osprey catching a large goldfish.
The action happened a good distance from my vantage point which necessitated very aggressive image cropping, so the quality of these photographs suffered as a result. Nonetheless, I thought readers may find these images of interest.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I had noticed some ospreys doing a few flyovers earlier in the day but they had remained up fairly high over the pond. This indicated that the birds weren’t in a mood to do any fishing.
It was early afternoon and I had just finished filling my buffer with a series of 40 tern images when I looked up to my right and noticed an osprey slowly descending in a circular pattern and drawing closer to the surface of the pond. This behaviour typically indicates that an osprey has spotted a target fish. As soon as I saw that behaviour I moved as quickly as I could towards that end of the pond so I could get closer to the action.
Before I could make it all the way down to the other end of the pond, the osprey dropped its legs down with its talons thrust out, and folded in its wings, indicating it was going to dive after a target fish. Knowing that I wouldn’t have time to get much closer I decided that I’d have to shoot from my current vantage point. I stopped and looked down at my Nikon 1 V3. The light on the back panel was still blinking so I knew that the tern images that I had just shot were still writing to the memory card. I realized there wasn’t much point trying to use my V3 to photograph the osprey diving in mid-air in front of me.
Luckily I had a Nikon 1 V2 mounted with another CX 70-300 mm in my Tenba shoulder bag. I quickly grabbed it, extended the lens which turned on the camera, and brought it up to my eye just as the osprey hit the water. I was able to roughly frame the osprey and fired off a very rushed AF-C run at 15 frames per second, moments after the osprey became airborne.
I didn’t pan with the movement of the osprey as smoothly as I would have liked and as a result I missed a number of frames in the AF-C run. I was able to get a few passable images.
The presence of goldfish in a pond that feeds into Lake Ontario is a direct result of people releasing their pet fish into the water system. Given the size of the goldfish in this image series it is apparent that goldfish have been living in the pond for quite some time. Releasing pet fish, reptiles and other animals into the wild is obviously a very irresponsible thing to do as the introduction of foreign species can have unforeseen impacts.
Yesterday’s experience with this osprey acted as a good reinforcement regarding the importance of checking one’s camera gear before heading out. Like most photographers I have a standard routine that I use prior to going out for a shoot. This includes putting fresh memory cards in each camera, charging up a sufficient number of spare batteries and placing them in different pockets in my shoulder bag based on camera model, making sure I have a good supply of empty memory cards in my bag, doing a quick sensor cleaning with a gel stick, as well as cleaning the filters on the front of my lenses.
I also check my camera settings to help ensure that I can start my next day’s shoot using the correct configuration. In this case it meant shooting in Manual (aperture set to f/5.6, and shutter at 1/2000 which is a decent starting point for most birds-in-flight) using Continuous Auto-Focus with Subject Tracking, a suitable frame rate (my V3 was set to 20 fps, my V2 at 15 fps), Auto-ISO 160-6400, and appropriate metering (in this case Matrix).
The other thing that I specifically do when shooting with two telephoto zoom camera set-ups is to always remove the lens cap on both cameras so I don’t have to fumble around later. I shoot with one camera strapped around my neck, the other one nose down in my shoulder bag, positioned for a quick right hand grab if I need it. All of these small preparation steps allowed me to confidently grab my V2 when needed and capture some very rushed, but passable, images of the osprey catching a large goldfish. As is often said, luck is best defined as when preparation meets opportunity.
All photographs were captured hand-held using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
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