Add Context with an Image Run

As photographers we are always looking for ‘the shot’ when we capture images of birds. Sometimes the action that happened just before, or just after ‘the shot’… can help define it. Often we can add context by showing an image run. This can be important when doing a presentation at a camera club or discussing photographs with associates. Let’s start by looking at a single photograph taken part way through an image run.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres

If you’re like me, you may find that the photograph above is visually appealing. The chickadee has an attractive wing position, and its eye is clearly visible. It almost feels like a ‘peek-a-boo’ moment.

I didn’t bother showing other images from this particular run as they didn’t add context. A bird crouched on a branch and launching forward doesn’t need a lot of visual explanation. In this case the context comes from explaining the original purpose of capturing the image above.

This photograph is the result of some testing I was doing earlier today with the Pro Capture H mode on my Olympus OM-D E-M1X. My objective was to find out if Pro Capture H could help a photographer capture a useable image when a subject bird was buried in behind some branches in a tree or bush.  My assessment was that Pro Capture H can be a viable option to consider in these types of shooting conditions. Especially if there is a clear flight path available to the bird.

Now, let’s have a look at a different situation where we can add context with an image run. First… our feature photograph. It was captured mid-stream in the Pro Capture H run…

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres

I like the chickadee’s wing position in our feature photograph. It has one leg raised which creates an expectation of future action. The bird’s gaze is locked on something behind it. This adds some intensity to the scene. Without seeing other photographs from the image run we can’t be sure of the bird’s intent.

One assumption that we can make is that the chickadee has seen something behind it… and it is flying away in fear. But… is this really the case? Let’s look at the entire series of seven photographs in the  Pro Capture H image run.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres

The three photographs captured prior to our feature image have not given us any clues as to the bird’s intent. All we know is that it has decided to take flight for some reason. Let’s see if the next three frames add context to our feature photograph.

Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres
Olympus OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 plus M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/8, 1/2500, ISO-1600, Pro Capture H, subject distance 4.1 metres

These last three images of the run add context to our feature photograph. By examining these three images we can see that the chickadee has noticed something of interest behind it. Rather than flying away in fear, it is actually turning around in mid-air… and flying towards whatever has captured its attention. This is completely opposite to the assumption noted earlier in this article.

When showing your bird photographs to others, be sure to add context with a verbal explanation, or by showing more photographs from the image run. Including an image run can often provide an interesting ‘slice of life’ perspective to your work.

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Technical Note:
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. All photographs are shown as 100% captures without any cropping.

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2 thoughts on “Add Context with an Image Run”

  1. Thanks Tom, excellent post as usual. It is easy to see from this the value that can come from posting more photos in a run.

    I have not had my M1X nearly as long as you but another benefit from the Pro Capture runs is the opportunity to see the bird’s movements just before it takes off. Watching the movements has helped me in learning more about how the birds act at take-off and then being better prepared to get the shot.

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspectives Joel!

      One of the more challenging ‘changes to technique’ for me when using the Pro Capture mode was waiting until I had witnessed the desired bird behaviour before I fully depressed the shutter on my E-M1X. I initially found that I was fully depressing the shutter far too early. I was getting far too many images of the bird still perched rather than in the launch process. Learning to wait until I saw the desired behaviour occur also allows for the use of fewer Pro Capture frames.

      Tom

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