Photographing an aggressive blackbird chasing another bird is a challenging situation since these mid-air altercations are fleeting at best. Yesterday I had the opportunity to do a quick test using my C1 Custom setting on my E-M1X to capture an aggressive blackbird going after what appears to be a crow.
As test images, these photographs are not the best quality. The birds were about 100 metres (~328 feet) away and I was shooting towards the sun. This resulted in most of my captures being partially silhouette… which for black birds is far from ideal lighting. 🙂
These photographs are intended to help demonstrate how Pro Capture L and Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking can be used to capture fast breaking action.
While out photogaphing some cormorants in flight, I glanced to my right (towards the sun) and noticed a blackbird in the distance. It was flying after another larger bird and closing in on it.
I quickly brought my camera up to my eye, acquired focus on the birds just as the blackbird got in close to the other bird, and fired off a burst of images. I shot at 18 frames-per-second with my Pre-Shutter Frames set to 10 in Pro Capture L. My M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS was fully extended and fitted with an M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter. This created an equivalent field-of-view of 1120 mm.
Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking acquired focus very quickly. Not having to worry about moving AF points around made capturing this series of action photographs a fairly simple task.
This article shares a total of 13 consecutive images, all of which were captured in a total of about 3/4 of a second. The seventh image in the run had a little bit better lighting, which helps show details on the larger bird that was being chased by the aggressive blackbird.
Here is a full frame view of the action in the seventh image.
Here is the same image cropped to 2809 pixels on the width.
And, below is a 100% crop from the original full frame capture.
Given the distance of the birds, the lighting, and how quickly I had to respond to the photographic opportunity, I was pleased with the results from this aggressive blackbird test. Below is the complete series of 13 consecutive images. Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking seems to give priority to the bird closest to the camera, or closest to the position of an engaged AF point.
The more that I’ve been using my C1 Custom setting as my primary BIF setting, the more I am learning to appreciate the potential of using Pro Capture L and Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking in combination. Having the additional reach using my M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with my MC-14 teleconverter further extends my bird photography possibilities.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted.
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