Attempted Fish Theft Captured at 60 Frames Per Second

The conditions for bird photography were less than ideal today with grey, overcast skies and blustery winds. Since the bird migration season is underway I decided to grab a couple of cameras and head off to the Hendrie Valley Sanctuary anyway, just to see what opportunities I could find. I noticed a couple of gulls bickering over a dead fish and watched them intently, thinking that something noteworthy may occur. This article features 40 consecutive photographs of an attempted fish theft captured at 60 frames per second.

As regular readers will know, I’ve been experimenting shooting at 60 frames per second for a while. I’ve become more and more accustomed to using this fast frame rate, and it is now a regular technique that I use when photographing birds.

Typically I now go out with a Nikon 1 V3 set to 60 frames per second, and a Nikon 1 V2 set to 15 frames per second, with both camera bodies equipped with a 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens. From time to time during an outing I will change the frame rate on the Nikon 1 V3 to either 10 or 20 frames per second depending on the subject matter. The majority of the time my V3 is now set for 60 frames per second.

The images that follow were shot using a Nikon 1 V3 in Manual mode, with Auto-ISO 160-6400, using Continuous Auto Focus (AF-C) and Subject Tracking.

In the first frame, you’ll notice the floating gull has a fish in its beak. In subsequent frames the gull then puts its head underwater and moves about on the surface of the water to keep its fish away from the other gull hovering above it, as it tries to steal the fish.

By clicking on the images you can go through the series of images to get a better feeling of the action that was captured.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Frame 1
Frame 2
Frame 3
Frame 4
Frame 5
Frame 6
Frame 7
Frame 8
Frame 9
Frame 10
Frame 11
Frame 12
Frame 13
Frame 14
Frame 15
Frame 16
Frame 17
Frame 18
Frame 19
Frame 20
Frame 21
Frame 22
Frame 23
Frame 24
Frame 25
Frame 26
Frame 27
Frame 28
Frame 29
Frame 30
Frame 31
Frame 32
Frame 33
Frame 34
Frame 35
Frame 36
Frame 37
Frame 38
Frame 39
Frame 40

I would certainly encourage any readers who use mirrorless cameras which have very fast frame rates to make use of this unique camera capability. The precision motion captures that are possible when shooting at very fast frame rates are quite astounding. Be forewarned that once you start using fast frame rates on a regular basis, you may get spoiled!

To me, a run of images captured at a fast frame rate simply tells a more compelling story. These small ‘slice of life moments’ happen all around us, all of the time. Fast frame rates bring them to life – even if the subjects are ubiquitous gulls.

I can’t imagine myself ever buying a camera in the future that did not offer fast frame rate shooting capability.

Technical Note:
All photographs in this article were captured handheld in available light using Nikon 1 gear as noted in the article. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection. Photographs were cropped to approximately 4300 pixels on the width, then resized for web use.

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2 thoughts on “Attempted Fish Theft Captured at 60 Frames Per Second”

  1. Hi Tom.

    Marvelous run if I may say so — great frozen action at 60 fps: the spread of the wings and the movement of the feet especially from frame 23 to 27! Nothwithstanding the grey weather, the fight for food (and keepers) goes on!


    1. Thanks Oggie – I’m glad you enjoyed the image run! From a practical standpoint I certainly wouldn’t expect readers who choose to shoot at this frame rate to save all of the images as keepers. The real intent of these types of articles is to encourage readers to experiment with various frame rates that their camera gear may offer, and to not dismiss certain frame rates simply because it is not continuous auto-focus.

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