This article discusses some basic bird photographer etiquette and shares some images of a kinglet in flight. A few days ago I was out attempting to capture some new images of birds. Not having much luck at some area locations, I decided to do a quick stop at LaSalle Park before heading home.
Not much was happening at LaSalle Park either. On my way back to the parking lot I spotted another photographer who was ‘on a bird’. There is some basic bird photographer etiquette to follow in this situation.
Always approach quietly and slowly as not to scare the subject bird away. Never step in front of, or otherwise block, the site line of the photographer who is ‘on the bird’. Give them space to change their shooting angle should they need to move. Remain quiet and if possible signal your intent to also photograph the bird. Use your camera’s silent shutter if it has that option.
As luck would have it the subject bird was a kinglet. This was only my second opportunity to photograph this particular type of bird. The other time was at Audubon’s Francis Beidler Forest in South Carolina a number of years ago. I had managed to capture a few quick images of a perched kinglet before it darted off.
Even before I spotted the bird partially hidden in the foliage of the tree in which it was perched, I set the mode dial on my E-M1X to ‘C3’. This is my Pro Capture H custom setting. Situated about 7 metres (~23 feet) away from this diminutive bird, I placed a single auto-focus point on its head. Then, half depressed my shutter to engage Pro Capture H and begin recording images in temporary memory. It didn’t take long before the kinglet launched into flight.
Unfortunately the kinglet flew behind a branch hanging in front of it. This made some of my images unusable as it obstructed the view of the bird’s head and eye. I did manage the two photographs above.
The kinglet kept flying around the inside of the tree, darting from branch to branch. It paused on a branch for an instant, allowing me to capture a second Pro Capture H run. Being mainly belly shots they aren’t particularly good images, but I did find the some of the details (such as the bird’s feet) quite interesting. The next six consecutive images were captured in a total of 1/10th of a second.
I used my standard Pro Capture H settings for all of the photographs in this article. Both my Pre-shutter Frames and Frame Count Limiter are set to 15. I used a frame rate of 60 frames-per-second.
The final image series in this article incorporates 12 consecutive Pro Capture H photographs. This series yielded my best images of the kinglet. All of the following photographs were captured in a total of 1/5th of a second. As you view each photograph take note of the distance that the kinglet travelled in only 1/5th of a second. These little guys are fast!
In this next series of photographs I was about 8.7 metres (~28.5 feet) from the subject bird.
The next four photographs are my favourites from my brief encounter with this kinglet.
Here is the balance of my Pro Capture H run before the kinglet left the framing of my composition.
Some readers may wonder why I spend time to regularly photograph common small birds such as sparrows and chickadees with Pro Capture H. I do this to maintain my shutter release timing and technique, so when more unique opportunities like this kinglet arise, I have a better chance to successfully capture some photographs. When it comes to bird photography, we often only have a second or two to get our shots.
Without being able to use the Olympus Pro Capture H technology in my OM-D E-M1X, the photographs in this article would have been almost impossible to create.
If you’re new to bird photography remember the basic bird photographer etiquette outlined in the first part of this article. Demonstrating that you understand basic bird photographer etiquette will go a long way to help establish good working relationships with other photographers in your area. This can lead to them sharing bird location information with you, as well as providing some tips on their technique and camera settings, should you have an interest in same.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Photographs were cropped to 3800 pixels on the width, then resized for web use.
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