If we’re lucky from time to time we get the opportunity to capture an interesting bit of nature playing out before our eyes. I had one such opportunity on Saturday afternoon when I was able to photograph a blackbird chasing a hawk in flight.
I was sitting at my kitchen table having just returned from Grimsby harbour after trying to photograph some terns in flight with my Nikon 1 V2 and Nikon 1 CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR. It was a very dull, grey, overcast day so I cut my session short and had returned home.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I was casually looking at my tern images on the rear panel of my Nikon 1 V2 when I noticed a quick reflection on the top of my glass kitchen table of a hawk flying overhead. I jumped up from my chair and dashed out of the patio door onto the deck to try to get some images of the hawk in flight. Luckily I had not changed the settings on my camera so all I had to do was locate the hawk, acquire focus, and fire.
I took a very short, initial burst of hawk images and was watching the hawk when I noticed a red-winged blackbird diving down aggressively from above the hawk. I figured something interesting was about to happen so I re-acquired focus on the hawk just as the blackbird entered the frame and began chasing the hawk.
Since my Nikon 1 V2 was set for 15 fps in AF-C with subject tracking I was able to capture a run of 25 images while keeping both birds in frame for just under 2 seconds. Within a moment the altercation was over and the blackbird and hawk flew off in different directions. I came back in from my deck wondering if my Nikon 1 gear had been able to capture anything usable.
I went upstairs to my office and opened my files with DxO OpticsPro 10 and as I expected the background sky was terrible – just a wash of dull grey. I had my V2 set for spot metering in the hope that I could at least get decent metering on the terns I had been trying to photograph earlier and I hoped that setting would help with my hawk images. So, I begin working with the RAW files.
I let OpticsPro 10 do its automatic adjustments, then took highlights down slightly (-10) and adjusted shadows a bit (+5). I moved Smart Lighting to ‘medium’, made some small adjustments to the Lens Softness settings, then applied PRIME noise reduction.
I then exported a DNG file into CS6. When the DNG files opened in CS6 they were quite dark as I had anticipated. I tweaked the contrast slightly, then was very aggressive with the shadow and white sliders which made a significant improvement to the files. I then took the files into the Nik Suite for some very minor, final adjustments.
Given the poor lighting conditions I wasn’t expecting great images. As it turned out I did some acceptable quality ones for this article. All of the images needed to be cropped and they are all about 33% of the original frames. All things considered I was quite pleased with how my Nikon 1 V2 performed with the CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 lens.
Technical Note: All images in this article were taken hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 with Nikon 1 CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens. The Nikon 1 V2 was set for 15 fps in AF-C with subject tracking, VR was turned off. White balance was set to Auto. Auto 160-6400 ISO was used.
My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to make a modest $10 donation through PayPal to support my work it would be most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org through PayPal.
As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store.
Article, images and YouTube video images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.