Box of Chocolates Moment

Many of us can remember the famous scene in the movie Forrest Gump where life is compared to a box of chocolates. The phrase was used to describe the unpredictability of life… you never know what you’re going to get. Those of us who enjoy bird and nature photography have a box of chocolates moment every time we go out with our camera gear.

I was out at LaSalle Park in Burlington Ontario yesterday and was treated to a couple of wonderful box of chocolates moments. This posting provides some background on those moments and shares a selection of new photographs.

My first box of chocolates moment is illustrated by the third photograph in the following run of five consecutive images. I have included the five images to provide context. They were captured handheld with Pro Capture H using my standard settings of 15 Pre-Shutter Frames, and my Frame Count Limiter also set to 15. I shot at 60 frames per second.

I was sitting on a short stool, patiently waiting for some small birds to land in an area where other visitors had dropped some seeds. I was prepared for a vertical composition as many of the birds were dropping down into the area from branches directly above.

As I was looking through my viewfinder what appeared to be a couple of birds blasted through the frame. They were just a blur in my viewfinder. Instinctively I fully depressed my shutter release to commit my spooled photographs to my memory card. Even through I had to crop the bottom portion off in all of the photographs I was still pleased with the results.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3624 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3942 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3408 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 2544 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.6 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/4000, ISO-6400, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3144 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.6 metres

Mother Nature had certainly smiled down on me! The odds of this type of BIF action flying right through my composition at the exact ‘box of chocolates’ moment that I was spooling photographs into temporary memory with Pro Capture H, are incredibly small. The five photographs you just viewed were all captured in a total of 1/12th of a second.

My second box of chocolates moment is illustrated with the fourth photograph in the following run of five consecutive images. I think this is one of the best chickadee in-flight photographs that I have ever captured.

I was sitting on the same stool, patiently waiting for birds to arrive when a black capped chickadee darted in, then quickly banked, and landed. Fortunately I was set up for a horizontal composition and was able to capture the following five consecutive Pro Capture H images. All were captured handheld in a total of 1/12th of a second.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3732 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.9 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3968 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.9 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4057 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.9 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4214 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.9 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS @ 292 mm, efov 584 mm, f/6.3, 1/2500, ISO-5000, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4118 pixels on the height, subject distance 4.9 metres

Capturing this set of five images required some subject observation along with a bit of luck. I studied a number of birds that were coming to feed in the area where seeds had been left for them. This varied a bit so I had to use an educated guess as to where birds would likely come into land.

Then I chose a specific leaf or branch on the ground to use as my pre-focusing AF point. I used a small, single AF point and continually spooled images as I waited for a bird to land.  All the preparation in the world doesn’t matter if a subject bird doesn’t land where expected. If it lands too close, or too far away from the focal plane of my camera it wouldn’t be in focus. So… a bit of luck came into play.

Those of us who love to photograph birds-in-flight can relate to the feelings of awe, wonder, and thankfulness we experience when we capture a box of chocolates moment. They are what keeps us coming back for more!

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted as appropriate. This is the 1,097th article published on this website since its original inception.

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6 thoughts on “Box of Chocolates Moment”

  1. One thing about boxes of chocolates is that they cost money, and my non sequitur to that is with all the effort that you go to to take your bird photos: do you sell any of them through image libraries or do you take any of them for paid work? By way of example I take thousands of fishing photos and some have been used for articles I have written or to accompany other writer’s articles. Interested to know what outlets there for such photos.

    1. Hi Mark,

      At this point I don’t make much money with my bird photography. I don’t know if this will change significantly in the future. I have sold some prints covering a range of subject matter in the past, although very few bird prints. This website is primarily supported by reader donations and sales of our various eBooks. Before COVID-19 I also did some in-person photography coaching and presentations to camera clubs.

      Our camera-related client work has been the production of industrial safety videos, and well as some specific onsite industrial photography assignments. I also provide select industrial clients with some HR services such as normative profiles and executive coaching.

      As we continue our transition away from client work we will be investigating image libraries, and perhaps selling prints through selected, local retail outlets. We’re still gathering preliminary information on these options. The market for bird photography, like most other genres, has been glutted for many years. So, at this point I’m not sure of the current market potential.

      Tom

  2. Bird photography is just a form of gambling where we all bet or time in the hopes of a few good photos. No wonder it’s so addictive. Just like those box of chocolates 🙂

    1. Hi Karen,

      I agree that it is the hope of that unique or special image that keeps us picking up our cameras and going out on another adventure. Most of us can remember where we were and what we were doing when we captured our best images.

      Tom

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