Mother Nature recently gave me opportunities to capture images of two different osprey catching fish within a half hour of each other. This article shares a selection of images of one of those osprey fishing, and discusses the importance of buffer management.
When photographing birds in flight it is always important to keep the limitations of your camera’s buffer size in mind. We’ve all experienced feelings of helplessness when we’ve fired off an AF-C run which filled our buffer, then missed other image opportunities as our camera worked to clear its buffer.
As the osprey in the following photographs dove down to catch a fish, I could tell by its water entry angle that it would be flying towards me with its catch. I quickly decided that I would take two short AF-C runs. The first as it began to take off from the water, then a second burst as the bird flew closer to me.
My Nikon 1 V3’s buffer fills with 40 images. Since I was photographing using a frame rate of 20 frames per second, I knew I only had a total of about 2 seconds to capture my two image bursts.
First, let’s take a look at some of the photographs of the osprey leaving the water with its catch. Here are four consecutive images taken from my first AF-C run.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
The photographs above will give you a good idea of the camera angle, distance to subject, and the various wing and fish positions captured during the initial AF-C burst.
Once the osprey was airborne I stopped my AF-C run and waited a few seconds for it to fly in closer to me. My objectives were to capture some details of the fish in its talons and to get a better profile view of the osprey. Pausing also allowed a few of the original images in my buffer to clear.
The next four images are consecutive photographs from the second short AF-C run that I captured.
The importance of buffer management is clear when we look at the difference in perspective between these two AF-C runs of the same action sequence. It is a matter of personal taste which part, or parts, of an action sequence that a photographer decides to capture. Effective buffer management allows us to make the most of the fleeting image opportunities that Mother Nature provides.
Another factor that can be helpful with buffer management is to use fast writing memory cards. They may cost more but often make the difference between capturing additional images, or missing them completely.
All of the photographs in this article were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. A continuous auto-focus frame rate of 20 frames-per-second was used, with subject tracking. Camera was set to Manual mode with Auto ISO 160-3200. All images were produced from RAW files. Photographs were cropped to 3300 pixels in width, then resized to 1200 pixels.
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