This article features twelve handheld photographs of a cardinal leaping… all of which were created with an E-M1X using Pro Capture H at 60 frames-per-second. Many of us who enjoy bird photography concentrate on birds-in-flight. We sometimes forget that small birds frequently leap between branches. These images can be interesting captures, especially if the bird’s wings are at least somewhat extended.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Our first set of photographs of a cardinal leaping features eight consecutive images. What attracted me to this particular cardinal was that it was partially visually obstructed in amongst some twigs and branches.
As photographers we sometimes don’t even attempt to capture any photographs when birds are in a visually obstructed position as it can be difficult to acquire auto-focus on them.
I often take an opposite point of view, and specifically look for birds that are partially obstructed visually. To me, being able to capture in-focus images of birds leaping or flying in amongst twigs and branches can add some context and visual interest to photographs.
It is always a good idea to study small birds that are perched in amongst twigs and branches to see how they are moving.
Often birds that are leaping to branches that are lower than the one on which they are perched will keep their wings tucked in tight to their bodies.
I don’t find this type of body position very interesting and I usually don’t bother photographing birds leaping in a downward trajectory.
Birds leaping upwards will often extend their wings. The main challenge is that unless a photographer is shooting in a portrait orientation, the bird leaves the frame very quickly.
Often the best opportunities are when birds are leaping laterally and have to travel 2 to 3 times their body length. In these situations they will often extend their wings which adds some interest to the images.
I try my best to position myself so the birds are leaping parallel to the focal plane of my camera. This helps ensure that the entire Pro Capture H run will be in focus.
Our second set of images of a cardinal leaping features four consecutive Pro Capture H photographs. The subject bird in these photographs was watching me while in mid-air. This adds a feeling of intimacy to the photographs.
Whenever I use Pro Capture H I always use a single AF point as I find this makes it much easier to get a subject bird in focus, especially when it is partially obscured visually.
I need to stay very aware of the bird’s movements, especially if it draws closer or moves slightly away from me as this can affect focus. As a result I often reacquire auto-focus on a subject bird a number of times before it decides to leap to another branch.
The early spring and late fall are often ideal times of year to capture photographs of small birds leaping in trees and shrubs since the twigs and branches are devoid of leaves. The absence of foliage obviously makes it much easier to spot the perched birds.
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. Photographs were resized for web use. This is the 1,146 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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