Flying Inside Bushes

This article shares some images of sparrows flying inside bushes. Many of us who enjoy bird photography will attest to the fact that some action sequences are challenging to photograph. Capturing small birds in flight is challenging at the best of times. To photograph them while they are flying inside bushes takes it up another notch.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Let’s start off with a Pro Capture H image run of 10 photographs that shows a sparrow launching into flight, then continuing on and flying past some branches. I used a frame rate of 60 frames-per-second to create this image run. The following images were cropped to approximately 3600 pixels on the width. The subject bird was repositioned in the frames. The images were then resized for web use.

All of the photographs that you are about to view in this image run were captured in a total of 1/6th of a second.

Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2500, subject distance 9.2 metres

This type of action sequence of birds flying inside bushes can be confidently captured using the Olympus Pro Capture H mode. I had my E-M1X set to 15 Pre-shutter Frames and I used a Frame Count Limiter of 15 frames. This meant that once I fully depressed my shutter my E-M1X would write the files in temporary memory to my card, but my camera would not capture any additional photographs.

Let’s look at another Pro Capture H run captured at 60 frames-per-second. I used the same Pro Capture settings. The following 5 consecutive images were captured in a total of 1/12th of a second. These photographs were cropped to varying degrees on the width in the 3200 to 3600 pixel range. They were then resized for web use.

Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2000, subject distance 10.5 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2000, subject distance 10.5 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2000, subject distance 10.5 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2000, subject distance 10.5 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-2000, subject distance 10.5 metres

When using Pro Capture H to photograph small birds flying inside bushes I used the smallest single auto-focus available with my E-M1X. Depending on where the bird is positioned in the tree or bush it is sometimes impossible to position the single auto-focus point on the bird’s head. I never let this bother me. As long as I can get my single auto-focus point on a part of the bird’s body, I know I will still be able to capture my Pro Capture H run.

Our final image run is comprised of 3 consecutive images. These were taken from the back end of a Pro Capture H run, after the bird had already flown past some visual obstructions. By considering the most likely flight direction of the bird and anticipating when it may fly past visual obstructions you can capture ‘cleaner’ photographs. The following 3 photographs were captured in a total of 1/20th of a second.

Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1000, subject distance 10.4 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1000, subject distance 10.4 metres
Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-1000, subject distance 10.4 metres

Our final sample image demonstrates how Pro Capture H mode can be used to photograph birds on the other side of a mass of branches and still get the bird in focus.

Olympus OM-E E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-1250, subject distance 16.9 metres

To capture this type of image I observed where the sparrows were landing on one of their favourite bushes in my neighbour’s backyard. I then placed my single auto-focus point on a particular branch, then waited for a sparrow to land on it. Once the bird landed, I fully depressed my shutter release to lock in the images stored in the temporary memory of my E-M1X.

I cannot stress enough how confidently one is able to capture these types of images with the Olympus Pro Capture H mode. All of the photographs in this article were captured on Easter morning while I was in my backyard.

One of the biggest reasons why I love my Olympus O-MD E-M1X is that it makes it possible for me to confidently capture photographs that were relegated to ‘luck’ in the past.

Technical Note:
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Photographs we cropped to approximately 3600 pixels on the width, then resized for web use.

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4 thoughts on “Flying Inside Bushes”

  1. Tom,

    Impressive captures indeed!
    Even perched birds among the branches are hard to capture in focus so moving sparrows really take the challenge notches above. The Oly really impresses. Then again, of course, we also have to take your birdwatching/birding skills into account as predicting correctly the bird’s next direction/move can greatly help in aiding a capture.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Hi Oggie,

      The more I use Pro Capture, the more I realize how much of a game changer this is for certain aspects of bird photography. It is hard to fully describe the level of confidence one has capturing images of a bird taking flight using this technology. As your comment points out, anticipating flight direction is an important aspect of getting a good Pro Capture H image run.

      Tom

  2. Really interesting to read about this powerful feature and your Pro Capture technique, Tom … Thanks for these insights.

    John TKA

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