This article features a number of images of Great Blue Heron in flight captured during my recent trip to Cuba. All were shot hand-held using a Nikon 1 V2 and a 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.
To help illustrate the AF-C and subject tracking capability of the Nikon 1 system I have included the next 10 photographs which are sequential images taken as part of one AF-C burst. All are full frame captures without any cropping.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
I shot my V2 in Manual mode, with centre weighted average metering, and Auto-ISO. The small size and light weight of my Nikon 1 gear made it far less tiring to keep my lens focused on a perched bird waiting for it to take flight.
Since the water in marsh area adjacent to our hotel was much deeper than usual there were only a couple of Great Blue Herons in the area which restricted the number of opportunities I had to capture them in flight.
So, when image opportunities presented themselves I had to count on the AF-C and subject tracking capability of my Nikon 1 V2 to get the job for me… and I was not disappointed.
The image above is one of my favourite ones captured during my week in Cuba. The heron had been standing in the water motionless for some time and I had been diligently maintaining my focus and framing on it for over 5 minutes when it suddenly decided to take flight. I was able to capture it just as it became airborne with water still streaming from its feet and legs.
As you can see in the next three images (frames 10, 13 and 16 of the sequential series) my Nikon 1 V2 did a good job maintaining AF-C. All three images below are full frame captures without any cropping.
The final image that I’d like to share with you is a tad out-of-focus (for which I apologize)…but there is a bit of a story that goes along with this photograph.
This particular heron had been perched opposite me, high up in a tree on the other side of an expanse of water in the marsh. I had been watching and focusing on it for quite a while when it started to get a bit agitated so I figured it was about to take off.
To my surprise rather than fly off at a good height it swooped down out of the tree and came straight at me about 6 feet above the surface of the water. As I furiously tried to acquire focus it loomed ever larger in my lens. It veered off just as my V2 locked focus on the long feathers at the base of the bird’s neck and as I rattled off a couple of shots.
I’m sure the heron wasn’t as close to me as I felt is was as I watched the bird approach me through my viewfinder, but none-the-less it was a rather invigorating experience!
Gaining familiarity with our equipment and learning how to use it effectively are very important factors in capturing usable bird-in-flight images.
When I visited this same resort last year I missed all kinds of birds-in-flight images even though I was using the exact same Nikon 1 gear. This year with far fewer opportunities I came home with many more images of birds-in-flight. This served as a good reminder to me that when we buy new gear it takes some time to learn how to use it properly.
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Article and all images Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication of any kind, or adaptation is allowed without written consent.