Gull Mid-Air Food Fights

Last week I had the opportunity to photograph some gull mid-air food fights during a visit to LaSalle Park in Burlington. Trying to pan with gulls chasing one another while fighting over food can be a challenging experience. One second they can be close together in mid-air, then a split second later far apart, as they dipsy-doodle while flying.

Given the highly erratic nature of the gull flight paths during food fights, I thought this behaviour would make a great mini-test for the E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI subject tracking. As I was tracking with the gulls I’d wait until their bodies got reasonably close during the food fights, then I’d capture a very short image burst.

My original intent during this visit to LaSalle Park was to practise using my MC-20 teleconverter to photograph birds-in-flight. As a result you’ll notice stopped down aperture settings in the EXIF data. The gulls in these images were generally between 75 and 115 metres away according to the estimated distances calculated by my E-M1X.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3801 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3670 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3433 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3509 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3283 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3245 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3368 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 400 mm, efov 800 mm, f/12, 1/1250, ISO-640, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3302 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 473 mm, efov 946 mm, f/12, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3377 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 473 mm, efov 946 mm, f/12, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3612 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 473 mm, efov 946 mm, f/12, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3247 pixels on the width
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 473 mm, efov 946 mm, f/12, 1/2000, ISO-1250, Bird Detection AI, cropped to 3217 pixels on the width

Before the introduction of the E-M1X’s Bird Detection AI subject tracking I would most likely have used Cluster Area C-AF to captureĀ  mid-air food fights.

Given that these were my first attempts using Bird Detection AI subject tracking to capture this type of mid-air action, I’ll be comfortable using this technology in the future for similar photographic opportunities.

Rather than the M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter, I’d use the MC-14. This would have made panning with the birds easier and resulted in a bit better image quality as my aperture wouldn’t have been stopped down to f/12.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted for each photograph.

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