Hawk Chasing Osprey

This article shares a selection of 14 handheld images of a red tailed hawk chasing an osprey, and discusses technology and technique. All of the photographs were captured at the ponds at Grindstone Creek in Hendrie Valley.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2579 pixels on the width, subject distance 226.6 metres

If you enjoy photographing birds-in-flight you’ve likely had opportunities to capture images of birds interacting in mid-flight.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3968 pixels on the width, subject distance 154.9 metres

These altercations often happen as birds try to steal food from one another, or fight over territory. As we can see in the image above, and the next five consecutive photographs that follow, this close flying action happens extremely quickly.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3009 pixels on the width, subject distance 152.8 metres
E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2996 pixels on the width, subject distance 154.9 metres
E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2619 pixels on the width, subject distance 171.1 metres
E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3146 pixels on the width, subject distance 177.5 metres
E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-400, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2702 pixels on the width, subject distance 171.1 metres

In can be a challenge to track with the birds as they dipsey-doodle through the air… and abruptly change speed and direction. Keeping auto-focus point(s) on the birds and timing your shutter release can  create additional challenges.

Now, let’s look at a set of four consecutive images.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2968 pixels on the width, subject distance 181.1 metres

On a comparative basis, capturing these photographs of a red tailed hawk chasing an osprey were relatively simple when using Pro Capture L in combination with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3235 pixels on the width, subject distance 186 metres

I relied on Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking to locate the birds in my EVF and keep them in focus as I half-depressed my shutter release. Since I had Pro Capture L engaged, this also triggered my E-M1X to record images into temporary memory.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2944 pixels on the width, subject distance 190.3 metres

Since the osprey was the bird under attack, I concentrated my tracking on that bird and waited for the hawk to re-enter my composition.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 3078 pixels on the width, subject distance 186 metres

I kept recording images into temporary memory, then as soon as the birds began to separate in mid-air I fully depressed my shutter release to write the photographs to my memory card. I held my shutter release down until the red tailed hawk exited my framing.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2250 pixels on the width, subject distance 164.7 metres

These mid-air interactions of a red tailed hawk chasing an osprey were far off in the distance. The subject birds were from 152.9 to 226.6 metres (~501 to 743 feet) away. Suffice to say I wasn’t expecting my resulting captures to be award winners. 🙂

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2032 pixels on the width, subject distance 171.1 metres

I was able to get a decent number of acceptable images of this red tailed hawk chasing an osprey. The combination of using Pro Capture L with Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking was ideal for these photographic opportunities.

These technologies allowed me to concentrate on my shutter release timing and keeping the birds in my frame. I didn’t have to concern myself with keeping fixed auto-focus points on the subject birds.

Technical Note:

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard approach in post.  Images were resized for web use. I used my standard Pro Capture L settings: Pre-Shutter Frames was set to 10 and my Frame Limiter was turned off. I shot at 18 frames-per-second in continuous auto-focus. As is my standard practice when using Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, I used a single AF point. This is the 1,206 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.

E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 IS with M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/1600,. ISO-500, Pro Capture L, Bird Detection AI Subject Tracking, cropped to 2576 pixels on the width, subject distance 166.8 metres

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10 thoughts on “Hawk Chasing Osprey”

  1. Hi Thomas. Those are fantastic shots. I am wondering, does the EM1-X tell you the distance to your point of focus in the EXIF data?

      1. Thanks Tom. I guess I need to
        Figure out how to see them. I see there’s some 3rd party EXIF viewers that can see the distance. It’s not apparent to me in the EXIF data in OM Workspace.

        1. Hi Derek,

          I store all of my photography files in Windows Explorer, and I view the subject distance information from that software (right click on file, go to Properties, then to Details). I have no idea why, but the subject distance information is only available after I process a file and view the information on the jpeg. Perhaps DxO PhotoLab is somewhat unveiling this information.

          One of our readers supplied the following information. I have never downloaded this particular program so I can’t personally vouch for it…

          “Create a folder anywhere on your system; named, say, “ExifToolGUI”

          Download .ZIP file from here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/78rffzxdoultrnr/AAAeL0FnqZEbaDJYOn2GpU5ha
          … and simply unZIP its contents into your new folder.

          Double-click on ExifToolGUI.exe to start the application – it will open by default to your Users folder.

          1) BEFORE you navigate to a folder containing your images, change the drop-down at the top from “Show ALL Files” to one of the other options (else it will include .dop/sidecar files and will look rather messy)

          2) Navigate to a folder containing your .ORF files … They’ll then be listed in the centre panel.

          3) Select any image/.ORF file and its EXIF data will appear on the RHS.

          Note:
          – You may occasionally see a pop-up with a message something like “List index out of bounds” – – Just click OK and ignore (The app is a bit “flakey” !!)
          – Also, it can get quite busy before it properly shuts-down .. just let it do its thing !”

          Best always,
          Tom

  2. Those are amazing results. Were you using AFC+Tracking or just AFC, and does it make any difference with Bird Detection active?

    1. Hi Richard,

      If my memory serves, AFC+Tracking needs to be selected when using Bird Detection AI. Within a few months of Bird Detection AI being introduced I began using it for all of by bird photography.

      Tom

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