Robin Taking Flight

This short article features some photographs of a robin taking flight in my backyard. For the foreseeable future I won’t be able to do any offsite bird photography as we are doing our part in terms of social distancing to help combat COVID-19. So, I will do the best I can by capturing some images of birds that visit my backyard.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Olympus OM-D 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-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 8 metres

The robin pictured above landed on one of the cross braces of a deck that I’m in the process of rebuilding. It looked around quickly, then took flight again.

Olympus OM-D 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-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 8 metres

This barely gave me enough time to acquire focus on it and execute a Pro Capture H run. Fortunately my Olympus OM-D E-M1X was up to the task. The six photographs in this article were all captured in a total of 1/10th of a second.

Olympus OM-D 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-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 8 metres

Since robins eat worms and insects they are typically found scurrying around on the ground. This makes it difficult to get a good shooting angle when they take flight.

Olympus OM-D 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-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 8 metres

The result is typically a camera angle looking down on the robin which obscures the underside of its wing and chest.

Olympus OM-D 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-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 8 metres

Being in the right place at the right time is a key ingredient of many bird photographs. We also need to be ready ‘in the moment’ and our gear must perform up to expectations. Fortunately everything came together for these images.

Olympus OM-D 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-3200, Pro Capture H mode, subject distance 8 metres

I haven’t had much luck photographing robins in the past. This robin taking flight produced the best image run I’ve been able to capture thus far. Right in my own backyard!

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 were cropped to approximately 4800 pixels on the width, then resized for web use.

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8 thoughts on “Robin Taking Flight”

  1. Tom,

    How apt for you to write “We need to be ready in the moment…” considering our current situation. Anyway, it’s a good time as any to rediscover what’s right in our own backyard (or in my case, building window). I’m not shooting the birds (mainly Eurasian tree sparrows) but feed them with seeds more regularly now. The WION site reported nature rebooting all over the world, including the rise in bird population as well as migration to the urban/suburban areas. Nice time as any to go birding right at home.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Hi Oggie,

      It will be interesting to see if we get any additional species visiting our backyard “considering our current situation”.

      I did spot an American Goldfinch a couple of days ago and grabbed some not-so-great images of it in flight. We do get these birds frequently in our yard, but this is the earliest we’ve seen one. As your comment notes, nature seems to be adjusting. Recently I read an online article that showed wild deer, goats and other wildlife walking during the day in urban settings.

      Hopefully we’ll get a lot of hummingbirds this year… they would make excellent Pro Capture H subjects!

      Tom

  2. I don’t (usually) photograph birds, Tom … but I can readily see that these are great shots.

    What are your Pro Capture settings for pre & post number of frames ?

    John

    1. Hi John,

      How I set up Pro Capture H varies by bird species. For smaller birds I usually set my Pre-shutter Frames to 15 and and Frame Count Limiter to either 15 or 20. Just prior to capturing this Pro Capture H run of the robin, I was photographing sparrows around one of my bird feeders so I had the Frame Count Limiter set to 20. This allowed me some additional latitude for the rapid movement of the sparrows and gave me 5 frames after I fully depressed my shutter release. If I was setting Pro Capture H with my E-M1X specifically for the robin I would have used my blue jay settings which would have meant setting my Frame Count Limiter to 15, i.e. not having any frames after I fully depress the shutter release.

      Here is a link to an earlier article that I wrote about using Pro Capture: https://smallsensorphotography.com/using-pro-capture-mode. As I gain more experience using Pro Capture H and L I may create a follow up article.

      Thus far I’ve found that I prefer using 60 frames per second with Pro Capture H as it gives me the best opportunity to capture specific wing positions. My E-M1X has other frame rate options with Pro Capture H including 15, 20 and 30 fps. I haven’t used Pro Capture L very much yet. It provides continuous auto focusing with frame rates of 10, 15 or 18 fps. Unless COVID-19 completely eliminates birding season this year, I plan on doing more experimentation with Pro Capture L with birds-in-flight.

      Tom

      1. Thanks for that, Tom – – I’ve been reading quite a bit about the OM-D E-M1~ range, and I’m becoming more & more impressed as I learn more about it. Some really interesting features and capabilities.

        John

        1. Hi John,

          Once I began using these features regularly I appreciated them even more. I’m at the point now that I can’t imagine not having capabilities like Pro Capture, Handheld Hi Res, Live ND and in-camera focus stacking. 🙂

          I’m looking forward to experimenting with Live Composite in the future. This is a feature I haven’t even tried yet.

          Tom

  3. These are once again so well shot. The detail and composure of the series is just excellent. I am glad you are able to get some shooting in your back yard as I cannot do that. The capabilities of the Oly M1X with Pro Capture in your hands clearly give opportunities for shots that were not previously possible. Thanks for continuing to share with us.

    Joel

    1. Thanks Joel… we appreciate the supportive comment!

      I’m not sure what constitutes ‘normal’ for individual readers during these challenging times. We’re doing our best to provide whatever respite we can with new articles… although the frequency of new postings will likely reduce somewhat as social distancing continues into the future. The E-M1X with its Pro Capture mode certainly makes certain types of action photographs so much easier to capture.

      Tom

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