Watch The Second Bird

This article discusses the potential importance of watching the second bird in a pair, after the first bird has taken flight. More often than not, the second bird will also take flight and follow the flight path of the first bird. This gives photographers a great opportunity to catch the other bird taking flight… especially if they missed the action with first bird.

It is always beneficial to observe subject behaviour when photographing wildlife. Over the years I’ve noticed numerous situations where a pair of birds are hanging around together when the first bird decides to take flight. Within a few seconds it is very common for the other bird to follow suit.

Recently I was at Hendrie Valley photographing a variety of birds. It wasn’t an especially busy morning which made observing bird behaviour even more important. Being attentive often leads to photo opportunities.

I noticed a couple of mallard ducks keeping each other company. Even though they were both males, they seemed to have some kind of connection and kept in close proximity to one another.

Without warning one of the ducks took flight and I totally missed the chance to get any images of it taking off from the water. Knowing that pairs of birds will very often mimic behaviour, I immediately focused my camera on the second bird. Within a couple of seconds it too was airborne.

Since I had anticipated this behaviour I was able to capture a nice Pro Capture H image run. Below you’ll find 15 consecutive images captured handheld using an E-M1X, M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 zoom and M.Zuiko MC-14 teleconverter.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4159 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4080 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4040 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3722 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4005 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3998 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4149 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4118 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3813 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3988 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3897 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4220 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4195 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 4108 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 with M.Zuiko MCV-14 teleconverter @ 560 mm, efov 1120 mm, f/9, 1/2500, ISO-2500, Pro Capture H, cropped to 3980 pixels on the width, subject distance 52.5 metres

You’ll notice that I cut my Pro Capture H run short in terms of ending it as the duck was just getting airborne. I did this on purpose based on the flight angle of the duck.

Since the mallard was flying towards me and the auto-focus was locked, I did not want the mallard to fly too far from its launch position as it would fly out of focus. Ending the run just as the duck became airborne helped ensure that all of my photographs in this image run would be in focus.

When using Pro Capture H with Olympus cameras the first frame locks auto-focus and exposure for the rest of the frames that follow. This is also the case for many other mirrorless cameras that have fast frame rate capability. For example, my Nikon 1 cameras can all be shot at 30 or 60 frames-per-second. At these fast frame rates the first frame locks exposure and auto-focus.

I used my standard Pro Capture H settings for this image run. Both Pre Shutter Frames and Frame Limiter were set to 15. I used 60 frames-per-second with single point auto-focus. All of the photographs in this article were captured in a total of 1/4 of a second.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are indicated. This is the 1,077th article published on this website since its original inception.

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