Trumpeter Swans in Flight

Back in early March, as I was returning home from doing some lighting checks for a client video project, my ‘little voice’ told me to make a quick stop at LaSalle Park. Luckily I had a Nikon 1 V3 fitted with a 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm zoom with me, which allowed me to photograph some trumpeter swans in flight.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 213 mm, efov 575.1 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-180

Typically I would have to spend several hours at LaSalle Park in order to capture a small assortment of images of swans in flight. The birds spend most of their time milling about on the shoreline, or bobbing on the surface of the water. On this particular afternoon I happened to be at the right place at the right time. Mother Nature smiled down on me.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-160

For whatever reason the birds decided to treat me to a number of fly-by opportunities in quick succession.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291 mm, efov 785.7 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-280

A few of the swans flew past me, then did some circle-around movements giving me another chance to photograph them.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291 mm, efov 785.7 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-160

Some of the fly-by opportunities were at comparatively low levels. This allowed me to create some images using a focal length of only 118 mm… or an equivalent-field-of-view of 318.6 mm.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 118 mm, efov 318.6 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-160

Without question my impromptu decision to visit LaSalle Park ended up being on of my most productive birds-in-flight sessions of all time!

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229 mm, efov 618.3 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-180

How quickly did all of this action happen? I checked my EXIF data. All of the images of trumpeter swans in flight displayed in this article were captured within a 3 minute time frame!

When your ‘little voice’ whispers… it pays to listen!

Technical Note:
All images were captured hand-held using camera gear as per the EXIF data. All images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.

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2 thoughts on “Trumpeter Swans in Flight”

  1. I never cease to be impressed with your bird in flight photos and the great 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6. I would love to find one for sale but I fear I have left it too late.
    Everyone seems to have gone full frame crazy now. I predict very few would have had a full frame rig handy to take advantage of an opportunity as you did.

    1. Thanks for your comment Richard… I’m glad you have been enjoying the bird-in-flight photos!

      As the camera market has continued to contract, it seems that many manufacturers have decided that the best way to compete against cell phone photography and survive is with larger sensor cameras. Time will tell whether they will be able to design long focal length zoom lenses in small, easy-to-handle packages. The Nikon 1 CX 70-300 did represent a unique lens for birding.

      I did use a Nikon D800 with a Tamron 150-600 mm zoom for bird-in-flight photography. That combination was certainly capable of producing very good images, but was not nearly as nimble to use, especially for longer sessions. My purchase of the 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 zoom was the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of me deciding to stop using full frame camera gear. I sold my D800 and all of my F-mount full frame lenses back in July 2015. I suppose if I had to look at a birding kit today, I would investigate M4/3.


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