In my first part I already talked about the reason why wildlife photography often brings a series of failures with a little success happening occasionally and explained why to use Pro Capture for bird photography. In this part I will explain how I managed to take pictures of birds with my OM-D E-M1X.
Autofocus limited to 4 meters, single line with AF points, Pro Capture mode with a continuous autofocus, and a shutter button pressed halfway. Every single time I saw on a screen a bird on a branch with the other tit flying in the background, I pressed the shutter button all the way down. Taking into account the speed at which tits were moving, I achieved the assumed goal incredibly quickly. All thanks to the combination of several E-M1X functions.
A woodpecker's tongue is thought to be one of its kind, as a bird can pull it out for quite a few inches. So, I began to dream of photographing the woodpecker's tongue.After hours of tracking and secret hiding, the long-awaited model flew finally over. I recognized a female, as they have grey-colored heads, in contrast to males, heads of which are reddish. When the bird felt safe enough, it started to observe the surroundings closely, camouflaged by its natural coloration. After a few successful portrait shots, I decided to set the bar even higher and photograph a thin, barbed edge of the woodpecker’s tongue, used to pull the insects out from the corridors of an anthill. I could not believe that the autofocus would be able to shift from the bird's eye to the tip of the extended tongue in a fraction of a moment.
Yet, I waited for the right moment, until the female would face me, so that I could see it in the blurred background. I increased the sensitivity of the AF to its maximum to enable its immediate focus on the tongue. To my surprise, the autofocus in the E-M1X proved to be extremely fast and accurate, because the first and only attempt was completely successful. I am almost certain that, when using a different camera model or a system, I would never succeed in taking this picture.
In the blink of an eye the whole scenery changed. The middle-spotted woodpecker appeared and joined my model immediately. The birds were dancing for a moment around the trunk of a dead tree. Instantly, I set the camera in a vertical orientation. The analogously placed function keys in the E-M1X allowed me to effectively take advantage of these few seconds. The idyllic situation was unfortunately interrupted by the sudden and unexpected attack of a hawk, the deadly enemy of all birds. The camouflage of my birdy female friend did not work this time. Perhaps, it got distracted by the middle-spotted woodpecker. After a few seconds of watching how the bird was tearing apart its prey, piece by piece, I decided to record what I saw using 120 fps. I spent the rest of that day alone in my look-out point waiting for the sunset.
For billions of years nature has been governed by its own rules, and we, humans, are only a small cog that should not interfere in these processes. I have watched beautiful and breathtaking scenes many times, but among them I can find also those, which made me shed my tears. Please remember, we should not expect from animals any moral or ethical behavior. The world will become more beautiful, when we accept our destiny and, together with animals, behave in the more moral and ethical way.
Author & Photographer: Lukasz Bozycki