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Date: 18/03/2016 | By: Heather

Photographing Animals with Nikon 1 – Guest Post by Thomas Stirr

nikon 1 wildlife photography

Photographing Animals with Nikon 1 – Guest Post by Thomas Stirr

Like many folks I enjoy taking photographs of various animals including mammals, reptiles, birds and bugs. I’ve never been on a safari or done any kind of wilderness photography adventure. As a result my images are a mix of captive specimens as well as photographs of species that are either local to me or are ones that I found while on vacation.

This article shares a selection of images and some information on where and how the images were captured. All of the images in this article were taken hand-held using Nikon 1 gear.

nikon 1 wildlife photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-200 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

For a couple of weeks this past December I had a sharp-shinned hawk appear in my backyard on a number of occasions and I was able to capture the image above during one of its visits.

nikon 1 wildlife photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 212mm, f/6.3, 1/1600, ISO-160 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

Each spring I enjoy visiting Hamilton Harbour to try my hand at capturing cormorants in flight.

nikon 1 wildlife photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 186mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-400 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
nikon 1 v2 wildlife
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 110mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-220 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

Early in the season the birds are busy with repairing and building nests which can help give photographs additional detail and perspective.

nikon 1 wildlife photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-900 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

Hummingbirds are also seasonal visitors to the Southern Ontario area and I often visit Ruthven Park in Cayuga, focusing on capturing images of hummingbirds in flight. Using a minimum shutter speed of 1/3200 and shooting at 15fps in continuous auto-focus with subject tracking with my Nikon 1 V2 helps to capture interesting wing positions.

nikon 1 wildlife photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-560 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
nikon 1 wildlife photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-160 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

Ducks tend to be reasonably plentiful in the area throughout much of the year and I can often capture images at Grimsby Harbour and along 40 Mile Creek.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1250, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1250, ISO-1250 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

On occasion cormorants and other species can be spotted at the mouth of the creek.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 267mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-1400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 267mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-1400 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1250, ISO-1800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/6.3, 1/1250, ISO-1800 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The ponds at Dufferin Islands in Niagara Falls are also good spots to capture images of various waterfowl.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 261mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 261mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-400 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

I often visit Mountsberg Conservation area to view and photograph the captive raptors such as the bald eagle above. Having to shoot through the wire mesh enclosures can be a challenge at times. I typically shoot my Nikon 1 V2’s using single point auto-focus and most often use centre-weighted metering.

Nikon 1 photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-160 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

With a bit of luck capturing a wild osprey in flight is also a possibility at Mountsberg Conservation. When shooting birds in flight I often shoot in Manual mode, using an auto-ISO setting.

Nikon 1 photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 124mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-280 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 157mm, f/5.6, 1/50, ISO-2500 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The Metro Toronto Zoo is another favourite location to visit during warmer weather months. Taking photographs through heavily soiled glass partitions is often the norm at these types of venues. Placing the camera lens flush against the glass can help limit its impact on images.

Nikon 1 photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 83mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-1800 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-1600 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

During the winter I often visit Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls to photograph the various tropical birds, lizards and other specimens that are on display.

Nikon 1 photography
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 94mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-1100, with extension tubes – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The Niagara Butterfly Conservatory is also a worthwhile place to visit. Since there is no dedicated Nikon 1 macro lens available my favourite set-up for macro-type images is to use the 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-4.5 zoom with extension tubes.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-720, with extension tubes
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 110mm, f/5.6, 1/1000, ISO-720, with extension tubes – Copyright Thomas Stirr

I have used this approach to capture images of bees and flowers in my garden.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 77mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-1600, with extension tubes
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 77mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-1600, with extension tubes – Copyright Thomas Stirr

As well as frogs and other critters in glass display cases. Since my Nikon 1 bodies have small 1” CX sensors I always do my best to capture images as large as possible in the frame so I can reduce or eliminate the need to crop.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 141mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-720
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 141mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-720 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The above image of a great blue heron taking off was captured during a recent holiday in Cuba. The continuous auto-focus of my Nikon 1 V2 works very well when shooting at 15fps with subject tracking. The next image you’ll see (below) is of the same bird, taken from the same AF-C run.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 141mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-720
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 141mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-720 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

This photograph is the fourteenth in a run of over 20 AF-C images.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 87mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 87mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-800 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

This very small lizard was in some foliage on the resort in Cuba. I was able to get my Nikon 1 V2 with the 1 Nikon 30-110mm lens and extension tubes to within about 14 inches of it by stretching my arm out very slowly, shooting one handed, and using the back of my camera to frame the shot.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 30mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 30mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-160 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

While on my most recent holiday to Cuba I had the opportunity to do my first-ever underwater photography using a newly-acquired Nikon 1 J4 with a Nikon 1 WP-N3 underwater housing. I had a lot of fun and certainly appreciate that I still have a lot to learn!

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

While in the Myrtle Beach South Carolina area I had a few different opportunities to capture images of various animals. The photograph of the ruby-crowned kinglet above was captured at Beider Forest near Harleyville South Carolina.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 291mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-800 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-800 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The hawk and owl images were taken at the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw, which is just north of Charleston.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 287mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-560
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 287mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-560 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 258mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-250 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The Low County Zoo at Brookgreen Gardens yielded the images of the tree-climbing grey fox and the Night Heron.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, f/8, 1/30, ISO-2800
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, f/8, 1/30, ISO-2800 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-1250
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 100mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-1250 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The reptile building at Alligator Adventure in Myrtle Beach was the location for the lizard and snake images. I typically shoot my Nikon 1 gear at a maximum aperture of f/5.6…although I will occasionally push that to f/8.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-720
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-720 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 139mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-560
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 139mm, f/5.6, 1/2500, ISO-560 – Copyright Thomas Stirr
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-560
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 229mm, f/5.6, 1/3200, ISO-560 – Copyright Thomas Stirr

The pier and boardwalk area of Murrells Inlet afforded me a number of opportunities to capture images of brown pelicans.

I’ve shot with a number of formats in the past including Nikon DX and FX DSLR gear before I settled in on the Nikon 1 CX system, which I now shoot with exclusively. While the system doesn’t have as wide a selection of lenses as M4/3 does, I find that three specific zoom lenses…the CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, the 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6, and the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 all suit my needs very well. Having a set of MOVO extension tubes further extends the flexibility of my kit.

The Aptina sensors in my Nikon 1 V2’s and J4 are challenged when it comes to dynamic range, colour depth and low light performance and it took some time to formulate my approach to post-processing of RAW files. I’ve been using a combination of DxO OpticsPro 10, CS6 and Nik Suite for a while now and feel very comfortable with my workflow and results.

Article and all images are Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation is allowed without written consent. Mirrorlessons.com is the only approved user of this article. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an illegal and unauthorized use.


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About the author: Heather Broster

Heather Broster was born in Canada, has lived in Japan and Italy but currently calls Wales home. She is a full-time gear tester at MirrorLessons. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Alice,
    Thanks for adding to the discussion – much appreciated! Sometimes ‘Lady Luck’ is a really good companion when photographing wildlife.
    Tom

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Joni,

    Always great to hear from you and to have your ongoing support!

    Tom

  • Joni A Solis

    Wow, one great photo after another! I don’t know if I could pick a favorite. Tom you have so much talent! Thank you for sharing your photos with us all.

  • Thomas Stirr

    Thanks Robert!
    Tom

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/clipping-path.html Alice

    For wild life photography timing is a very important thing that need to be perfect enough for a perfect shot. Patience is required to capture the simple but unusual pose of animal specially for birds. So Nikon can be considered as a good camera to use for wildlife photography!

  • Robert Moore

    A master’s work.

  • Thomas Stirr

    Thanks for the positive comment Tara – much appreciated!
    Tom

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/focused-on-birds Tara

    Beautiful collection of images Thomas! Very nice use of light, good subjects, well-processed and very “relatable” images!

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Christine,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the images – and thank you for your comment! Like you, I love hummingbirds and find it especially rewarding to capture them in flight.
    Tom

  • Christine

    Wonderful pictures by Thomas. I can appreciate the patience it takes to get these wildlife photos. I especially love how he captured the hummingbird in mid flight.

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