This is a composite – what I call a Panoranimal. However, unlike most of my digitally stitched works that are sequential frames of action, this composite was made from three separate dives. Same bird. Same location. Different dives.
We’re lucky in that we have kingfishers that fish on our pond. So, four summers ago I placed two tall dead branches over a narrow, shallow channel. The location was the perfect distance from my shooting blind for me to capture full frame images of the birds when they perched.
Coincidentally it turned out to be a good fishing spot and I witnessed lots of activity. At first I was happy just to get shots of them sitting on the branches eyeballing their prey below or preening after they returned from a dive. I also got nice shots of them with their catch, repeatedly slapping them against the wood to finish the kill (or soften the bones?). Even got a picture of one flipping it into his mouth with the fish suspended mid air directly above his throat.
But the kings were always too fast for me to capture a complete series of them diving. Consider what is involved: I had to anticipate their start, then follow them darting straight down twelve feet in a second, hitting a different target location every time, while keeping them in focus and in frame – a frame BTW that was barely big enough to accommodate them with their wings fully extended.
I made numerous attempts every summer. I slowly got better. The cameras eventually got faster. Until one weekend while a persistent kingfisher was making repeated unsuccessful dives I captured enough sequences to complete the shot.