spreys are powerful birds of prey known for their fishing abilities. Diving down from up to 100 feet in the air, they expertly use their claws to pluck their meals from water. Their athletic abilities make them popular with wildlife photographers, but one, in particular, is using a Victoria technique to demonstrate their power.
Photographer Chen Chengguang (aka Joinus12345) is known for his stunning bird photography, which he shares with his followers on Instagram. Particularly striking are his chronophotographs that show an osprey in full hunting mode. Made popular in the mid-19th century, chronophotography is a technique in which movement is captured in several frames and then either laid side by side or placed in one frame to demonstrate motion. It’s the predecessor to animation and cinematography and was originally used by scientists to study objects in motion.
By returning to the ancient technique, Chen allows viewers to take in every detail of the hunting osprey. In anywhere from three to five movements, we can see the osprey—eyes fixed in concentration—as it dives straight into the water. Claws outstretched and wings pulled back at the last moment, it’s ready to snatch its next meal with precision and expertise.
Each movement of the osprey is captured in crisp detail, a testament to the photographer’s technical abilities. As such, it’s a delight to examine the large bird’s anatomy, which has been adapted to make it a skilled hunter. Not only do ospreys have slightly oily feathers to help repel water, but their light-colored underbelly also makes them less noticeable to their prey as they fly overhead. They even have nostrils that close so that water will stay out as they dive.
But, of course, the most noticeable thing about ospreys are their large feet and razor-sharp talons. Unusually, they have small spikes called spicules on the underside of their toes, as well as a reversible outer toe. Both of these characteristics help them grip slippery fish—ensuring that their main food source rarely gets away.
Ospreys are powerful birds of prey known for their fishing abilities.
Wildlife photographer Chen Chengguang uses a Victorian technique called chronophotography to show the bird’s every movement.
Ospreys have incredible vision and extra spikes on their toes to make sure a meal never gets away.