Summer of the Hummer
Many of you may already know that I love to take photographs of birds, while they are very difficult to capture the essence of each species they are a very important aspect of my photography and one of the main reasons I like outdoor photography. Due to the habits of the birds and the fact they really don't like being close by you the human, coupled with the problem of lighting, branches and their diminutive size it makes for a most challenging subject to photograph. Even to get one good picture from the many images I take makes each and every trip well worth the effort.
The hummingbirds hold some very special problems photographers; first they are very small secondly they are fast and third in my area where I live I only see them about two months out of the year. So I have a very limited amount of time to photograph them.
My technique: although I don't have natural flowers in my backyard to lure the hummingbirds but I still wish to get the small birds in my yard so I can photograph them. Needless to say hummingbirds require nectar and when it's available they usually come around checking out your feeders. So with my feeder in place I have one of two setups.
- My first set up simply hand hold my camera and lens and wait for the Hummers to show up at the feeder, depending on the light availability you may be able to get a few pictures that are usable this way. In lowlight conditions I use a flash to fill-in shadow areas, this helps also reduce some of the motion of the hummingbird. This year I tried using TTL mode but using the TTL mode the flash would do a pre-fire and this would set the Hummer off and running so by the time the main flash fired I just got the back side of the Hummer flying away, so that wasn't working. My next method was setting the flash to manual, which is fine but waiting for hours for the hummingbird to show up at your feeder I found myself needing to constantly adjust my camera settings is alight continued to fade; but this worked pretty well. I placed the flash outdoors close to the feeder and put it in remote mode this allowed me to stand back in with my camera and commander mode I can fire the flash wirelessly, this was a good set up. Maybe next year I'll try some high-speed flash techniques to freeze motion.
My hummingbirds: The hummingbirds who visit my feeder are of two species commonly referred to as Rufus and the Ruby Throated. The roof is a slightly larger and about 2 inches and is also I believe the fastest and more dominant while the Ruby Throated is slightly smaller and is slower moving if you can say that Ray hummingbird. And as many of you know once a Hummer shows up at your feeder they will defend it and run off all other hummingbirds try to feed at it. So this makes for some very interesting views as they dart across the yard chasing each other. I think they spend more time running off each other from the feeder than they do actually feeding.
The best time to do the photographs is normally in the morning time and then again in the afternoon, and because I do work I'm normally left for the afternoons which doesn't give me much time in light. One thing I noticed about hummingbirds are there pretty fearless and after they get used to you being there the you can get really close to them, in fact I was able to touch one and he stayed right there feeding. And that's while of the hummingbird.
I hope you enjoy this year's pictures!