Shooting Humming Birds (with A Camera)

sandee_2007(8)April 13, 2009

I've been shooting these graceful little creatures for the past few years and want to share some of my tips with you for getting good photos of these guys. First and far most, the key to getting good photos of humming birds, as any of you that has photographed them know, is patience. Sometimes you have to wait a while between their visits. But, if you feed them they will come. I've found they are most active in the early morning hours and late afternoon in our area, central Texas, but they do visit our feeders throughout the day. My setup for getting decent shots of hummers consists of a good sturdy tripod, a wide range telephoto lens and a radio controlled remote trigger. With this setup you can setup your equipment close to your most visited feeder, lock you focus and retreat to your patio, deck or porch with a cup of coffee and just wait for them to arrive. If your camera has a burst mode all the better. You can get multiple images as they fly in towards the feeder. (Burst mode:camera will shoot image after image as long as the shutter button is depressed.) One thing I've discovered is that hummers do not like camera flash, at least the ones that visit our feeders don't. You may get one good shot with a flash, but they will bolt and not return for a while. Why would you use a flash? Well, if you use your flash as a fill to add light it will enhance detail in the shadows such as under the wings. I still use flash if I am photographing as the sun is going down and shadows are long across the yard, but find it best to shoot in early morning or late afternoon when there's plenty of direct sunlight. I love photographing hummers and do all summer long until they leave the area for warmer areas in the fall.

Here are a few of my images.

Not sure what type this guy is. First time I've seen one with a purple throat at our feeder. He stayed just out of focus range during his visit. Does anyone know the species?

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mbuckmaster(7B/NC)

Wow! Gorgeous shots, sandee. And thanks for the tips!

The third guy is a male black-chinned hummingbird. Uncommon out here in the east but not so rare in Texas anymore. Very mysterious guy!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 10:15PM
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ctnchpr

"One thing I've discovered is that hummers do not like camera flash, at least the ones that visit our feeders don't. You may get one good shot with a flash, but they will bolt and not return for a while."

Human eyes don't like camera flashes, the eyes (and brains) of unsuspecting, wild creatures probably don't like them either.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 10:49AM
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sandee_2007(8)

Thanks. It's the first Male Black Chin we've seen here. This one seems a lot shyer than the ruby throats that visit regularly. Hope to get better photos of him in the near future. By the way, Sandy, my wife, and I share this account. If you see photos, you can bet that it's me, Jon, posting. Thanks again for the ID on the Hummer.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 7:51PM
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rob_a(9)

Nice shots, John. And thanks for the tips.
I expect you will be seeing more Black Chinned this year. In south Texas we are seeing more Black Chinned than RTs. Last year it was more RTs.
Good luck with your hummers, and post that shot of the male with the purple band on the throat when you get him.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 8:15PM
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