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Nature Thru Photos

More Than                 A Picture    

Photographing Hummingbirds

Ways I have found that work for

Photographing Hummingbirds

Photographing Hummingbirds can be a bit of a challenge especially if you’re wanting to freeze their winds in flight. I have done some testing and found certain things seem to work better than others.

Probably one of the most important things is the setup. If you are like me, you would much rather have your bird image looking in a natural state, not having them sitting on a feeder. I normally put up three feeders in the spring just to attract them in. One important thing to remember is to not use the ready mix sugar water with red dye in it. The red dye is not good for the bird’s health. I use sugar water mixed four cups water to one cup sugar. Using the feeders with a small water bowl on top will keep ants from getting into the bird feeder.

I like to hang two of my feeders so one of the sides, if I may call it, is almost up against a wall or something solid making only three available for the bird to sit on. If you watch Hummingbirds habits they will sit on the perch, take a drink and then fly backwards a few inches and then return to the perch. You should have no problem sitting five to fifteen feet from the feeders depending on the lens you are using and get great images. The important thing is where you sit. You want to be sitting to one side of the feeders almost even with them. It can help to have a little darker background in the direction that you are shooting.

We haven’t talked about the camera setup. I have found that 1/4000 sec works every time to freeze the wings. Going with any higher shutter speed will involve bumping up the ISO and you will start to notice noise in your image. Setting your ISO on auto works fine. I am using a 100 to 400 lens set to 400mm and am shooting off hand. Using back button focus I focus on the bird while they are sitting on the perch.

Now for the fun part you want the image to look more natural. Again it is all in the set up. I buy different types of potted plants that the Hummingbirds would be attracted to. I want colorful plants with smaller trumpet like openings. I put the plants next to each other and hang a Hummingbird feeder close to the plants. Next you need to draw the birds to the flowers. Using a very small spray bottle such as the type used to clean your eye glasses filled with sugar water I spray the plants generously. I also use an eye dropper to put sugar water down into the trumpets on the flowers.

Same setting as mentioned earlier. Used single point focus for all images.

Took 153 shots for this test and only had two bad images!

Getting to know your Hummingbirds up close and personally can make a real difference in getting good photos.

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