Green Violet-ear Hummingbird (Costa Rica)
A couple of months ago I posted my series of hummingbird pictures from Costa Rica. It was such a treat to get to see so many different species and even get to capture some great images of these little birds.
OK – here is where it gets interesting and fun! The pictures were seen by an online wildlife and nature photography magazine and they asked if I would write an article on hummingbird photography for the next edition. I was of course delighted and honored. Having read articles by some amazing professional photographers in the magazine, I was particularly honored to be able to contribute something. The article I submitted has just been published in Wild Photo Mag – you can download a copy for free here (or see the notes at the end of this post for different reading formats).
The article covers topics such as:
- Location – which parts of the world have hummingbirds
- Gear – the kinds of camera gear you’ll need
- Size – basically small and smaller
- Behavior – learning their habits helps you to get better pictures
- Color and Iridescence – where does that amazing brightness come from
- Freezing Motion – techniques for freezing those tiny little wings
Hummingbird photography is a whole lot of fun and current camera technology enables you to end up with some spectacular results. The article ends with these 10 tips for photographing hummingbirds.
- Find a location where there are lots of hummingbirds if you want to have a chance of getting great shots.
- My gear suggestions would include a telephoto or zoom lens that is at least: 150mm (micro four thirds body), 200mm (crop sensor) and 300 mm (full frame). I would recommend even longer focal lengths if possible.
- Watch the birds for a while to learn their patterns.
- Pre-focus on a flower or feeder that the hummer is likely to head to. This will enable you to acquire focus on the bird more easily.
- Identify some attractive perches that the hummers frequent. Be prepared to catch a hummingbird there even if it only rests for a few seconds.
- If photographing around feeders, remember that the best shot may be when the hummingbird backs up a few inches and hovers. Alternatively, camouflage a feeder with plants or flowers if you can.
- A wider aperture enables you to blur the background, but be careful that you don’t get the DOF too narrow.
- A fast shutter speed will allow you to freeze the wings on a flying bird. Try 1/1000 to 1/1500. Use flash (try setting it to only 1/16 power or less) as an alternate way to freeze the wings.
- Don’t expect a high keeper ratio. As with all photography, practice helps.
- Remember to have fun doing this. These amazing little creatures can put on an amazing aerobatics show. Sometimes you just need to take the camera away from your eye and just watch.
I had a blast writing the article, but then I have such fun watching and photographing these amazing little birds, so writing about it could only be fun. The article can be found here: http://www.wildphotomag.co.za/hummingbird-photography-tips-by-colin-michaelis.html.