Monday, October 17, 2011

Catching Hummingbirds......or not.

click on image to enlarge

      "How do you shoot hummingbirds?" That's the question I get all the time. Apparently, lots of folks have a very difficult time trying to capture hummingbirds in flight. So I thought I would take a few minutes to share some of my strategies for making hummingbirds freeze in the air.
      Let me just try to explain the photo above. To begin with, hummingbirds are not attracted to lilies, but they are attracted to the feeder that is hanging above the lilies, but out of the frame. Secondly, auto-focus does not work well when it comes to tracking hummingbirds. They are just too fast for most auto-focus systems. The solution is to carefully place your feeder and your flower so that you can prefocus on the stamen of the flower. By setting your shutter speed to 1/2000 th of a sec. and raising your cameras' ISO to accommodate that shutter speed, your ready to begin.
    Most modern DSLR's provide a burst shooting rate of at least 5 frames per second. Set the camera up to utilize this fast shooting rate and practice firing a few quick bursts. Check the focus and the depth of field you're achieving. I generally like to shoot at f.8, which gives me enough depth of field to capture the action. Using a 300 mm. lens, I can almost always get the kind of shot I am after. Occasionally, I find I need a bit longer lens, which may cause me to pull out a 400mm. Your lens choice is an important factor in the results you are going to achieve. Don't waste your money on cheap glass. The real quality of a photo comes from the lenses, not the camera.
     Good luck with your shots. Let me know how it works for you.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dan,

    I came across the link to your blog on DPR. You do great work. :-) It's interesting that, in my 8th year of photographing hummingbirds, I am concentrating on environment and light. The entries in your blog confirm for me that I am moving in the right direction. Too bad about your eye, but it seems you get along fine without it. ;-) I wish you the best in your photographic endeavors. I also invite you to see what I'm up to (photographically, that is) at . It is a blog dedicated to my hummingbirds and I think you may find it interesting.


    Ian Grey