The Gardens Are Once Again.......Buzzing with Hummers
Every Spring, sometime during the first week of April, my resident hummingbirds return to my gardens. This year they made their first appearance on the 7th of April, and now three weeks later, the gardens are buzzing with activity. As a pro bird photographer, this time of year marks the beginning of a busy season to come. As the flowers in the gardens mature and begin flowering, the hummers numbers continue to increase, and my job truly takes on a new excitement.
Needless to say, hummingbirds present a challenge. Not only are they tiny, but they move like little rockets being launched into space. The are extremely territorial, which simply means they don't play well together. Those with hummingbird feeders will certainly understand what I mean. Sharing space with others is not something they are likely to do. Instead, generally one dominate bird will lay claim to all of the feeders and attack any other bird wishing to feed. Nobody actually gets harmed, but the fighting can be intense. This makes photographing the species very difficult, and it brings a real challenge to my work as a photographer.
Fortunately, with the onset of digital cameras, this task has been made somewhat easier. Todays' new high end digital bodies permit the use of very high iso settings, which in turn allow the photographer to use extremely high shutter speeds. This combination of higher iso's and lightning fast shutter speeds is now making it possible to capture images that were not possible just a few years ago. I routinely set my Canon 5D mkII to iso 1600, and my shutter speed to a minimum of 1500th to even a 4000th of a sec.. Using AServo focus on my Canon makes it easier to track these speed demons as they shoot past my lens. While not all of today's new cameras offer this kind of speed, many new SLR bodies routinely include all of the features needed.
One last thing. It's easy to get lost in the moment and forget about the importance of composition, when shooting hummingbirds. Their speed sometimes overwhelms us, and we just want to capture a clear image. The real challenge, of course, is capturing an image that also tells a story. Even photos of hummingbirds should give the viewer a sense of place and time. The photo should share with the viewer something about the species and his behavior within his environment. Digital photography has increased our chances for success, but it's still in the hands of the photographer to create a meaningful photograph. Challenge yourself. Make the effort to excel, and good luck.