Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hummingbird Hints

      I've had lots of folks asking me about my Hummingbird photos, and I thought I would just take a moment to share some ideas with everyone.  These are difficult subjects to capture, and I have a few little tricks that might help.
      First and foremost is to encourage everyone to put out some hummingbird feeders. Simple sugar water will do the trick nicely, but think carefully about where you place them. You want them some place with a clear view, and you want to place them near other plants. I use "attractor plants" to help me lure them into the garden. By planting bright red flowering plants in pots, you can easily move them around your garden into areas with pleasing photographic backgrounds. While these plants may not be a favorite food source for your hummingbirds, they will still act as an attractor to bring the birds into the garden, where they will quickly locate your feeders. Once you get the birds coming to the feeders, you can reposition the potted plants to areas that share the "flying space" with your hummers. Suddenly you'll discover the wonderful images you can capture, where hummers and flowers appear within the same frame.
      When shooting hummingbirds, you'll need to crank up the ISO on your camera. I suggest at least 800iso, and I often shoot in the 1600iso range. This is important, as you need to set a shutter speed of at least 1000th of a sec, and preferably even higher. Most of my hummingbird images are shot at between 1500th to 1/2500th of a sec. This will stop the action in mid-air, and produce the pleasing level of detail you need. As for focus, most of today's cameras offer excellent continuous focus mode shooting. I recommend setting the focus to your cameras tracking mode, and let the camera do its' thing. In most cases, you'll be rewarded with a high percentage of well focused images.
      I hope this helps some of you take better hummingbird shots. Nothing replaces hard work and lots of practice, so get out there and make some pictures. Good Luck.