Hummingbird Photography

   This morning as I was on the way back into the house from getting the mail, I paused to notice the newly-opened blooms on the hosta plants infront of the house. The sun was on left side of the house, but on the porch it was blocked by the height of the house. As I watched, a single ruby-throated hummingbird flew to the flowers. But before it could began to drink from the flowers, a second hummingbird flew up and chased it away. I recognized instantly that what I had here was prime hummingbird photography conditions. The sun was at the right angle, lighting was perfect due to some cloud cover, and the flowers had a perfect background, namely more flowers and a bush thickly covered in dark green leaves. When zoomed and focused on one particular flower, the rest would blur creating a picture-perfect (which is exactly what it became.) background.

   I briskly strode inside and grabbed the camera and tripod and returned to the porch. Only one problem remained. I don't have a fancy camera with unbelievably huge zoom, and hummingbirds are very small, at around only 3.5 inches in length. That's in length. That's right. From the crown to the tip of the tail, only 3.5 inches. With only 30x zoom, you have to get pretty close to make the hummingbird fill most of the frame. Luckily, they were close to the porch, and I the shrubs on the opposite side of the porch were on my side. I sat the tripod on the porch, picked a flower, set the zoom and focus on that flower, and then I myself hunkered down in a corner where I was partially hid by the bush.

   Now all I had to do was wait. And that is exactly what I did. I waited, and waited, and waited. And still I waited. Finally, as I was about to give up hope, I heard the familiar hum of hummingbird wings. I quickly looked up... and my rapid motion spooked it away. Great. Well, now that it already knew I was there, I could move to a better photographical vantage point, right? I didn't know, and told myself I probably didn't want to know, either. I then re-focused on my selected flower, and hoped that it was the flower the hummingbird would choose to visit. If it wasn't... well, I was simply out of luck if it wasn't. There was no possible way I could move the camera, zoom, and focus on it without spooking it away again. Theoretically speaking, even if I could do all that without scaring it, I would still be extremely lucky if it stuck around long enough for me to get a shot.

   I settled down once more, prepared to wait just as long as I had before for it to make an appearance. However, in just a wee bit less time than it took it to come before, sure enough, it came back. And to my flower. I was only able to get one shot before it flew off, but I moved the camera to get my next shot from a different angle and closer zoom. In a little while, it was back again... to my flower! I was quite shocked that out of all of those flowers, it chose to visit the one that I had picked and set the zoom and focus on. The third time it came back, my shot was blurry and it wasn't centered, so I ended up deleting it. The neat thing was that after it left the flowers, it flew right up to me... right up to me... somtimes less than two feet away, and it examined me from all angles. Eye level, above eye level, from the front, side, and back. This entire incident only lasted a few seconds before it flew away, but it was neat.

   Now let me sum all of this up to say I spent about 45 minutes, about 4 of which included the hummingbird, and managed to take two good photos. That may sound slightly absurd, I agree. But firstly, I am prone to do slightly absurd things when it comes to birds. I once walked back a trail in the woods at 10:00 at night in the middle of January in a light freezing rain to set up a bird blind so I could be in it early the next moorning. True, it was collapsed under 5 1/2 inches of snow when I got back to it the next morning, but I managed to squeeze in anyways. I got a neat white-throated sparrow picture, too. Second, it was well worth all of the time. Just sitting, watching... I smiled as I watched a mourning dove gathering nesting materials (though it seems a bit late for nesting), a female cardinal in the decorative tricolor beech tree, and in great anger, I watched a flock of 20+ European starlings, all coombing the front yard for a meal. Plus the few minutes where I actually was seeing the hummingbird were great. My two photos that I took are posted below. Enjoy!


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hummer fotos

Perfect photos! I like the blurred backgrounds and wings. Great pics like these require much patience. Thanks for sharing.

Re: hummer fotos

Thanks, mammy-o! It took alot of patience... about all I had. I only saw the hummingbird 3 short times in the 45 minutes that I was waiting.

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