Costa's Hummingbird Photos

Costa's Lunchtime
Saturday, October 8, 2005
Costa's Lunchtime

This is one of the higher speed shots I have taken of the hummers in the Palm Springs area. I usually take a slower shot that shows more motion in the wings, but it is nice to try a variety of things. The shutter speed was actually not that fast, it was helped out buy the fact that I just happened to hit the shutter at the top of his wing sweep.

This guy has some amazing throat feathers that stick out on the sides.

I get a lot of questions about my hummingbird shots...

  • How fast was the shutter speed?
    Actually, relatively slow. 60th to 250th of a second. And, it is not usually the shutter that freezes the motion of their wings. Normally a high speed strobe is used which can go down to as little as a millionth of a second because it does not depend upon the mechanics of moving a shutter.

    Some commercial shots are even staged with a high speed strobe and camera outfitted with an infrared trigger. The trigger fires the shutter (and the camera fires the strobe) when something breaks the beam in front of the camera. Cool use of technology, but if you depend upon the technology completely you will get a very clinical image that does not look at all life-like.

    I don't use a strobe for two reasons. I think the resulting photos look too clinical and just like any other bird and, I don't have one. :-D
  • You must have an impressive lens, what kind is it?
    Most of my hummers are shot with an average Canon 70-200mm zoom lens. I am just very patient when it comes to watching these guys, I have spent over an hour at times to let them get comfortable with me.
  • Did you use a tripod? Did you set up the shot in advance?
    Nope, with very few exceptions these are handheld shots taken while wandering around where the hummers frequent. I like the freedom to move around and get exactly what I want.


Fly-thru
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Fly-thru

There have been some really important people interested in my hummingbirds at the shows lately. :) (see yesterday's post) So I decided to look through some of the images I still have tucked away. This was one of the first ones that jumped out at me.

The one in flight is exactly what I love to capture when I am chasing hummers. His face is sharp and his beak, but you can still see the movement of flight. And, the guy on the feeder looks like he is conducting an orchestra.

Many of the hummingbird shots you see are done with a strobe, a very fast flash. A strobe freezes the action and you do not have to depend upon the speed of the camera's shutter. The best cameras these days reach their limits at around 1/8000th of a second, my AE-1 goes down to 1/1000th. This image was taken between 1/100th and 1/250th of a second. Extremely high speed strobes can go down to a millionth of a second, because they do not depend upon mechanics like shutters.

Unfortunately strobe images come out looking a little clinical for my tastes. But then again, they are all just tools it really depends upon how you use them.


Thoughtful Hummer
Friday, June 3, 2005
Thoughtful Hummer

You don't often find them sitting thoughtfully. Perhaps the 113° F Heat had something to do with it. This guy had just finished a big meal at a huge feeder not far from the Bougainvillea, and this was about as far as he could get after his feast.