Photographing Hummingbirds

A hummingbird flies to a feeder in western Montana.

A hummingbird flies to a feeder in western Montana.

Hummingbirds are very fast and one of the smallest birds in North America. They weigh only a few ounces and are a few inches in length. The birds are only around in the late spring into late summer. There are several varieties of hummingbirds that arrive in the spring and feed on either the nectar from plants or a homemade solution of warm water and sugar (recipes for the solution can be found online for those who have a hummingbird feeder).
The photo here was taken with my Canon Rebel XS, an 18-55mm IS II lens (settings: ISO 400, RAW file, F8, 55mm, 1/125 shutter speed). I had set the camera as follows; center weighted evaluative metering, continuous rather than single image, and cloudy white balance. The feeder is several feet from the front door hanging on the eve of the house. I am fortunate enough to have a large glass window on the top portion of the front door. I was able to stand inside the house and take several photographs through the glass window. This lessened the hummingbird being startled by the noise from the camera and my slight movements when composing the image.
The image you see here is one of 60 that I took over an hour and a half on May 6, 2014. Only half of those 60 images were kept, as the other 30 were out of focus or the hummingbird had landed on the other side of the feeder and was out of my view and not able to be seen in the photograph. I was using the cameras continuous setting to have a high 3 fps (3 frames per second) burst series of images. I have learned from reading other professional photographers writings, that if you use the DSLR cameras fps burst for several series of images you increase the number of focused images in each series. This proved to be true, when the camera focused properly near the feeder, rather than the tree and brush in the background.
The best tips when photographing hummingbirds is have patience, take lots of images in quick continuous mode, and enjoy watching these fast birds. What camera lens would you use to capture hummingbirds? Do you prefer seeing the hummingbird near a feeder or near flowering plants? Have you ever sat and watched hummingbirds chase one another away from the feeder or flowering plants?



About Douglas Wilks Photography

I am an advanced photographer who lives in western Montana. I create a variety of strong images using a DSLR, computer, and digital software. I am available for hire for full time, part time, or projects. Most of my images are of landscapes, still life, and events. I am always looking to improve my skills, network of friends and professionals, and portfolio. I look forward to creating new friends, contacts, and others who are interested in photography.
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