Photographing Hummingbirds

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The photograph here was taken using a Canon Rebel XS, 70-200 IS L F4 lens; ISO 200, F4, 1/90, and cloudy as the white balance.  I was holding the camera still and sitting inside the house.  The hummingbird feeder is hanging from a metal hook that is on an L metal just outside the living room window.  It was taken in the evening, at 5:47 p.m. (Mountain Daylight Time).

One of the keys to getting photographs like the two in this blog entry is being ready with your equipment; have the settings on your camera and lens set in advance, a fully charged battery, and plenty of room on your memory card (preferably a fast memory card).  Another thing to be aware of is the time that hummingbirds are most actively feeding, which is in the morning after sunrise and in the evening just before sunset.

I had been watching the feeder for several days and the hummingbirds were becoming more feisty.  From observing their behaviors in the evening at the feeder, I knew exactly the photographs I wanted to capture.  The trick was being patient and waiting for the hummingbirds to be there at the right time and right place. The next challenge was being fast enough with my camera to get the two photographs you see here.

I could have set up the tripod, camera, and lens with a cable release and had everything focused on one area. Though, to be honest that is not as challenging as trying to hand hold the camera and test my reflexes and timing.  In some ways capturing hummingbirds is similar to photographing fireworks and lightning.  You know about where the action will take place and you know what will happen; it is the movement of the action that is unpredictable and exciting.

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This image of the hummingbird with the open beak behind the one at the feeder took a good deal of planning, skill, being patient, and some luck.  The evening the photographs here were taken these two hummingbirds had been flying around the feeder several times, chasing each other on one side or the other.  At times they would rapidly fly down below the window and then out of my eyesight.  Many other times they would fly up the side of the feeder and then higher and off to a large tree that is roughly 30-40 feet from where the feeder is located outside the living room window.  I spent anywhere from 30-40 minutes of time waiting, watching, and photographing the birds until I finally captured the two photographs in this blog entry.  It was well worth it, as the images here show.

Where is your hummingbird feeder placed?  Have you thought of moving the feeder next to a window?  How often do you photograph hummingbirds?  Do you know the proper ratio of sugar to water to create your own hummingbird nectar for the feeder?

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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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