My hummingbirds are back.
Little wonders of nature. Tiny birds with emerald green wings that can flap at a rate of 80 beats per second. The only birds able to fly like a helicopter – up, down, forward, and backward.
Did you know that hummingbirds remember every flower and feeder that they visit, plus they know exactly how long it will take a flower’s nectar to refill?
They are amazing little creatures, and I just can’t get enough of them.
Hummingbirds = Magic.
If you were to come to my neighborhood on any given day, you’d likely find me leaning up against the fence with my wide brimmed hat, standing with my camera and zoom lens pointed at my hummingbird feeder.
Photographing hummingbirds is my favorite spectator sport!
Especially lately with the rival males duking it out and defending their “territory” (aka my feeder).
When it comes to photographing hummingbirds, my approach is similar to that of photographing butterflies. The main difference between butterflies and hummingbirds though, is that hummingbirds are much more skittish. But I think because I’m over by that side of the yard a lot watering and weeding my garden, the hummingbirds are somewhat used to me. Even so, whenever I bring my camera out, I stand as close as I can without scaring them away. Plus, I try to stand as still as possible.
This is where it helps to have a good zoom lens. Right now I’m using a 70-200mm, f/4.0 zoom lens I got for Christmas (thanks Santa!). And since these bigger zoom lenses can get kind of heavy after a while, I also recommend using a monopod. (For hummers, I prefer the maneuverability of a monopod over a tripod.) As far as camera settings go, I shoot in manual mode using back-button focus and select the the continuous shutter mode on my camera. Next, because hummingbirds move so fast, I usually set my ISO to 800-1600 to get a faster shutter speed. And finally, I select the maximum aperture for this lens – f/4.0.
Like I do with butterflies, I usually stay focused (more or less) on a stationary object such as a flower or one of the perches on my feeder. Then, when a hummingbird comes into view, I will hold down my shutter button in bursts while the hummer is perched or hovering over a flower.
Another difference between butterflies and hummingbirds is that butterflies will often linger for a while over a patch of flowers whereas hummingbirds tend to feed in brief spurts then return to their nest (I think mine are nesting in my neighbor’s tree). But if you spend some time watching your feeder, you’ll start to notice a pattern in their feeding habits.
Let’s just say I’ve logged a lot of hours at my kitchen sink staring at the feeder outside my kitchen window. <<insert big cheesy grin here>>
It’s fun to capture hummingbirds with my camera, but mostly I just love having them in my yard. I love watching them flit and zoom around the feeder. I love the sound of their squeaky chattering.
Hummingbirds are one of my very favorite things about this part of summer. Thank you for letting me share these magical little creatures with you.
Tchrina Munlin says
Thank you for this article. I would love to be able to photograph a hummingbird or butterfly but had no idea how idea how to begin. You have at least let me know where to start. I love your work! Thank you.