The Great Journey in Photography

About-Anna’s Hummingbird-2

Female West Coast Anna's

500mm f6.3 320iso 1/250sec

A few more thoughts about the Anna’s and photographing them. The Anna’s Hummingbird is a medium sized hummingbird with the female being the larger of the two, that means the more colorful male is a really small subject. The Anna’s all have a small patch of white behind the eyes and you can expect in an otherwise well exposed picture to see those patches blown out (overexposed). You will probably will want to treat it just like a Ska band playing at your favorite pub, ignore it! It is a small part of the overall image so don’t worry about it and if you are one of those folks who it bothers, just clone in some grey from another area. Hummingbirds are the only bird that can move backward and that is part of the reason why it is almost impossible to photograph a bird leaving the feeder. Always try to get your shot as the subject approaches the feeder, they are slow a cautious then, when leaving they take off like a bullet. When I first started photographing these birds I noticed some of them doing a “Dive-bomb” maneuver making a clicking noise at the apex very close to me, time after time I saw it and I though the bird was angry with me, maybe too close to the nest. I later learned that it is really a mating ritual and has nothing to do with human contact. I am also led to believe it is a fairly rare occurence. I guess if you see it happen, don’t worry and feel lucky to observe it.

Do a quick search and you will soon see that no one really knows how fast hummingbirds beat their wings. Somewhere between 12-80 beats per second. That is actually a large range but suffice to say that it is really fast. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that setting a shutter speed to 1/80 sec will freeze the wings. Remember that is how long it takes to make a complete arc twice. The wings are moving much, much faster then that. So fast that you should plan on seeing motion blur in the photo unless you are deploying multiple flashes. And speaking of flash, the Anna’s is the only bird I have seen react to a flash. You can take that with a grain of salt because there are other factors the bird could be reacting to like a finger movement, but I have seen this bird flinch on several occasions. Be sure you are using a low power setting.

While birds in flight are the grand prize in Hummingbird photography be sure to give yourself the opportunity to photograph the birds at rest also. You will you have more keepers and that helps making you motivated for the next session. I know that “feeder” images are a no-no in bird photography but I think Hummingbirds are the exception. Even if you are shooting strictly to sell there is a market for good feeder photos. I see them quite often in magazines and other print. Load your feeder with one-quarter cup sugar per cup of water boiled and cooled.

Thanks for reading and as always have a great weekend.

See more of my photos here.


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