All praise to the Hummingbird bif shooters

Started Jan 18, 2014 | Discussions thread
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Digital Nigel
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All praise to the Hummingbird bif shooters
Jan 18, 2014

I rarely shoot birds or wildlife in general, and I'd never previously attempted to photograph hummingbirds, but a couple of weeks ago, at the end of a cruise from Cayenne in French Guiana, we had a few days in Costa Rica. Near Monteverde, there are some feeders set up to attract them from the cloud forest, and I couldn't resist trying my hand. I knew it wasn't going to be easy, but it was much harder than that. I now have a new respect for people who capture pin-sharp hummingbirds in flight in natural surroundings.

The problem is that even if you know they're going to visit the feeder, they rarely hover for more than a second or so, which is too short a time to spot them and focus. They're tiny (between 3" and 6" long), and very fast moving. So I had to pre-focus on a likely spot and hope to fire the shutter at the exact moment one hovered into view. I wanted a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the head, but not the wings. I also needed enough DoF to allow for the fact that there wouldn't be time to re-focus when one appeared.

The resulting images were then heavily cropped. Most of the shots were poor, I did manage to get one or two half decent ones (hopefully I've got the species right, but it was all done using a chart, not from personal knowledge):

Female Purple-throated Mountaingem

Green-crowned Brilliant

Violet Sabrewing

Female Purple-throated Mountaingem

Male Purple-throated Mountaingem

My turn!

Female Magenta-throated Woodstar at the feeder


Who's boss here, then?

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