I have shot endless hummingbird photos in the backyard at home. There was one shot that eluded me for a while. At a certain time of day, if a hummingbird is at the feeder, its shadow will fall on the post on the corner of our deck. I have seen it a few times when I didn’t have a camera handy and have had a camera when none came or the light moved around too quickly. However, I did finally get the combination I was after. I like the hint of the hummingbird without the actual bird in shot that it delivers.
We have plenty of hummingbirds visiting our back yard. They may look different depending on the angle the light hits their feathers but up until recently I had thought that they were all the same species – the Anna’s hummingbird. Then we got a visitor that seemed different. First, instead of having a grey look to the feathers, it was a lot more brown. The other difference was the sound of the wingbeats. Instead of the whirring noise we were used to, this one had a higher pitched sound almost like a click as the wings were hitting each other. It sounded quite distinctive. I trip to my big book of birds suggests that these may be Rufous hummingbirds. For the birders amongst you, I hope you will advise if I am mistaken.
We have been having some issues with our hummingbirds. One of them has decided the feeder is his and no other birds can use it. He sits around and feeds to his heart’s content. Even when he is in a local tree, anyone coming close gets chased off quickly. We have named him “Cartman”. One of the recommendations in such a situation is to have a second feeder so we have added one to the fence nearby. One of the benefits I have found with this is that it puts the birds at a different angle between me and the light and it brings out the colors more vibrantly. Here you can see Cartman – he is still trying to dominate the place.
Having had some success with the GoPro as discussed in a previous post, I decided to play with the slow motion capabilities of the camera to get some different shots. The nice thing with a GoPro is that you can put it almost anywhere to get different angles. While playing with this, some hummers came in to feed and, since I had my phone with me, I shot some video with that too. They really didn’t seem too bothered by my presence. Here is some more video results.
Sometimes you just forget what you have tucked in the garage. I have been trying to get shots of the hummingbirds in our back yard and more recently shot a little video with the DSLR. Then it occurred to me that they might be wary of people but not of inanimate objects. Why not stick a camera on a post right next to the feeder.
While it hasn’t had much use recently, I have a GoPro (or two). I have an adaptor that would sit on top of a lighting stand which is plenty tall enough to get up to the height of the feeder. Moreover, I can control it all remotely using a phone/tablet including a live video feed. I sat indoors with the iPad on watching for movement on screen while doing other things. As soon as one appeared, a press of the button and they were being recorded. The initial attempts failed until I remembered to switch off the beeps and the LEDs that flash during recording. After that it was easy. The results were rather pleasing.
My obsession/interest in photographing the hummingbirds in our back garden has continued. I mentioned my poor early attempts in this post but things have gradually been improving. I have decided to compromise on quality a bit by shooting from indoors. The birds are clearly not enthusiastic about me being there with the camera so I decided that shooting through the window was an alternative. Obviously double glazed windows are not optically ideal but they are surprisingly good it seems. This has allowed me to get a number of shots I am a lot happier with.
One thing that I have seen much more of when shooting from this location is the way in which the color of the feathers varies so dramatically depending on the angle to the light. The birds normally look very gray. The backs can start to be green when the light strikes at the right angle but the most dramatic changes are for the head and throat. Here a gray feather can suddenly transition to a pink of bright red. It only takes a very small change in angle for this to become apparent.
We put up a hummingbird feeder on our deck this year. We also had some hanging baskets and were hoping that they would be attracted. Initially, the plants were their focus but they soon decided that they liked the feeder too. We could be sitting out there happily chatting away as the birds came and went. However, if I brought the camera out, they suddenly become awfully shy. Photos of a bit of a head or a wing behind the feeder were the norm. The shutter sound also seems to have a negative effect. However, I have got a couple of close attempts. One day I shall devote some time to trying to get decent shots but I was more intent on enjoying the summer days than photographing the birds.