A few months ago I had the opportunity to travel to California mainly with the intention of visiting the Indian Wells Tennis tournament, hopefully managing to see Novak Djovakic play in a live match. Unfortunately, that did not end up happening, but while I stayed at our hotel in Palm Springs, I did take the most of my opportunity to take as many pictures as I can.
I was delighted to get the chance to catch some Hummingbirds in my photos. It’s very hard to find any of these lovely creatures here in Calgary, Canada, so seeing them in such quantities was quite a surprise and a tempting challenge that any photographer would love to shoot.
Obviously, they barely hold still. These birds flap their wings between 15-200 times per second. A lot of amateur photographers try following them around hoping that they can get a good picture that way.
Catching a picture of a hummingbird is like fishing in a lake, you have to let the fish come to you. You need to pick a spot and stay there.
Where I stayed, they would congregate in the early morning at the outside pool of the resort where they would bathe. This was my perfect opportunity to get some excellent pictures.
For the first couple of days, I studied at what time that they would get up in the morning, and I would wake up a little bit earlier to set up. I would set up my camera on a tripod and use a remote to control when my camera would take pictures, that way I didn’t need to be close to the birds themselves and potentially scare them away.
My go to is a telephoto lens (300mm); the challenge is that you want to fill a significant part of the frame, and you also want the image to be sharp. Often, amateur photographers capture only blurry images of their wings as the birds are whizzing by.
For this, using a very high shutter speed, around 1/2000 per second, is essential. I would also use a wider aperture (f2.8 in my case) for as long as I could to keep the entire bird in focus.
You also want to choose a background that doesn’t have any distractions, usually with some green or blue background being one of the best choices.
In the end, I was able to get a few nice shots in and would love to return and get another chance to photo these elusive creatures.
Until next time,