Capture Your Moment: Hummingbird Photography

Bruce Taubert will be presenting two learning sessions at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops’ 30th Anniversary Symposium.  Here’s more about his “Hummingbird Photography” session.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird male. Payson, AZ

How do you take a stop action photograph of a 2 inch long, fast flying hummingbird whose wings beat in excess of 60 times each second?  After you figure that out make sure that the background has a pleasing out of focus look and get the hummingbird to feed on a colorful flower.  Well, you cannot just sit next to a beautiful flower in hummingbird habitat and wait for the perfect moment; you need to set up an “outdoor hummingbird photo laboratory”.

The outdoor lab consists of three to five flashes set at a reduced power, an artificial backdrop, a few light stands, one hummingbird feeder, and normal camera gear.  The feeder attracts the hummingbird so that the photographer knows exactly where it is going to eventually fly.  Flashes set with reduced power go off at a faster rate (at 1/16 power the flash duration will be approximately 1/20,000 sec.) and stop the blur of the birds wings.  The artificial backdrop is set about 5 feet in back of the feeder so that the background does not turn our black.  After the hummingbird is accustomed having its portrait taken replace the feeder with a nice flower and when it feeds on the flower take a photo.  Keep the flower “salted” with sugar water to entice a returned visit.

The only issue with taking stop action, high-speed hummingbird images is getting over the very short learning curve.  In other words, just get out there and do it!  You will have the opportunity to at the “Hummingbird Photography” session!

Look for a future post about Bruce’s second learning session, “Macro Photography.”

Bruce Taubert is a photographer for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

For more information and to register for sessions like this visit the AHPW’s 30th Symposium website.