Nikon D750, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM, tripod, gimbal head, SB 800 speed light

@500 mm, 1/40 s, f/8, ISO 500

We never had so many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds visit the yard like this year. Especially now, with the juveniles buzzing around, it is very busy at the hummingbird feeders that hang from our porch. Every second day we mix a 1.75 liter bottle of sugar water to keep up with the high demand. We never ever have even been close to this amount. 

After a number of hot and humid days we finally got some much needed rain yesterday and today and the temperatures dropped quite a bit. This is probably another reason that we saw the hummers even more frequently today. With nothing but gray clouds in the sky I decided to stay home after work and aim for some new photos of the smallest bird we have here during the summer.

Nikon D750, Sigma 50-500mm / f4.5-6.3 APO DG HSM, tripod, gimbal head, SB 800 speed light

@420 mm, 1/80 s, f/8 ISO 500

I was asked today if I shoot my hummingbird pictures with a high speed setup. The answer is no, I don’t. Remember, my goal is story telling and that means in most cases I like to show a hint of the environment, even if it is just blurred because of a shallow depth of field, like with these two images from today. The light and the green and yellow color in the background suggest a lush environment, typical for a day in August, and typical for just how it is around here at the moment. On a rainy day there isn’t much light available and using the flash is essential to bring out some colors of the birds. No matter how hard I would try with a high shutter speed of, lets say 1/500 s or even faster, the background would always be pitch-black. And with that there is no story telling…

Another part of the story telling in both photos is the dynamic of the wing beats. You see the wings multiple times and this is how you see the birds when they buzz around. They don’t look frozen. However, there has to be one thing that needs to be sharp to make the image work, and that is the eye of the critter. If the eye is blurry, and believe me that happens more than I like, the image ends up in the trash can of the computer…