Lift Off


Rebound, originally uploaded by Kirk Howard.

On the Strobist blog I read an article last week about how a reader uses several off camera speed lights to photograph the high speed movement of hummingbirds. In this process of using the off camera lighting he freezes the motion to almost eliminate the blur.

Now consider this a hummingbird will beat his wings from 15 to 200 per second. So you need a high shutter spend and High-speed sync with a strobe to stop the action.

Read more about it here at Strobist Blog., also link over to Pat Hunts Flickr Page and check out more of his work.

The post I read at Strobist blog and Pat’s work is what inspired my photo above of the Rufous Hummingbird, pulling up his landing gear just after take-off. Notice the ripples in the water from the downward air pressure of the wings beating.

I took this at the Coyote Hills Regional Park Nectar Garden. It was the only place I could think of that had a regular visitation of hummingbirds. I went back two days in a row to get this image. As Ms. Brezden used to say “Patience is a virtue in which great things happen”. I know she is didn’t coin it, but man she used to tell me that everyday.

My image was taken with ambient light. I pumped up my ISO to 800 used my 300mm prime lens set wide open at f/4 and shutter speed at 1/2500 of a second. I set my camera on my tripod, and just waited for my quarry to come to me.

In the garden they have three water fountains, bird baths that the hummingbirds like to drink at. The walkway converges right in the middle of these fountains. All I had to do is wait. It wasn’t long and I could hear the familiar, but distinctive click or chirp that they make. I would hear them buzz around behind me. As they would get close to the birdbath I would slowly put my eye to the view finder and slightly adjust the camera to where they might be next.

Hummingbirds can be very skittish. Plus they have a great need not to stay in one place for more then they have too.

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