Hello Hummingbirds







One of the biggest surprises in SoCal living has been my hummingbird feeder. It was a spur-of-the-moment purchase, now suctioned to a window from our family room. The birds hit my feeder dozens of times a day, year round.

Photographing hummingbirds is tough. Their wings flap rapidly. Very high shutter speeds must be used.

High shutter speed means less light gets in the lens. Even in bright daylight my camera, a Canon 7D, is being pushed near its limit.

Everything happens quickly. No time for autofocus. My lens is open to f/8 and pre-focused where the birds are most likely to light.

Sometimes that works. Most times it doesn’t. Over 300 photos for the six you see here!

Magic Lantern software loaded into my camera controls when the photo is shot. It looks for changes in the frame, then shoots three times.

There are lots of out-of-focus snaps and plenty where the bird is partially out-of-frame. Sometimes a puff of wind will rock the feeder and… click, click, click. It’s expected most shots will be deleted.

This is a technique thing. If you know how to do it and spend enough time, you’ll get the shot. Otherwise, shooting hummingbirds is nearly impossible.

6 thoughts on “Hello Hummingbirds”

  1. Geoff when I just read this about hummingbirds, I instantly thought about an email I received from a friend a few days ago who lives in San Diego Co. I have omitted her name and email address, but I included the contents of her email.

    “Hummingbird Backyard Observers”. Audubon is trying to track the hummingbirds:when they return to Continental US,- where and what they are feeding on. A situation has been developing where the return of the birds & the blossoming of their favorite food flowers are OUT of sync, w/the flowers blooming much sooner than the birds arriving, so their food sources are not available as they always have been.This could be due to ‘Global Warming’–it’s causing authorities great concern! I have a feeder on my patio, (4/5yrs.) so they want reports from ‘backyard bird-watchers’ & those of us with ‘feeders’ to register when the ‘hummers’, start showing up, what ‘kind'(identify) & on what & how they are feeding. Our world is going ‘out of sync’!!!


  2. Carole, thanks for posting the info about the hummingbird project. I will post it to my usenet newsgroup. It’s not a bird group but we have a sub-group of people that we call “HEWS”, or Hummingbird Early Warning System. We are all along the east coast from FL to PEI and we post when we see the first hummingbird so the next northern person(s) can start putting food out.

    Nice pics Geoff… wish we had the variety of hummingbirds you do on the left coast but our singular ruby throated variety is still fascinating all by themselves.

    1. Thank you Mary. Hummingbirds need all the help they can get. The Audubon Society is an excellent organization. I wasn’t even aware that there are still usenet newsgroup in existance.

  3. OOHHH! Geoff, the hummingbird photos are soooo awesome. Now I can see that they in fact do have little feet. Very pretty birds.
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. I’ve lived in various spots along the Mid and south Atlantic coast, and following the Hummingbirds was always exciting and when they returned a sure sign the long warm season was back. Here in the Tri-State area (NY/NJ/CT) they normally seem to return in May. From what I’ve read , Hummingbirds are restricted to the Americas , and only breed in tropical or sub tropical areas . I think in the USA only Florida has Hummingbirds in winter., in fact I think some species even breed in Florida, but not sure though.

    A fun hobby for sure.

  5. When I was living in So CA, I remember watching the hummingbirds, but I don’t recall the time of year they were there, even though I resided in CA for 50 yrs.

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