Photographing Hummingbirds: Tips and Techniques

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Photographing hummingbirds takes planning, preparation, and camera knowledge. These charming little birds are constantly on the move. In this video, professional wildlife photographers Doug Gardner and Ben Clewis take you into Ben’s backyard for the complete process of photographing hummingbirds. You will learn how to assemble a hummingbird station in your backyard. You will also learn photographic tips and techniques for capturing beautiful images of these tiny colorful birds. Click here for more tips on how to photograph wildlife.

Photographing Hummingbirds Tips and Techniques

The process of photographing hummingbirds begins with a grouping of background flowers and a feeder containing a mixture of sugar and water. Placing a single blue or red tubular flower near the feeder works to attract the birds and get them accustomed to your backyard. When the hummingbird moves into the flower, photo opportunities evolve. Depth of field will be shallow, covering only the flower itself. Focus is critical. Ben’s technique is to focus parallel to the film plane, meaning on the stem of the flower. As the hummingbird flutters over the flower, its head will then be in clear focus.

Lighting is key in photographing hummingbirds and their amazing colors. The basic setup is one camera, one flash. This incorporates ambient light, the flash working as fill light. Ben recommends shooting at f-8 to f-22 for better depth of field. Doug and Ben recommend a telephoto lens and an on-camera strobe for direct lighting. The further away you are from the flower, the less stress for the bird. The camera should be locked down on a tripod, and you need to use a remote shutter release for stability. When photographing hummingbirds, it is important not to stress out the birds. You need to keep your sessions short, perhaps getting six images at a time, moving away from the feeder for a while between sessions. Remember to always keep the bird’s welfare in mind. Join the pros for tips on photographing hummingbirds.

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