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Thread: Capturing Hummers

  1. #1
    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    Capturing Hummers



    Starteda new thread on this subject because I have recently discovered that shooting humming birds has its own unique set of challenges. There has been some good advice from some of the more avid bird shooters, but for the life of me I couldn't find it.


    Here are some shots I took this weekend and will discuss at the bottom:


    1





    2.











    3





    4.





    5.








    The environment: Bright daylight, early morning, sun only about 20 degrees high and rightoff of my angle of view


    The general settings for these were: 7d, 100-400 L @ 400, onboard flash and 580 exII off camera flash. All set to manual, including manual focus. Tripod. Flashes were set to 1/32 or 1/64---still not fast enough as you can see ghosting. Shutter @ 250, ISO 1600 and aperture at either F22 or F32 (This got me a whopping 1/2 inch dof on my @400mm---not much working room.)


    The challenges:


    1. I wanted to light the colors of the bird----Off camera flash works much better at this than does on camera or onboard flash.


    2. I also wanted wings with detail, but not frozen


    3. I am still having problems with ghosting since I only have one flash---I think I ll try setting the flash at 1/128 next time and just deal with the black background.


    4. I used the small apertures to try and increase the DOF---This helps, but not enough in manual focus mode. I 'll try auto focus this PM. The images just aren't sharp enough.


    5. I used High ISO to get the rest to work.


    Problems with the photo's---Soft and ghosting still a problem. I'll keep working until I find a good combo. Also, on #3, I did a terrible job at trying to clone out the ghosting---I plan to re-work that one.


    So,all please feel free to comment and add suggestions----I think I am on the right track, I just need to fine tune the process. What do you think---Honestly?





    Bob








    Bob

  2. #2
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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.22.75/Hummers_5F00_042-copy-copy.jpg[/img]


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.22.75/Hummers-061-copy-copy.jpg[/img]


    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.22.75/Hummers_5F00_056-copy-copy.jpg[/img]


    Bob,


    Nice shots. Here are a few of mine. My set up is a little different than yours. Tripod, remote shutter release, continuous shooting mode, no flash, pre-focus near flower or feeder, 1/250-1/500/sec, f/4-8, iso 100-400, fl=280-420, early morning light from side. Wait for Hummer to enter zone, sitting 20 feet away with wired shutter release, and fire away. I tend to not want to freeze the wings because that is not how we view them in nature. Personal choice.[img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.22.75/Hummers2_5F00_058-copy-copy.jpg[/img]

  3. #3
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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Bob I'm sorry to say this, but I do absolutely love Tom's photos without a flash! Wow!


    Not that yours are bad or something. I do like the fact that you keep the background from completely black and you keep some moving natural detail.


    But personally I prefer the non-flashed photos. And ISO-100-400 vs ISO 1600...I would know what I had to try out [:O]


    Great shots,


    Jan


    Edit: Bob did you use second curtain flash? If not..could that make a difference in ghosting?

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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Bob, First off I would like to thank you for posting this thread. I have been stalking my 3 hb feeders but have yet to see one although my daughter has seen them a number of times ...she's home more often then I am. Next year, I'm going to double the amount of feeders I have! Second,nice captures on all your photos ...I really like your last photo alot, what kind of flower is that? Your noise level is pretty high though, did you try any noise reduction in DPP?

    Tom - ALL your photos are really nice. I especially like the second one ...fantastic capture!

    Question for both of you - What time of day do you mostly see your hummingbirds? Also, I live in SE Wisconsin and I am wondering when the hummingbirds will fly south ...where do you live and for how much longer do you think you will still see them or do you live where they are seen year 'round?

    Denise

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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Art Morris at Birds As Art has often tried to sell a guide to shooting hummingbirds, and I think it often involves using multiple (i.e. 5-6) remote speedlites in HSS to get the shot. I think the ghosting comes down to time, and you're chasing a tough animal since the 7D doesn't seem to support HSS direct or remote.


    Approach #1: stay at/above sync speed, get the ambient dark, and let the flash's short duration help freeze the motion. Try dropping to ISO 200 (three stops up), keeping the aperture and shutter the same. Your background will go dark, so your subject will be lit by the flash. If your subject goes dark, it means your flash is at too low of a power and you'll need to walk that up. The one glitch is that flash duration is normally shortest at lowest power, as is flash recharge, but you need the flash to get the stop-action effect you want so I don't think there's much alternative.


    Approach #2: shoot when ambient is inherently darker, either earlier in the morning or later in the evening, and/or by bringing your own shade. Use that to be able to get an ambient exposure that's still heavily underexposed while keeping the ISO low and the aperture wider than f/22. That'll help you get more out of your flash at low power settings, keeping the duration short as well as the recharge.
    We're a Canon/Profoto family: five cameras, sixteen lenses, fifteen Profoto lights, too many modifiers.

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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Quote Originally Posted by ddt0725




    Tom - ALL your photos are really nice. I especially like the second one ...fantastic capture!

    Question for both of you - What time of day do you mostly see your hummingbirds? Also, I live in SE Wisconsin and I am wondering when the hummingbirds will fly south ...where do you live and for how much longer do you think you will still see them or do you live where they are seen year 'round?

    Denise
    <div style="clear: both;"]</div>


    Denise,


    Thank you. I see our little guys in the morning and evening the most. They do show up mid-day but it is mostly to guard their feeder. They are very territorial and one tries to be dominant. Some times when they fight they put on a really good show. I live in the Northeast. The only Hummingbird east of the Mississippi is the Ruby Throated. All others are found west with the greatest variety in the southwest. They will be heading to Costa Rica in the next few weeks as temperatures drop and won't return until May. One thing I did not mention about my method for capturing these shots is the yield is low. I may shoot 100 pics and have 10 keepers. But that's OK since it's digital. It's all about timing and watching how they move in and out to feed while constantly on the lookout for predators. Or a dominant hummer as the case may be. Good luck in your shooting.


    Tom

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Kayaker72's Avatar
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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    First of all, both of your pictures are excellent and much sharper than these. But I was out in my lawn testing my old 75-300 USM III trying to decide if I could use it with my new 7D. Basically, I know it isn't "L," but considering Bryan calls it "mediocre" several times in his review,how bad is it? Anyway, this guy flew by and I snapped these pictures. Hand held, manual focus (because the focus does hunt).





    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.46.64/Humming-1.jpg[/img][img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.46.64/Humming-2.jpg[/img][img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.46.64/Humming-3.jpg[/img]

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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Very nice work, capturing those little guys in natural light.


    I tend to like both types of hummingbird shots, the "frozen" multi-flash ones and the natural ones. The challenge with ambient light alone is to get enough light for a good exposure to review good feather detail on the head and body. These I took with a combination of ambient light and fill flash. I don't like the head angle on the first one but it demonstrates the technique.


    EOS 1D MKIII + 300mm 2.8L


    1/160


    f/8


    iso 125





    [img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.32.28/343V9865.jpg[/img][img]/cfs-file.ashx/__key/CommunityServer.Components.UserFiles/00.00.00.32.28/343V9895.jpg[/img]

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bill W's Avatar
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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Bob....good thought to start this link and you have some nice shots, but I have to say I prefer natural light capturing my HBs.


    I use a similar technique to Tom's, but I'll slow the shutter speed down, sometimes as low as 1/80th to maximize wing ghosting in a back lit situation, i.e. shooting into the setting sun.


    I've been trying to capture mine at the bubblerand I finally had some success this morning. Though I have to admit to multi-tasking...I was on the phone w/my sister when this f Ruby throated showed up.I was unable to use the correct technique for shooting w/a tripod which contributed to the softness....I just pressed the cable released and shot away.


    7D, 100-400 at 400, tripod w/cable release, f5.6, ISO 500, 1/125 about 30'

















    Now lets wait for Joel to weigh in.....whoops, a little late w/this comment. []

  10. #10
    Senior Member bob williams's Avatar
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    Re: Capturing Hummers



    Quote Originally Posted by ddt0725
    Bob, First off I would like to thank you for posting this thread. I have been stalking my 3 hb feeders but have yet to see one although my daughter has seen them a number of times ...she's home more often then I am. Next year, I'm going to double the amount of feeders I have! Second,nice captures on all your photos ...I really like your last photo alot, what kind of flower is that? Your noise level is pretty high though, did you try any noise reduction in DPP?

    Denise, Thanks and your welcome. Regarding the bird feeders: I only have one bird feeder which sits under the overhang of my back porch. Here in New Mexico, we typically start start seeing birds in April and they migrate in late September or October. With only one feeder, I still have more than 10 birds that hit the feeder regulalry throughout the day but most frequently in early morning and just before sunset.


    The flower is off of a Mimosa Tree--I just picked one and stuck it in the bird feeder. As far as the noise---You are absolutely correct, This doesn't come from the high ISO, but from pushing the exposure and over sharpening in post processing, sometimes a lot. I find the high ISO (1600)worksfine with virtually no noiseif your exposure is correct.


    Bob
    Bob

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