The Making of "Aerobatics"

The winning image in our "High Speed" photo contest

By wmarkroberts in Photo Contests on Oct 18, 2014

First of all, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who nominated and voted for my photo. I truly appreciate your support, and feel honoured to have shared the stage with the excellent submissions of my fellow entrants in the August contest.

This photo is the product of an afternoon spent in the gardens of the Green Hills Butterfly Ranch in Cayo, Belize, where a battery of feeders brings in a never-ending procession of members of a half-dozen hummingbird species. I’m especially pleased to have a hummingbird as the subject of my entry because I have his cousins to thank for two of my university theses, for which I built computer-controlled feeders with miniature sensor arrays to study their feeding behaviour.

Not nearly so much premeditation went into this hand-held photo. Primarily, I was just lucky that such a dramatic mid-air manoeuvre landed on my sensor … not to mention fortunate enough to have the 8.3 fps of my K-3 under my trigger finger. To lock in the focus it also helped that I have deactivated auto-focus on the shutter button, always using the rear AF button instead. All this didn’t compensate for my reaction time being no match for a hummingbird’s flying skills, and fewer than 1% of my shots from that session were usable; good thing that storage is cheap!

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