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Single mother
Posted By: baro-nite, 04-30-2012, 09:35 AM

Yesterday I noticed that a Ruby-throated Hummingbird has started a nest in a tree in front of my house. I expect I'll be posting quite a few shots of her and her soon-to-be burgeoning family, so rather than spamming other threads with them I decided to start this one.

Cloudy this morning but there were a few glimmers of sun at just the right time to peek in. Also, I added a flash at another window, below right, to supplement the on-camera flash and to help give some modeling to the lighting.


There's no place like home (57% crop)
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05-05-2012, 09:55 AM   #16
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She is such a deal little bird. I am enjoying your series so much.

05-05-2012, 10:21 AM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by lamented bovine Quote
Nice Shots
Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
you can definitely tell a difference with the flash extender, more great shots. Nature is sure odd sometimes, the female Ruby Throat has to build the nest, defend her territory all while laying the eggs and occasionally going off to feed which leaves the nest unguarded. Poor thing is going to have a nervous breakdown.
Thanks Bob -- it is odd, but nearly all hummingbird species share this behavior. I almost never see the males; they flit in for breeding season and then head further north. About the lighting, I should have clarified that these are all mixed light to some degree -- I am looking for those time windows when direct sun makes it in. Here's what the off-axis flash does by itself, shot early when ambient light was low. As you can see, it gives a nice side light to the nest and leaves, but not so much to the bird when she is on the nest. So the highlights in the other shots from this morning are direct sun.

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QuoteOriginally posted by tessfully Quote
She is such a deal little bird. I am enjoying your series so much.
Thanks Tess!
05-05-2012, 10:36 AM   #18
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thanks Jeff, now I understand what is going on. I bet you are tempted to trim those leaves back, just kidding.
05-05-2012, 05:12 PM   #19
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
I bet you are tempted to trim those leaves back, just kidding
If I thought there were a way I could get to them, and do so without disturbing anything, I would. But fortunately I'm not even tempted to try, because there's just no way for me to reach it.

Got some much needed rain this evening, and Mama had to batten down the hatches, wings outspread to protect the eggs, while the water rolls down her bill and onto her head:


(just a quick high-ISO grab from a lower window)

And here I am ensconced in my attic lair:
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05-09-2012, 08:09 AM   #20
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More rain last night, which moves the leaves around and changes where I can shoot and light from. This morning I put a flash w/beamer in the attic at my usual shooting spot, then set up the camera in a lower window. No fill, just the one flash. Not a great shooting angle but I'll take what I can get. TC should arrive today so I am on pins and needles to see whether or not it really is the promised L-converter.


Perseverance (80% crop)

Last edited by baro-nite; 05-09-2012 at 08:10 AM. Reason: typo
05-09-2012, 09:52 AM   #21
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I am so enjoying this series. Thanks for going to all the expense and trouble to provide this wonderful series. Please keep them coming.
05-09-2012, 01:38 PM   #22
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Thanks Susan! I'm having a blast and am delighted to be able to share.

TC arrived, and it is indeed the L version. Naturally, it started raining almost as soon as I got the box open. Of course, worse for her than for me; it is really worrisome watching her during these thunderstorms. But she obviously knows how to build a nest that will stand up to it, and how to ride out the storm. It's quieting down again, and she's back to her usual routine of scanning left and right.

Managed to fire off a few before the storm began in earnest. Higher ISO and not much help from ambient light; back to my usual perch in the attic, with on-axis fill and another flash below right. Here's a 67% crop, Pentax-A 1:5.6 400mm plus the Rear Converter 1.4x-L. Not a great shot for showing what the TC can do, but I am impressed with its performance so far.
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Last edited by baro-nite; 05-09-2012 at 01:41 PM. Reason: clarification
05-10-2012, 05:13 AM   #23
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Thank you! I love the shot of you in your lair... it adds so much to the series to think of you there as I view your images and the progression. Great stuff!

05-10-2012, 10:10 AM   #24
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Thanks Tess. Rain is gone and a lovely cool front is moving through, so it's a bit windy for shooting this morning. Here's a better look at what the 1.4x-L converter can do, a 50% crop. Just one flash, on axis, and here the sun gave some natural separation lighting:



Last night as I made my last check before dark, I saw her perching on a branch near the nest. Then I saw that she was still in the nest -- it was another hummer on the branch. Mama stayed put in her nest, which surprised me a little as I was expecting some territorial display. But it was still windy and a bit rainy so maybe she needed to stay on the eggs. Or maybe it was a male hummer and she didn't care -- I couldn't tell in the near-darkness. I tried to steal a quick shot but unsurprisingly when I opened the window the visitor vanished.
05-11-2012, 10:39 AM   #25
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Today I tried the above rig, plus 25mm of extension. Magnification is slightly greater, and this gets into a different part of the lens's focal range (focus scale showing about 30m, whereas the actual distance is around 10m). Not sure if the lens is quite as sharp at farther focus; at any rate the extra light loss from the extension is something I can hardly afford with my current ISO range. 50% crop, ISO 400, on-axis fill flash at half power:

05-12-2012, 09:33 AM   #26
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Same rig as in previous post; sunnier today but still shooting ISO 400. I know that sounds pretty low, but with the K10D it is about the upper limit for keeping the noise to a moderate level. Leaves continue to rearrange themselves so that I have to move around to find reasonable shooting spots. This morning I started low, which is nice because I get more natural looking light from the fill flash in the attic, but not so good in that the point of view is well below the level of the nest. Then as the leaves moved around in the mild breeze I took the camera back up to the attic for a session.

She was very busy this morning chasing off intruders: Mockingbirds, Robins, Catbirds, squirrels. I'm seriously considering picking up a K-01 to try some video. Main thing holding me back is how much I'll be away over the next three weeks.


(50% crop)


(67% crop)
05-12-2012, 11:16 AM   #27
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Very cool. Thanks for the updates!
05-12-2012, 12:11 PM   #28
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thanks Jeff, you answered my ISO question, how far off the ground is the nest. Thanks for keeping the thread going, it's nice to go to one page and get updates and review your older photos. Both my wife and I have really enjoyed your efforts. Bob
05-14-2012, 02:34 PM   #29
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob Harris Quote
thanks Jeff, you answered my ISO question, how far off the ground is the nest. Thanks for keeping the thread going, it's nice to go to one page and get updates and review your older photos. Both my wife and I have really enjoyed your efforts. Bob
Bob, so glad you and your wife are enjoying this series. The nest is around 30 feet up -- the attic window is effectively the third floor, and from there I am still looking up slightly at the nest. Apparently they often nest lower than this, although maybe that is when they nest over water, something they also do frequently (so I have read).

No news, and it's been two weeks since I guess she laid and started incubating. I'm leaving tomorrow for a six-day trip, and if my guess is right the chicks will hatch in a couple of days. If anything happens tonight or early tomorrow I'll try to fire off some quick shots before leaving, otherwise I will be returning home with great anticipation!

Rain last night and today, so the leaves are crowding around and the light isn't great, and on-axis fill is all I can add:

05-22-2012, 08:13 AM   #30
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Back from trip #1 and no chicks yet. Unfortunately I have completely lost my attic viewpoint as the leaves have continued to crowd in. The only elevated viewpoint I have left is from the very top of a second-story window, meaning tripod at full extension, standing on carpet, not a stable platform.

I did get my 2x-L converter in the mail (thanks Barbarosa!). Not quite a fair test of its performance given the shaky platform; so far I haven't improved over cropping with no TC or the 1.4x. 50% crop with Pentax-A 1:5.6 400mm + Rear Conveter 2x-L, ISO 400, fill flash:


Last edited by baro-nite; 05-22-2012 at 08:24 AM.
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