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05-01-2016, 08:00 AM   #1
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"Shooting" hummingbirds - hints/recommendations?

Hi,

My wife really loves hummingbirds, and she religiously sets out feeders (the red tubes with a sugar water concoction) all over our back deck every year. She actually think she knows their scedules (when they start appearing, when they start mating, when they leave our area - FYI, we live in Northern Virginia, near DC), and she keeps bugging me to take some pics for her.

I have a ton (probably literally) of old lenses that I accumulated plus several tripods (including a Manfrotto anniversary one) and now, a K-r and K-x.

So now, she has like 5-7 feeders hung, all near flower baskets (which is another "passion" of hers), so I am looking for suggestions/recommendations about how we might be able to get some good pictures?

The deck is like 12' x 24' and we have storm door on the back door which has glass, so for now, I've setup one of my cameras with an old 400mm lens (a T-mount on an adapter). I have some other telephotos and zoom lenses (k-mount and m42), but the longest is 205mm (a zoom). I also have a couple of 2x teleconverters (Takumar-A).

I've ordered a remote wireless shutter, but right not I don't have that yet.

Also, I have another question: As I said, she has the feeders hung around some hang baskets, which are hung on some posts that I added to our deck corners. The baskets are essentially exposed to view from above (we don't have any foliage above them (we do have a Sunsetter shade, but we only deploy that when it's sunny and we're home, as it gets windy once in awhile). Would it be better to have her maybe add some plants with foliage ABOVE the hangling baskets, so that they were hidden from view from above (we have various predators around here, like owls, and lately, sometimes, turkey buzzards and maybe hawks?)?

Looking forward to any suggestions/recommendations!!

Thanks,
Jim

05-01-2016, 08:21 AM   #2
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I have used F8, 1250 shutter speed, in TAV mode to successfully get images of hummingbirds. The amount of light you have is a large factor when trying to get images of them due to the fast shutter speed, so shooting at them from the side where the light is most upon them is going to be the most effective. I have a Sigma 150-500 so I have a lot of reach. If you are reasonably close and you have something with less range you may not have a problem, depending on distance. I have also used my Pentax AF360FGZ flash in HSS (high speed synchronization) mode successfully taking shots of them. Good luck.
05-01-2016, 08:24 AM   #3
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Here're a couple of pics of our deck area with the feeders circled:







The first one is off to the left side of the deck, and I can't leave a camera pointed to that area, as it'd block the back door.

I can position a camera that would point to the 2nd area and kind of leave it there pointing to that general area.

---------- Post added 05-01-16 at 08:26 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by C_Jones Quote
I have used F8, 1250 shutter speed, in TAV mode to successfully get images of hummingbirds. The amount of light you have is a large factor when trying to get images of them due to the fast shutter speed, so shooting at them from the side where the light is most upon them is going to be the most effective. I have a Sigma 150-500 so I have a lot of reach. If you are reasonably close and you have something with less range you may not have a problem, depending on distance. I have also used my Pentax AF360FGZ flash in HSS (high speed synchronization) mode successfully taking shots of them. Good luck.

Our posts just crossed, and I just posted some pics of the back deck area to give a better idea of the setup.

The longest lens I have is that 400mm. Longest zoom I have is 205mm, and I just found I have one 200mm fixed length (f/4).

Jim
05-01-2016, 08:31 AM   #4
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If you have a tripod, placing your camera in the most advantageous area would not be difficult.

---------- Post added 05-01-16 at 11:38 AM ----------

The 400 or 205 should work, depending on distance you are planning on from the subject

05-01-2016, 08:42 AM   #5
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Still wondering about "cover"? Are these birds more cautious if the area is open to above?
05-01-2016, 08:59 AM   #6
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If they get used to you, they are not shy in some cases. They have flown right by my head, landed on branches next to me, and fed on flowers in flower beds right in front of me after I have been near them for awhile. That is what has happened when I have been shooting them in the woods (flower bed). It all depends on what they want to do, but if they are not threatened, they are generally friendly.

Last edited by C_Jones; 05-01-2016 at 09:39 AM.
05-01-2016, 09:23 AM   #7
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The birds are quite bold if they are used to you. They even get used to flash photography. Some of them will fly up to inspect my watering can as I water my plants on the balcony.

I bought one of the small "Hummzinger" saucer type feeders. The birds love the built-in perch. One or two will camp out on the perch and chase off all the competition. The saucer feeders are easy to clean and fill and don't drip.

They also make feeders that attach to a window.

(Shot through screen door)
05-01-2016, 09:44 AM   #8
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My mom used to have feeders at front & back windows - the front one was by the kitchen table, and the birds didn't seem to care that we were inches away. Usually it would be one of the older females that would park and fight off all comers. They would usually be most active in the morning and before sunset, when there would about a dozen zipping about and battling - my dad called it "star wars". I was walking back to the house one evening after putting the lawn mower away and felt something soft slam into the back of my head, followed by a quick "HMMmmmmmmmm". They don't always look where they are going.

05-01-2016, 10:03 AM   #9
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Hummers arrive/depart almost to the day for past 10+ years...keeping a diary helps. Rufus, Black Chin, Ruby Throated, and Puff Belly Hummers are our most popular. We have multiple hanging and a couple of window feeders...(4 parts boiled water to 1 part sugar...NO red dye needed please). No need for extra coverage with flower baskets or such. Never seen them attacked by other birds of prey. I usually shoot hand held and have most success in early morning and later evening when they are most active. I use DFA100mm and DA300mm on K5iis and K3...normally shooting between 250-500/sec. I wish you and others much success...Hummers are so enjoyable.
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05-01-2016, 11:14 AM - 1 Like   #10
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Hummers are very bold and with a little patience you can get quite close with your camera. They are also aggressively territorial, and tend to return to the same perches as they scan for invaders. So one tactic is to identify such a perch, set up on a tripod and sit at the camera, waiting for the bird to pose for you. You can get some nice shots with a natural setting this way. This one is a substantial crop; I was using a DA* 300 and was probably fairly close to the MFD of 1.8 meters.

05-01-2016, 12:07 PM   #11
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I initially use my DA 55-300 early in the season when the first arriving birds are more skittish. As more hummers arrive and the competition between these feisty little birds heats up I can get closer and switch to my DFA 100 macro or even my DA 70 Limited. I keep shutter speed high, at least 1/500th of a second as these birds are super quick. Be careful in spacing out feeders so you do not create a war zone where the birds are constantly fighting each other and not spending time on the feeders. Where I live we have one species; the ruby throat. I would think all other hummers are just as feisty. When I put up my second feeder, I place it out of sight from the first feeder so the more subordinate birds have a chance while the dominant birds are monopolizing the first feeder. I noticed some of you put up multiple feeders, my question is how do you maintain peace? I tried putting three feeders and had fewer opportunities to photograph the hummers since they were constantly chasing each other more than actually using the feeders.
One last note: I make my own nectar using 1 part sugar to 4 parts boiled water and no added red coloring. I have read that the red dye does not help attract them and can actually be unhealthy to the birds. Since I switched to my home brew from the commercial products with red dye, I saw no difference in how quickly the birds came to my feeders.

---------- Post added 05-01-16 at 03:24 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
The birds are quite bold if they are used to you. They even get used to flash photography. Some of them will fly up to inspect my watering can as I water my plants on the balcony.

I bought one of the small "Hummzinger" saucer type feeders. The birds love the built-in perch. One or two will camp out on the perch and chase off all the competition. The saucer feeders are easy to clean and fill and don't drip.

They also make feeders that attach to a window.

(Shot through screen door)
Amazing to see three hummers on the feeder. I never get more than one at a time before it is chased away by another hummer after a second to two. What variety are they? The ruby throats here in Delaware are very antisocial and cannot share a feeder even with multiple feeding ports.
05-01-2016, 01:15 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by jddwoods Quote
I initially use my DA 55-300 early in the season when the first arriving birds are more skittish. As more hummers arrive and the competition between these feisty little birds heats up I can get closer and switch to my DFA 100 macro or even my DA 70 Limited. I keep shutter speed high, at least 1/500th of a second as these birds are super quick. Be careful in spacing out feeders so you do not create a war zone where the birds are constantly fighting each other and not spending time on the feeders. Where I live we have one species; the ruby throat. I would think all other hummers are just as feisty. When I put up my second feeder, I place it out of sight from the first feeder so the more subordinate birds have a chance while the dominant birds are monopolizing the first feeder. I noticed some of you put up multiple feeders, my question is how do you maintain peace? I tried putting three feeders and had fewer opportunities to photograph the hummers since they were constantly chasing each other more than actually using the feeders.
One last note: I make my own nectar using 1 part sugar to 4 parts boiled water and no added red coloring. I have read that the red dye does not help attract them and can actually be unhealthy to the birds. Since I switched to my home brew from the commercial products with red dye, I saw no difference in how quickly the birds came to my feeders.

---------- Post added 05-01-16 at 03:24 PM ----------


Amazing to see three hummers on the feeder. I never get more than one at a time before it is chased away by another hummer after a second to two. What variety are they? The ruby throats here in Delaware are very antisocial and cannot share a feeder even with multiple feeding ports.
Ruby Throat on nectar feeder
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05-01-2016, 02:16 PM   #13
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When they are really hungry...and cooperative.
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05-02-2016, 05:53 AM   #14
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One of the great things about hummingbirds is that they do get used to you. They can be shy at first, but once they get to know you, they're pretty friendly. It must be a trust issue. Particularly the young males, who tend to be curious, will perch near you. We had one young male last year who would perch near the dogs and talk to them. This happened pretty much any time one or more of the dogs were out, and laying in the shade of a tree or shrub. They'll perch near my wife or me if we're doing some gardening, too.
06-05-2016, 07:37 AM   #15
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This post is a bit older, but it might help?

Article:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/55-photography-articles/69578-attracting-...mingbirds.html

Images taken with the K10D:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/12-post-your-photos/115033-nature-humming...0mm-5-6-a.html

Regards,
Marc
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