Hummingbirds in the Garden
Photographing Hummingbirds isn’t as difficult as many people think. Sure, they’re quick, but grabbing a nice shot is just a matter of timing. Don’t waste your time trying to focus on one and follow it everywhere. Instead, wait until it gets to a flower and then shoot. It helps to pre focus on a flower and wait for the hummer to hit the flower. You can get a shot of it sipping nectar, or wait until it backs out and hovers.
Hummingbirds always follow the same pattern. Take a sip, back out, take a sip, back out. Once you see how they act and ready yourself, capturing a beautiful image of one becomes second nature.
Now, two important items here. Lighting, and filling the frame. Photographing a hummingbird in the shade obviously will result in a dark image of the bird which is not very flattering. You’re a photographer, lighting is your #1 tool. Take advantage of it. Don’t be afraid to use some fill flash. Of course that will require high speed sync which is another blog topic. Basically if your using a shutter speed of say 1/2500 and faster, the flash will have to fire along at that speed or you’ll wind up getting a big block of black in your image.
Secondly, you need to get the bird as large as you can in the frame. If you shoot too far away you’ll have to do some heavy cropping and the results wont look good. When photographing hummingbirds, I always use an extension tube. Xit XTETC Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set for Canon SLR Cameras (Black), Xit XTETN Auto Focus Macro Extension Tube Set for Nikon SLR Cameras (Black) (Renewed) The links above are affiliate links to Amazon.
Extension tubes reduce the minimum focusing distance of your lens. It’s kind of like a modified macro lens. Which by the way you can use the tubes for other types of photography and they will allow you to get closer to your subjects.