Did you ever get the desire to take a photograph but you just didn’t have the time or the inclination to drive a long ways to take it? Well, that happened to me just over this last weekend.
I have been studying, reading, and talking with friends about photographing hummingbirds for a long time. Arizona Highways Photo Workshops has a specific workshop on this, and it is terrific. I decided to try my hand at it on my own from the comfort of my living room. That’s why I call this Lazy Boy Photography. I have hummingbird feeders on my back patio and in my front yard as well. The hummingbirds tend to visit first thing in the morning, and again late afternoon. I use Nikon equipment, and take advantage of their commander-slave strobe synchronization technology. I set up four strobes in total, one below, another above, and one each on the left and right side of the focus point. You can see this in the attached photograph. I used two different cameras, two different lenses, and three ways to trigger the shutter.
One camera and lens combination was a Nikon D810 body with a Nikkor 70-200 mm F/4 lens.The other is a Nikon D7100 body with a Nikkor 24-120mm lens. Overall, I prefer using the D810 for the better image quality and also because it has a larger buffer so I could shoot more photographs more quickly. I tried the Nikon wireless remote utility using an iPad and the remote adapter for that D7100, but the app is just too inconsistent for this use. On the D810, I used a iUSBport Camera2 to trigger the system remotely with my iPad. This works better, has a faster reaction time and you can make many camera adjustments from the app. The third way I triggered the set up was with a wired remote, but I soon tired of standing so close to the camera. For settings, I used high speed flash synch, aperture f/22 for maximum depth of field, ISO 800, and flash distances of about 24 to 30 inches. You’ll need to experiment. We take advantage of the high effective shutter speeds of the flash to freeze the wings of these little beauties.
Photographing hummingbirds takes practice and patience. That’s why I decided, on my first attempt, to do it from the convenience of my living room. Over the course of about four hours I ended up getting three or four images that are usable. This one is from a small part of the frame. I encourage you to try new subjects and methods, and of course to learn from others, especially from Arizona Highways Photo Workshops, visit www.AHPW.org.
David is a Volunteer Trip Leader, Author and Instructor. Visit him at www.HuffmanPhotoArt.com.