Lazy Boy Photography

Author: David Huffman

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

David is a Volunteer Trip Leader, Author and Instructor.  Visit him at


Capture Your Moment: Phototrap: The Ultimate Photographic Trigger System

Kathleen Reeder will be presenting two learning sessions at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops’ 30th Anniversary Symposium.  Here’s more about her presentation of the “Phototrap: The Ultimate Photographic Trigger System” she will co-present with inventor Bill Forbes.

Long nosed Nectar Bat at Elephant Head in Amado, Arizona

Long nosed Nectar Bat at Elephant Head in Amado, Arizona

In this session, you will learn:

The Phototrap is made in Arizona and offers durable construction in a compact transport case.  The system will work with any camera or flash unit that can be triggered remotely.  The Phototrap can be wired directly to a camera or to flash.  The infrared sensors work in any lighting situation and allow you to capture those challenging photographs.

With the Direct Mode, the emitter and detector beams are placed to face each other in a straight line.  Use this mode for subjects passing through at a high rate of speed such as bats. With the Reflect mode, the beams are set up at angles to each other in a V or L formation.  This mode works well with hummingbirds, bats and other moving subjects, as you can see in the picture below!

Male Broad-billed hummingbird, photographed in Southern Arizona 2012-04-13_296