Saturday, July 12, 2014

The bullet season has arrived

About a month ago the humming birds returned and hence ‘the challenge’. That is trying to capture a natural looking image of these beautiful birds. Not being well endowed with flowers at 7000 ft, we rely heavily on feeders to attract these natural bullets. 

The first challenge is just having patience to stand a wait for the right moment; as humming birds are usually moving very fast. You just need to position yourself and wait.

The other challenge is what camera settings to use. You can use a high shutter speed and Canon High Speed Sync. But most experts will tell you the best approach is to use the flash at reduce power, eg 1/64 or 1/128th power. Of course the light level is much reduced and, ideally, you need to use multiple flash units to ‘amp up’ the flash pulse.

Yet another challenge is what lens to use. This year I started by trying to use my 100 F/2.8L Macro lens, as it has great glass. However, it was soon very apparent I was too close to the feeders. I need a longer lens. 

So the two images below were taken with my 70-200mm F/4L at 200mm and at 1/200s, thus allowing me to step back from the feeders. I also used ML dual-ISO and my Better Beamer to ‘boost’ (focus) the flash’s 1/64th power setting more efficiently on my subjects: a Rufous and a Black Chinned Humming Bird (who are always a war with each over who owns the feeder!)

As you can see, I let too much ambient light hit the birds, as ghosting is clearly visible.

I consider these two images just simple portraits:rather boring images of two beautiful birds. My next challenge is to get them sharper and in more natural poses. I have a few months before they, once again, fly south to Mexico.

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