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  • Hummingbirds - Comments?

    OK... the question of photographing Hummingbirds came up in a recent thread of Hals and I was reluctant to give any advice as I thought my abilities could also use some assistance. In hindsight, that was probably wrong as I think anyone can give useful feedback, even non-photographers.

    It did however get me thinking about what was wrong with my shots and where I thought I needed to go for improvement. Over the last few days I have plunked my chair in front of the Hydrangea bush and near a few potted plants to try my best to get some Hummingbirds (they are almost all gone south already, I expect within the next couple of days they will all have left).

    This one was easy as it is sitting, but I'm adding it here because I like the whimsical look of the bird while he surveys the flowers below. E-30, 50-200SWD 1/1000 @F5, ISO 800, manual camera setting with some PP, heavily cropped. A common theme developed while I did these shots, I use LSF JPEG, not RAW.




    The next 3 shots were part of five I took at the Hydrangea. All came out respectable but these 3 had the best poses. E-30 with 50-200SWD and EC14, 1/1000 @ f5.6, ISO 800, manual settings, LSF JPEG, again heavily cropped with some PP in PaintShop Pro X4.











    In a nutshell, thats about the best I can do at this stage. Where to go from here. I think my shots could have more detail and that the camera and lens is well capable of that. I have taken a few more shots with the JPEG + RAW setting. I processed a couple using Aftershot Pro (old Bibble bought by Corel) and the results have been promising, the RAW pictures are better than the out of camera JPEGs but need more work to get them there and I'm only just learning to use Aftershot. Also, I've thought about trying to get closer and not using crops so much. Maybe try flash.

    I would appreciate any feed back on these photos and please feel free to modify or add photos to this thread, Hal will probably be reading it as well...
    "Stef" E-620 and stuff...

  • #2
    Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

    I don't know where you go from here because I think these are fantastic! The third is my favourite, I really like the mid flight captures. I saw a documentary on Animal Planet I think "Magic in the Air", these birds are amazing.
    Cheers, Rob

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    • #3
      Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

      I like these a lot too.
      Personally, with JPEGs like these, I would be shooting RAW only and/or JPEG with sharpening turned all the way down, so you can denoise nad sharpen it later in PP. (I tried to denoise two of these and results were not bad at all, but it causes a loss of detail and additional sharpening of already sharpened picture creates halos and artifacts).
      If all these are crops, I wouldn't crop picture #3 so tightly and keep slightly more space on the left, just about the same amount of space as is from the tip of the tail to the right edge.

      Getting closer will give you more detail and less noise, but I have absolutely no idea how hard or easy it will be. Other option would be using longer lens(Bigma) or 2x converter instead of 1.4x, but that's more likely if you are going to specialize to this kind of pictures, as it brings expenses.

      Cheers,
      Pavel
      Regards, Pavel.

      E-1(x2) | ZD 14-45 | ZD 14-54 | ZD 40-150 Mk.1 | ZD 70-300 | FL-50 | Velbon Sherpa 750R
      M42(Pancolar 50/1.8, Pentacon 200/4)+ M42->4/3 reduction

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      • #4
        Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

        Yes, I'm here--first thread I've seen today.

        These photos are all excellent. It's amazing that you still get some motion blur in the wings at 1/1000 sec.--these are some quick little birds! What are your AF settings and technique, Stef? Not that my E-M5/50-200 combination could replicate the AF results for a fast moving subject, but it would at least be a good starting point.

        I agree with Pavel that some of these could be cropped a bit less, to show a little more of the environment/flower. A rule of thirds composition is a good starting point, but obviously shouldn't be followed all the time. Just check for distracting background elements when you include more space around the subject.

        I definitely need to set up something to attract hummingbirds to my backyard. I'll occasionally see one passing through, but it's rare--I don't have enough flowers to hold their interest consistently. Maybe next year . . .

        My only other comment is that photos of birds (and other animals, including humans) are usually best if they are facing at least a little towards you. This is clearly difficult with the hummers, who tend to bury their faces in the flowers. Of the in-flight photos, #2 is great because it's such a clear side view. In #1 and #3, the bird is angled a bit away from the camera. And even in the sitting pose, the bird's body is ever so slightly tilted away. Subtle positioning can make a significant difference in how the viewer experiences the photo. The only real solution to this problem seems to be to be patient, take many photos, and delete most of them.

        - Hal -
        A Still Mind - Photography, Music, Meditation, Ministry - www.astillmind.net
        Olympus E-M5; Panasonic-Leica DG Summilux 25mm; Zuiko 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD; Sigma 105 Macro; Rokinon (Samyang) 7.5mm fisheye; Olympus 8/1.8 PRO fisheye; FL-50R; Giottos MT-8361 tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR ballhead.

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        • #5
          Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

          I can't comment on the quality of the images viewing them on this Blackberry screen but I do find the third shot to tight in the frame.
          It's the image that's important, not the tools used to make it.

          The Grumpy Snapper blog or follow me on Instagram.

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          • #6
            Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

            Thanks Robert, Hummingbirds are amazing to sit and watch and fun to photograph as well.

            Pavel, I have just started to practice with RAW but I can see where that will make a noticable difference. I am not yet disciplined on my order of PP changes and to tend to a shotgun approach, so I will definitly set a schedule of progress, I can understand the benefit of saving sharpening to the last but haven't yet put that to practice. Also, my use of denoising is limited (I think I applied it to one shot only) so definitly something to work on. Point also taken on cropping... thanks, very good suggestions.

            Welcome to what I hope will be Hummingbird College course 101 Hal. I use S-AF with center point only focus and center weight metering. Technique is to guess where the bird will show up and pre-focus, which hasn't worked yet but I cling to the notion that sometime I will get lucky. I start with the lens zoomed down to around 100 and my hand twisted on the collar so that it uncoils to a natural support position when I rotate the zoom closer. This lets me acquire the bird rapidly within the frame and get a quick focus before I zoom up, where I re-acquire focus with several quick depressions to half shutter. I shoot each frame as an individual photo, re-focus at each shot and never take my eye off the viewfinder. I get a lot of rear-end shots as I will snap and re-focus as the bird moves along. When I lose focus I let the lens cycle through what seems to be an hour of hunting while I groan loudly to relieve the tension that builds up, still faster than an attempt at manual correction. A Hummingbird feeder will always get attention, place it where the light is good and with a suitable background for shooting, as well as a comfortable spot to sit and wait. We have 2 out this year and my wife picked the spots, unfortunately not considering the great white wall I have which could serve as a giant reflector. Using the feeder as an attractor results in some trickier focusing but many more picture opportunities...

            Thanks David, I agree on the crop. I thought you lived in Newmarket, surely you have choices for internet down there...

            Keep the comments and dialogue coming... thanks.
            "Stef" E-620 and stuff...

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

              No, I'm in the bush on the Bruce Peninsula with no land line.
              It's the image that's important, not the tools used to make it.

              The Grumpy Snapper blog or follow me on Instagram.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                Then I certainly know what you're going through Dave as I am in a similar situation here. My main feed is a wireless antennae about 60' up on a giant pine which was decapitated by a tornado (downburst according to the Ministry of Natural Resources, but any wind which can twist a 3 foot thick pine off is a Tornado in my language)...
                "Stef" E-620 and stuff...

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                • #9
                  Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                  Here's an interesting link to someone elses methodology. I think if I took that long to set up I'd only be capturing the next generation of birds...

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pBO-...eature=related
                  "Stef" E-620 and stuff...

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                  • #10
                    Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                    I think you will be able to extract more out RAW and cure a little edge fringing I can see - but these are spectacular shots and I can only dream of what it's like to have hummingbirds in your garden!

                    Ian
                    Founder/editor
                    Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                    Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                    Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                    Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
                    Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                    Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                    Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

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                    • #11
                      Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                      We've got a hummingbird feeder hanging outside the patio door although recently they seem to be spending more time chasing each other away from it than feeding from it.
                      It's the image that's important, not the tools used to make it.

                      The Grumpy Snapper blog or follow me on Instagram.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                        Originally posted by David M View Post
                        We've got a hummingbird feeder hanging outside the patio door although recently they seem to be spending more time chasing each other away from it than feeding from it.
                        Wow! I thought hummingbirds were a tropical or sub-tropical species?

                        Ian
                        Founder/editor
                        Four Thirds User (http://fourthirds-user.com)
                        Digital Photography Now (http://dpnow.com)
                        Olympus UK E-System User Group (http://e-group.uk.net)
                        Olympus camera, lens, and accessory hire (http://e-group.uk.net/hire)
                        Twitter: www.twitter.com/ian_burley
                        Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/dpnow/
                        Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ianburley/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                          Originally posted by Ian View Post
                          Wow! I thought hummingbirds were a tropical or sub-tropical species?

                          Ian
                          Most of them are, and they all winter in warm climates. But many migrate long distances (several thousand miles) up north for the summer. They really are amazing in so many ways. In addition to nectar, they eat many insects to power those fast wings. They are very vocal as well, and the males are very competitive when it comes to the lady hummingbirds. Different species can be specialized in size, shape, and length/shape of their bills for the particular flowers they feed from.

                          For a great documentary about hummingbirds, see the PBS series "Nature" here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episo...oduction/5424/

                          - Hal -
                          Last edited by hschnee; 3rd September 2012, 06:55 PM. Reason: added video link
                          A Still Mind - Photography, Music, Meditation, Ministry - www.astillmind.net
                          Olympus E-M5; Panasonic-Leica DG Summilux 25mm; Zuiko 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD; Sigma 105 Macro; Rokinon (Samyang) 7.5mm fisheye; Olympus 8/1.8 PRO fisheye; FL-50R; Giottos MT-8361 tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR ballhead.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                            They're a summer visitor for us and West Arm Rider. We only get one species this side of the Rockies, the Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Ours are so aggressive at the moment they're chasing the Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches away from the sunflower seed feeders.
                            It's the image that's important, not the tools used to make it.

                            The Grumpy Snapper blog or follow me on Instagram.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Hummingbirds - Comments?

                              Here's a method for getting pictures of hummingbirds that I hadn't considered: http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/n...udubon-birdcam

                              Takes a lot of the fun out of photography, though!

                              - Hal -
                              A Still Mind - Photography, Music, Meditation, Ministry - www.astillmind.net
                              Olympus E-M5; Panasonic-Leica DG Summilux 25mm; Zuiko 12-60 SWD, 50-200 SWD; Sigma 105 Macro; Rokinon (Samyang) 7.5mm fisheye; Olympus 8/1.8 PRO fisheye; FL-50R; Giottos MT-8361 tripod with Gitzo GH2780QR ballhead.

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