Thanks to Mr. Paul Adams for allowing us to spend some time at the beautiful Baiting Hollow Hummingbird Sanctuary. Last year I came home with some wonderful butterfly images, but this year I was lucky enough to capture a few of these spectacular birds with my camera. Technically speaking, these are one of the more difficult creatures to photograph as their movement is lightning quick, and unpredictable. A few key technical elements I found after some trial and error included:
An external flash (580 EXII) at a reduced power output. I'll spare you the math, but suffice to say, it's faster than any shutter you can set on a camera. An added bonus for using the flash is the nice little catch light in the eye. Still, the shutter was fast at 1/1000 to not only prevent camera shake (tripods were not allowed), but to help freeze the bird. The depth of field was at f5.6, and the ISO ranged from 200-400 depending on the overhead clouds.
I used manual exposure and protected the highlights in order to prevent overexposure in the white parts of the feathers. After a failed attempt at manual focus, I opted for autofocus on a Canon 40D with just the center focusing point active. The lens was a 400mm prime.
Photographing these amazing birds is a fun challenge, and one I look forward to trying again next August.