While hummingbirds are amazingly beautiful and photogenic little creatures, they are also incredibly hard to capture well on camera! We have tried to learn how to improve our photography over the years, and wanted to share some of the advice we’ve received. Our three main amateur photographers on staff each share their top suggestion below for these tips on taking great pictures of hummingbirds:
Let the hummingbirds get used to you. (Caylin)
I have taken photos of many different hummingbirds with many different feeders in many different settings, and the number one problem that I run into is always the same: if I make even the slightest move, the hummer will fly away. To avoid this problem, I usually try to make the bird familiar with me by sitting still near the feeder and letting it drink comfortably. After about thirty minutes to an hour of the hummer coming and going with me reasonably close by, I’ll pull out my camera and, while still moving very slowly, attempt to take a few photos. Sometimes it takes thirty minutes, sometimes it takes longer than that. Even though it seems to take forever, I’ll eventually get that perfect picture, and all that waiting will have been worth it. 🙂
Lighting, lighting, lighting. (Caitlynn)
Well, this principle is important in every type of photography, but I have found lighting uniquely difficult when it comes to photographing hummingbirds. The main reason I’ve struggled with this recently is that you have to have pretty bright light in order to turn up your shutter speed fast enough to freeze the hummingbird in motion. Not enough light, and the wings will look blurry, if not the whole body! If you want great pictures of hummingbirds, try to find a time of day and place when you have great, clear light, and no shadows. If you are shooting manually, turn up the shutter speed as high as you can!
Be patient. (Ryan)
The biggest tip I can offer concerning hummingbird photography is this: be patient. Instant gratification will not win you quality photos. The best moments between you and nature usually come when you are exhausted from the monotony of standing/sitting in one place, and you are ready to give up. Fight the urge to give up, though. The moment you set your camera down, out of fatigue and frustration, could be a moment you miss with a flighty but beautiful hummingbird. If you will push through the monotony, the images you capture will make your time well worthwhile. Just be patient.
We hope these tips are helpful to you as you work on taking great pictures of hummingbirds from your home! Tag us with your results on Instagram – we would love to see them!