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Posts Tagged ‘Archilochus colubris’

I was excited to spot this Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) during a short visit yesterday to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens with some friends. The hummingbird was feeding on some distant orange jewelweed flowers (Impatiens capensis) and I was using a macro lens at that moment, so I was especially thrilled when I managed to capture this image.

I do not see hummingbirds very often, so it really is a treat for me to see one in action. It is absolutely mesmerizing to watch these little birds frenetically flying among the flowers, stopping from time to time to sip the nectar from one of them. Tracking the moving hummingbird was definitely a challenge with my 180mm macro lens. Strangely enough, though, I probably had an easier time in doing so with this lens than if I had been using my much longer telephoto zoom lens—it can be tough trying to track, focus, and zoom simultaneously when handholding a long lens.

This image is a significant crop of the original image, but the detail holds up fairly well, all things considered. Does equipment matter? It matters to some extent, but you can often get decent results by simply taking the shots with whatever camera and lens that you have at hand.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Normally I don’t do consecutive blog posts of the same subject, but I got such an overwhelmingly positive response yesterday to my images of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) that I decided to post a few more. All of these hummingbirds, the only species found in the eastern part of the US, will probably depart soon to winter in a warmer climate, so I figure I better take advantage of this opportunity while I have it.

The best chance to snap a photo of a hummingbird is when it hovers to gather nectar (or when it is perched), but I managed to capture the first image as the hummingbird was zooming on by. I love its body position.

From an artistic perspective, the second image is my favorite. The background is simplified and less cluttered than in other images and the bright color of the flowers really grabs the viewer’s eyes. The slightly blurred wings are in a wonderful position and help to emphasize the sense that the hummingbird is in motion.

The final shot was taken with a different camera. As I noted yesterday, I was shooting with my 180mm macro lens, but I also had my Canon SX50 superzoom camera with me. It has a long reach, but doesn’t handle fast action very well, so it mostly stayed in the camera bag. When one of the hummingbirds perched in a distant tree, however, I was able to pull it out and use it for this static portrait.

 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It was cloudy and there was intermittent rain, but some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) were active at Green Spring Gardens yesterday. My macro lens might not have been the optimal choice for photographing them, but it is what I had on my camera and I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

As I have noted many times before, I really like my macro lens, a Tamron 180mm lens. Because of the crop sensor of my Canon 50D DSLR, the lens has an equivalent field of view of 288mm, which lets me use if as a telephoto lens in a pinch. The only down side of the lens is that it does not have any image stabilization so I have to pay attention to my shutter speed and/or use a monopod as I was doing yesterday.

I noted that the hummingbirds seemed to like a particular kind of flower, so I planted myself in front of a patch of them and waited. The hummingbirds returned several times and I was able to decent shots. As I was waiting, it began to rain a bit, so I opened my umbrella and kept shooting—the hummingbirds did not seem to mind the light rain. It must have been quite a sight to see me with my umbrella in one hand and my camera on the monopod in the other.

For those of you who are interested in camera settings, I was shooting at ISO 1600 in aperture-preferred mode with an aperture setting of f/5. The relatively poor lighting meant that my shutter speed generally was 1/500 or slower, which was not fast enough to freeze the motion of the wings, but did allow me to capture the body fairly well when the hummingbird hovered.

I have a few more hummingbird shots that I may use in another posting, but wanted to share these initially.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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This female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) must have been feeling tired or lazy yesterday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park. Rather than going in through the opening in the trumpet vine flower and helping to pollinate it, she opted to drill in through the side of the flower to get to the nectar.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I have known for a while that hummingbirds are attracted to trumpet vines, so I keep my eyes open whenever I pass a stand of them near the observation tower at Huntley Meadows Park. Yesterday morning I finally lucked out and spotted a female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) in the midst of the trumpet vines (Campsis radicansand managed to capture these images, including one in which the hummingbird was resting for a few seconds on a branch before resuming her energetic activity.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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A flash of light among the flowers caught my eye yesterday as I wandered about at Green Spring Gardens and I managed to capture this shot of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris). I don’t see any red on its throat, so I’m guessing that it is a female or an immature male.
When I looked at the EXIF data I realized how lucky I was to get this shot, for the shutter speed used was only 1/250 of a second. That shouldn’t be fast enough to capture a hummingbird in flight and it also is not really fast enough to be shooting with at 552mm handheld with my zoom lens, even with its built-in image stabilization.
As you probably suspect, I wasn’t intentionally shooting with such a slow shutter speed. I had been shooting flowers in aperture priority mode in bright sunlight and had lowered my ISO to 250 right before I spotted the hummingbird from a distance. The hummingbird was darting in and out of the light among the flowers (I think the flower in the photo is a type of salvia flower). I knew that I would have only a limited chance to get a shot, so I aimed and shot with the existing settings.
I’m glad that I have used my Tamron 150-600mm so much this past year, because I was somehow able to rely on muscle memory and instincts to help me get this shot, though I must acknowledge that luck played a huge role too.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday as I was watching some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) buzzing around some distant trumpet flowers at Huntley Meadows Park, one of them suddenly flew closer to a small patch of cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis).  The shutter speed was too slow to stop the action completely, but you can see how perfectly the hummingbird’s bill fits into the long tubular flower that is too narrow for most bees to reach.

Hummingbirds fly really fast, so I wasn’t too surprised that there was a lot of motion blur in my shots. I was a bit shocked, however, to see that my shutter speed had fallen to 1/100 of a second for these shots, which is, of course, way too slow for the subject, particularly because I was shooting with my zoom lens at 600mm handheld. When I was focusing on the sitting hummingbird that I included as the final shot here, there was considerably more light and the subject was stationary and I did not make any adjustments when the hummingbird flew to a darker area with the cardinal flowers.

If you look closely at the shot of the perched hummingbird, you may notice that it has tiny feet. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “The extremely short legs of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird prevent it from walking or hopping. The best it can do is shuffle along a perch. Nevertheless, it scratches its head and neck by raising its foot up and over its wing.”

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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