Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Salvia

Hovering Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Shot

Every year around the end of August to the middle of September, our only Hummingbird in Minnesota the, Ruby-throated begin their migration to Central America. Adult males generally leave first they are the ones that really show the "Ruby" throat patch especially when the light is right. Juveniles and the females leave just a little later and that is the Hummingbird that most of us head to the flower gardens in and around the Twin Cities to get images . Hummingbirds are always a real challenge for photographers they very swiftly go from one flower to the next. Many of us get lots of images of flowers minus the Hummer or just tail feathers as they just left for another flower. But perseverance will eventually pay off for the patient photographer. One very nice thing about the Hummers is they have no fear of us so they literally will fly or nectar within arms reach of you! But I still will use my longest focal length lens to maintain a comfort zone for them. Two of the areas that are usually very good for Hummers is Longfellow Gardens in South Minneapolis and also the Minnesota landscape Arboretum  that is where this images was taken. But almost any local garden that has specific plants that will bring in the Hummers to fuel up as they continue their southerly migration will usually attract them. Even setting out Hummingbird feeders is generally a good spot, but I always prefer my bird images in natural surroundings. Some interesting facts about this Hummingbird; they are the smallest migrating bird, weigh less than a nickel, with wings beat of more than 50 times per second this allows them to hover and they can also fly backwards.The real key to get Hummingbird images is to set your drive to high speed shooting. One of the best tips I can give you is to pre-focus in the general area you expect the Hummers to be. The reason for this is that the flighty birds go for one plant to the next very swiftly and you have only a fraction of a second to focus and get the image. The closer the focus area is the quicker the auto focus will lock on. I recommend that when arriving at your location, just sit back and watch the Hummer activity and this will give you an idea on where to pre-focus, they seem to have a favorite plant/area to nectar on. Sometimes the Hummer will co-operate and hover in front of the plant this will give a fraction of a second longer to press the shutter. That is exactly what this bird did probably 3-4 times went in and out of the Saliva flower and hovered right in front of the plant and this allowed me to get many hair sharp images . A photographer will generally be using a higher ISO to allow a fast shutter speed, my minimum shutter speed is generally 1/2500 of a second, this is generally fast enough to stop some wing movement but faster is better. But to be more creative a slower shutter speed say around 1/1000 second will blur wing movement but at the same time the body and head of the Hummer should be sharp. My aperture is always wide open and on this lens that is F5.6! My guess that by the time you read this the Hummers may have already left for Central America, but there will be next year all you need to do is find the plants/garden!!

"Good Shooting"

Technical Data

Camera: Nikon D500

Lens: Nikon 200mm-500mm @500mm

ISO 3200

Manual Exposure

F5.6 @ 1/2500

Auto ISO

EV: -1/3

Daylight Cloudy WB

Handheld with VR on

Firing in burst mode (High speed shooting)

Post-Processing: Adobe CC (Lightroom and PhotoShop)