Saturday, September 6, 2014

Ruby Throated Hummingbird Flash

More Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have shown up at the feeders this last week. Unlike the scenes from Rockport, TX, we are only getting one bird at a time at the feeder.  I found this nice article on hummingbird behavior giving me insight into just how territorial they can be. I suppose that along the migration flyway, any resident males guarding the feeders are getting overrun by the migratory swarms.

With the late morning sun to my back, the gorget feathers flashed like signal beacons, the iridescence looking more golden than ruby colored. Definitely worth trying to capture in a photo. After some patient waiting, I caught some images of a male showing a nice "flash" in the gorget. Note the black chin under the bill that distinguishes this common species from the Broad Tailed Hummingbird which is rare here in Georgetown.

I positioned myself about 9 ft from the feeder. The birds are still shy enough that they fly away if I move the camera so I used a monopod to hold the camera in position without tiring my arms while I waited. Rather then blocking select holes in the feeder, I opted to wait for one to land in the right spot.

I used a Canon 60Da camera and a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens. With the lens fully extended and the camera set to ISO-400, I adjusted the aperture to f/7.1 giving me enough depth-of-field to focus the full bird but keep the rock wall, about 3 ft behind the feeder, out of focus. In this light, the shutter speed of 1/1600s was adequate for perched poses. I set the camera to high-speed burst imaging to assist in getting some shots that had interesting poses. I decided not to use a flash to keep from creating either "steel eye" or "feather sheen". Like some earlier pictures, I can see details of the yard behind me reflected in the the bird's eyes! However, not using the flash required some post-processing work to raise the brightness of the head shadows and reduce the noise in those dim parts of the image.

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