Copyright 2003 Gregory J. Scott
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This image was shot with a Canon D60 with a Canon 100mm Macro lens, and two Canon 550EX flashes on 1/64th power. The background is a white card positioned far enough behind the image so that the reflected flash light does not "wash out" the image. The flashes are positioned approximately 1ft from the bird, and 20 degrees left of the camera (and high, to avoid shadow from the flower) and 20 degrees to the right of the camera, in the same horizontal plane. One camera had a cable to connect it to the camera as a master flash, and the other was set up as a slave with a 1:1 ratio to the master. The camera is about 2 or 3 feet from the feeder. I pre-focused on the feeder which is barely visible to the left of the tip of the bird's bill. I did initial exposure adjustment using the feeder, background and flower, and adjusted exposure as I got birds coming to the feeder. An umbrella was used to keep the subject in shade, and all was supported and adjusted on 4 tripods. Shutter speed was adjusted to keep ambient light two stops below "correct" exposure, or darker, and aperture was open enough to produce marginally adequate exposure. These were at the camera's maximum sync speed, 1/200sec, and f11, approximately. The camera was set on digital "film" iso of 100, but perhaps I should have increased this to allow a higher F stop and more depth of field, and/or decrease power to 1/128th power for higher flash speed. Digital noise, after all, can be removed to some extent in digitial image editing. The camera was set to store images at the highest resolution jpg file format so I only had to download once a day. (Power for my laptop was an issue, no 110vac in campground.) I was helped to arrive at this configuration by my very exprienced father, and a professional photographer whose name I cannot remember. Any fault in the setup is mine, not theirs! One of their most important tips: because hummingbirds come frequently to the feeder, make fairly small incremental adjustments in your setup. Looking back at my photos, I should have made many more changes during the first two days, and I would have gotten better photos. A good bracket mounting system for flash and camera would have been the most important enhancement to the system, and a native Arizona species flower would have been next, and a third/fourth flash for more illumination would have been next, and a naturalistic background would be my 4th major improvement. This would also help, perhaps, to reduce any stress the birds might have from the flash.
The location was a campground south of Tuscon during hummingbird migration season. There were 4 nectar feeders in the campsite, abundant shade (for the region) and some water dishes, which the hummers ignored. I arranged several long running drips or streams of water from bags of water suspended from trees, but the hummingbirds ignored them, to my suprise. (A female Colorado woodpecker, took a spectacular bath for my mother's video camera, however!) The hummers would pass through the campsite intermittently, during midday, but were there continually in the early morning and in the late evening. We saw 5 or 6 species, including BroadBill and Black Chinned, which I caught on camera, and I saw Magnificent, Rufous. The magnificent seemed more shy of people and equipment clutter than the Broadbill and Black Chinned.
This shot shows the whole bird in the frame. It was taken with the same configuration described above. The interesting part of this shot is the clearly seen transition in the wing. The trailing edge of the wing is about to be rotated to follow the leading edge. The top of the wing has already rotated past the vertical plane. Again, this shot is cropped full frame as was taken, but cropped at the right to bring the shot into 8x10 proportions. I've cloned out the tip of the concealed feeder with a flowerpetal.
I don't remember the other two species my mother identified. Also, I got an image of a Calliope hummer in flowers outside of the Desert Museum west of Tucson, but the sun wasn't on it, so there's no irridiscence:
gjs 1664 Broadbill with Sky and Flower 600x480
gjs 2168 desert museum cactus flower yellow and red 600x480
gjs 2174 cactus flower and spiral thorns 600x480