Greg Scott Online Photo Workshop Hummingbird Photo Workshop Online Hummingbird Photo Workshop

This is an incomplete draft, published as a document under writing and revision.

In August and early September 2006, I'll offer a free informal hummingbird photography workshop in Alpharetta Georgia. This is contingent on my personal schedule, but that's my plan. In advance to that, I'll respond to email questions, and also document techniques on this website. Participants in this online workshop will have preference for selection for the onsite workshop, but it's not a requirement.

Meanwhile, I'll attempt to answer questions by email, and summarize those discussions by reposting them here.

If you want to take photos of hummingbirds in the spring, it's not to early to begin to prepare. (It's December, 2005 as I write the previous sentence.) You can prepare in a wide variety of ways, some of which can take years, not merely days or months:
Create a garden environment which is inviting to hummingbirds.
Survey photographic styles and techniques, and determine your photographic objectives
Evaluate and select equipment consistent to your budget, objectives, and other considerations
Learn the technical details of how the camera and flash work, and how controls and settings impact the images captured.
Test and practice techniques so you'll be confident and prepared, and have a clear plan when the birds arrive.
Have fun on the way, and follow your photographic muse, and enjoy the birds and other models you have right now.

Things to learn:
How to use flash to get photos of birds with minimal wing blur
How get "pleasing" photos of birds with blurred wings, which some people prefer, for a more natural "feel".
How to control your cameras with manual settings. (Bring your manuals! for camera and flash! I barely know how to use my own camera, much less yours!)
How to use automatic settings to get (as close as feasable) to the functionality you need.

This would be an casual, informal outdoors/garden "workshop" rather than formal classroom instruction.

Digital cameras would tend to be better because it's easier to confirm and adjust correct exposure, framing, lighting, and so on, and it saves a tremendous amount of money on film and processing.
Editing digital photos
Demonstrate the advantages of using RAW file formats, TIFF formats, or other high quality formats.
No specialized equipment is required to get some kind of photo, given an adequate supply of birds.
However, here's some extra equipment that may be useful or necessary, depending on what you want to do:
  • external flash(s)
  • tripods, as many as you can lay hands on. A stepladder can be an excellent supplement, and improve stability and reduce the number of tripods needed.
  • remote camera release cable
  • off camera flash cable
  • slave flash accessories, if needed
  • extra batteries
  • posterboard or other backgrounds. I prefer white, which looks grey, if you have it far enough from the flash.
  • adhesive tape
  • rope
  • cooler, snacks, drinks, ice
  • lawn chair
  • card table
  • anything suitable to provide shade for yourself and/or your camera.
  • feeders: selection, care, and location
  • water
  • Dummy and Feeder plants
  • laptop, USB hub, interface cables, video TV adapter.


  • I'm planning a free hummingbird photo late next summer during the hummingbird migration. Slots will be limited and you must reserve your slot by email response and confirmation. No photographic experience is required. However, I'll make suggestions beforehand, time permitting, of "exercises" you can do to prepare. I don't want folks to fly into town and be disappointed though, I don't have an absolutely reliable source of birds during that time, and there are other scheduling problems, so flexibility will be required.

    Only "local" folks should attend, probably, unless you're extremely highly motivated and even more forgiving if things don't work out. But if the planets and birds align favorably, I could probably support up to 3 or 4 folks, perhaps more, each with their own camera (I presume). I could provide tips on preferred equipment, given your camera's capabilities. Schedule considerations:

    When the birds arrive, and in what concentrations. This probably means very short notice: "OK, we're on for this weekend, birds are here in quantity, and hopefully they'll stick around until then."

    Time:
    I'll be setting up before dawn. If you come later, you'll miss the morning rush, and the birds may not find your feeder. I'll have up to 5 feeders out, so hopefully, there will be some feeders that the birds are already used to. There will be another, slower session, in the evening, probably from 5 to sunset. We might do the evening session on a Friday, so we can spend time then working on setup, exposure, focus, camera and flash and other technical issues. Then, the following morning, when birds are more likely, we can hopefully repeat our setups quickly at dawn.
    My own personal schedule factors:
    I might do this more than one weekend in a row, if the bird population still seems to be rising during the week after the first session. Obviously, you could "practice" on your own in between such sessions, if there are more than one, or keep coming back to this thread, to ask questions.
    If you're interested let me know. If anybody DOES have a reliable supply of spring Ruby Throats in the area, and wants to volunteer to "host" the session(s) or provide an alternate site if the birds abandon me, then that might help.

    You might want to bring any equipment that would help you photograph my yard birds, in case the hummers abandon us. I have fairly reliable titmice, chickadees, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, and often blue jays, with occasional visitors of numerous other kinds.

    Maybe you'll be able to teach me some things, too. I'm not a very good birder, for example, and my garden could use some help, too. Maybe you can even give me photographic inspiration. There's nothing like a good student to improve the teacher!

    If you're a relatively inexperienced photographer, we should probably begin discussing technique NOW. It's never too soon to do test setups, and to take some practice shots to make sure that you'll be prepared when the birds come. Email me questions, which I'll post here, along with my replies. I may also write weekly discussions of some of the topics involved, and suggest practical ways to test your setup to get an idea for how well it will work.

    Warning: I'm a quirky guy with a bad memory. While I can teach, it takes a special kind of tolerance to be able to listen to what I have to offer. However, I consider that for anybody that's read this far, it would be well worth the time and effort to attend.
    I have one tentative "taker" on this offer so far, so don't wait until there are more people than I can handle. I'm on a medical disability for my memory and other related issues, so for you, that's a good thing. That means that I may be able to hold other sessions weekdays as well, as your schedule and mine permit. Even so, I can only manage so many people, logistically.