After my trip to Costa Rica I planned to again try my hand at hummingbird photography in my yard. In past years, many hummingbirds, all Rubythroated, would visit my feeders. Usually one would arrive even before the feeder was up, hovering in front of the window location where it is usually mounted. Clearly that bird had been here before. This year was different. This year, we only had one male most of the time, with a second one showing up occasionally, and we had only three females. The male dominated the feeder until I set up a second one out of sight of the other. Now the male guards one feeder, and the three females seem to spend more time chasing each other around the other feeder than eating.
After several weeks of photographing, I haven’t been able to catch the male’s gorget fully lit up. Most captures that are a side view of the male results in dark, almost black gorget feathers. There always seems to be a dark patch of red gorget that never lights up. It’s very difficult to catch the throat lit up, and only seems to happen if the bird is facing the camera, but even then, there’s a patch in the center that doesn’t fully light up. I’ll have to experiment more with light placement to see if I can get better results. Up to now the two front lights have been to either side of the flower. Perhaps I need to place one below and directly in front of the bird. In the past, I’ve used a camera mounted flash with a BetterBeamer to trigger the other flashes. That may provide enough direct light, if lack of direct front light is the cause of the dark feathers.
I’ve been using the Canon 7D with the 500mm f4 Is lens since the birds were very wary of me being nearby. Now they are more comfortable with me there and I’ve been using the 100-400 zoom lens. . I can’t rotate my camera for vertical compositions because the built in flash controller of the 7D will not see all the remote flashes if I do so. So I’ve been taking images with less zoom with the intent of cropping for vertical presentation. The portrait images were taken this way.
There are not many more days to photograph hummingbirds; the males will leave soon and the females a couple of weeks later.