Photographing Hummingbirds

Hummer, speed, camera,
Broad-billed Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are wonderful to watch and try to capture. They are very fast as their wings move at more than 50 flaps per second and can fly at about 15 m/s. The sounds of their wings flapping create a humming sound that humans can hear. This is the reason they are called Hummingbirds. Normally I shoot Hummingbirds at a Shutter Speed of 800 to 1200 depending on what I am trying to capture. The above picture was taken at a slow Shutter Speed of 1/15 of a second on a tripod. It gives a unique and wonderful picture of a hovering hummingbird. It almost looks like it was standing still and only its wings were moving. By slowing the Shutter Speed, we can now see the wings as they move along with its tail movement.

There are three (3) techniques commonly used in digital cameras today. The first is Shutter Speed (S), which is how long the shutter on the camera is open. Next, we have Aperture (A), which is how big a hole is allowed in the lens. Last is ISO, which is how sensitivity of the digital senor is to light. With digital camera, we can change each of these depending on light conditions and the time of day by using Manual setting (M). When you set your camera on “S” for Shutter Speed, the camera automatically figures out what the aperture should be based on the light and exposure. You only have to worry about what speed you want at this point.

The Shutter Speed will also affect how much light is let into the camera. The faster the speed, the less light is let in. The slower the speed the more light is let in. Therefore, at Sunrise or Sunset, you will set your shutter speed lower depending on the light and how you want the picture to look. Sometimes to get those wonderful colors, we set the shutter speed slower so we can get more of the light to come in and show us the colors. However, I like the darkness with the colors, so I set my speed a little higher. Check the picture below. It shows a shot of sunset with a Nikon D7100 camera, Aperture or f-stop of 7.1, Exposure time or Shutter Speed of 1/250 sec (250) and ISO of 200.

Sunset on speed setting


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