San Diego, CA, USA
Acrylic Print & Metal Print (Click on Image)
1/250s @ f/5.6 ISO 320 @ 300mm
Who doesn’t like hummingbirds? Well, believe it or not, I’ve met a few people in this world who don’t (a phobia I guess) but they’re far and few between. Most folks love hummingbirds (it’s kind of like loving penguins or koala bears). The little buggers are usually flitting around so fast it’s hard to really appreciate them and their beauty, and they’re so small you have to be really close to see any pertinent detail. As a photographer sometimes you just get lucky (Luck = Preparation + Opportunity).
That’s why I love this shot of an Anna’s Hummingbird. He’s wasn’t flitting around, he was actually sitting calmly. And I was very close (about 10-feet away) with a 300mm lens on my camera. The sun was to my back, it was about 2-hours after sunrise (nice soft light with no harsh shadows), and his feathers were shimmering iridescent with no blown highlights. The positioning of his head was perfect and I even got a catch-light in his eye.
Most wildlife photographers want action in their bird shots (especially with hummingbirds) like feeding, mating, or flight and usually I’m no different. But once in a while serenity is a nice change of pace. The moment was perfect except that a large group of jabbering women (Scientific Reason) was quickly approaching and I had to be quick about getting my shot. None too soon as it turned out.
I was still in San Diego, CA (my hometown) preparing to begin my expat life abroad. I had arrived at Lake Murray in San Diego’s east county at sunrise hoping to get some early morning shots before the crowds started to appear. Lake Murray is popular with the fitness folks with its walking, cycling, and jogging trails. Unfortunately, the ubiquitous smart phone and chattering female is always present—not great for grumpy, antisocial wildlife photographers.
Matted & Framed Print (Metallic Paper)
Everyone has a right to enjoy public recreational areas, but I’ve never understood why people can’t enjoy these areas quietly. There is so much wildlife to be seen, but it’s long gone because they hear the human herds approaching from hundreds of yards away. Constant chatter on a smart phone, or among one another, just spoils the serenity and peacefulness of the morning (and ruins many a wildlife photo-op).
I had already been at the lake for about 2-hours, the crowds had arrived, and I was heading back to my car (taking my time and enjoying the morning as it warmed up). There was a group of walkers ahead of me and another group of walkers behind me maybe 30-yards. Out of the corner of my eye I caught this little hummingbird coming to rest about 50-feet away, and I began my approach.
I had to be fast because although the group in front of me continued their walk, the group behind me was closing in fast from the rear (and talking loudly the entire time). I accelerated my stealth approach all the while taking a shot here and there. I finally got to within 10-feet and he hadn’t bolted—he appeared fearless. Now I took my time, composed the shot in my viewfinder, and got a few extra shots. This one was the keeper.
The loud group of ladies behind me finally caught up and my little friend had enough and whirred off into the morning sky. The women asked me what I had seen and what I was doing—I told them about the beautiful Anna’s Hummingbird I had interacted with and photographed, and how rare it was to see (and photograph) one just sitting calmly. Almost in unison they said they wish they could have seen it too. Seriously?
Photographer’s note: Captured as a CameraRAW file with my Canon EOS 5D Mark II full-frame digital camera and Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD telephoto zoom lens. The Tamron is an exceptional wildlife lens for budget minded photographers, and I recommend it highly (checkout the feather detail in this image). I’ve since replaced it with the more robust Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM super telephoto prime lens, but I still miss the zoom capability (and Image Stabilization) of the Tamron now and again. I shot wide-open at f/5.6 (the little critter was all on the same focal plane so DOF wasn’t a problem), and at 1/250s (handheld with IS-Image Stabilization); this combination kept my ISO relatively low at 320. The morning (2-hours after sunrise) was bright overcast—perfect. RAW file converted in Adobe CameraRAW (ACR) and minimal post-edits completed in Photoshop Elements 11 (PSE11). This image is pretty much straight out of the camera with some cropping. SFD
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer, World Traveller
La Serena, Chile