A simple trick for Hummingbird Photography
Those among us who have been trying to get decent pictures of Hummingbirds in flight, know about the difficulties involved: some species exhibit a rather (relatively) slow flight between their stops in the air, allowing you to focus and shoot before they resume their move which for Hummingbirds can be vertically up, down or even back!
There are some of the little species however whose movements are so hectic that it makes it really hard to focus and press the trigger in time. Besides, the camera I use is a Canon 5D MK II, not specially adequate for action, sports or wildlife shooting as it has a fps of 3.9 and it's autofocus is not considered one of it's strengths.
At my last visit to Peru at the Abra Patricia Sanctuary (northern Peru) I tried my best and had time to improvise all types of systems. Finally I came upon a trick which I want to share.
First it was a matter to identify a spot where the hummingbirds come to feed. Of course you can shoot at a feeder but they look ugly and spoil the whole photography unless you can cut them out which is not always possible. Fortunately Hummingbirds show a strong preference for the flowers of certain plants or bushes and they like to come back to them again and again.
Then, the best you can do is to sit down as comfortably as possible and next put your autofocus on manual, focusing it on a point where the hummingbirds seem to stay (flying) more often. Your job consists now on looking through the viewfinder and as soon as a subject appears and seems to be sharp you press the trigger and shot a few shots depending on your fps rate or as long as the bird appears in the viewfinder. By being patient and taking my time I managed to get quite a number of keepers, definitely more then I had got trying desperately to focus on this erratically flying little jewels. I made the job without a tripod but it would be definitely useful to get one.
I am showing here just some of the pictures I got through this simple system and hope you will find it useful too.
Photo credits: Hans Peter Egert.