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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:24 PM   #1
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Default First Attempt at Hummingbirds

Have neither the patience nor the ideal equipment for these amazingly rapid creatures. But this appears to be an especially good year for Hummingbirds here in East Tennessee, so I had to try to get a few snapshots.

Found a large patch of Jewelweed in the home park, and found an hour or so of spare time...
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:29 PM   #2
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My SMC 135-600 is rather cumbersome for trying to follow hummingbirds in flight, but it is my longest lens. It also comes with a close-up lens to allow it to focus as close as 9 feet instead of 18 feet (!!!). Here are a few test shots with the close-up lens in place. Would never have thought of a 135-600 as a "macro" lens, but I think this sycamore leaf and pokeberries came out ok. What do you think?
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:32 PM   #3
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So I headed out to the jewelweed marsh with the 135-600 mounted on a good sturdy tripod, and with the A* 300 - just in case...

Found that the longer lens was too tough (for me) to use with hummers in flight, but 300 was not too bad...
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:37 PM   #4
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Also noticed that these tiny birds spent at least as much time chasing each other as they spent actually feeding! Each hummer seemed to have an individual feeding territory, stoutly defended against all others. And each seemed to have a favorite perch or two - a spot from which to survey his/her domain! Once I found a few of these perches, and once the birds got used to the crazy man with the camera, it was a lot easier to get some fairly clear shots of birds at perch, both with the A*300 and with the 135-600. Here are a few up high in a Sycamore tree at the edge of the marsh...
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:39 PM   #5
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And here are a few at a much lower perch - a broken Boneset stem right in the middle of the biggest Jewelweed patch...
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:41 PM   #6
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There's a cold front moving through this evening, which may put a damper on the hummingbird activity for a while. But am hoping for some more spare time soon to check out these amazing creatures, and try to improve my hummer photo techniques. Would be very please for any suggestions, as well as critique!
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 7:46 PM   #7
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Mole, these are amazing! And you say you've never tried to photograph hummers before? Remarkable.

This is entirely a case of personal preference, but I might suggest some minor levels adjustments to a few of them, to give a bit more contrast and "pop" to the photos.
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 8:05 PM   #8
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MtnMan - Thanks for your kind words. They are indeed remarkable creatures, and I hope to spend more time watching them before they head south.

Thanks also for your PP suggestion. Which ones do you think need the most level adjustments?
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:06 PM   #9
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Here's a very quick, less than 5 minute tweak to the 3rd photo from your 5th page. As I said it's a personal preference thing, but I like it with a bit more contrast.

But before anyone can begin tweaking a photo, you must have a worthwhile photo in the first place. And you have an abundance of worthwhile photos!
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Old Sep 15, 2011, 9:34 PM   #10
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These are great shots. I enjoyed them all -- thanks for sharing. My favorite is the 5th one down from the top -- the straight on shot of the bird. Great capture.
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