Humming Birds

  A Really Hard Photographic Target

Event Report 20170603

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The Experience

Plenty of places have humming birds and our place in San Diego is no exception.  We have had feeders out for the hummers for years and I think that they have come to depend on the fluids, particularly when the weather is hot and dry.  They are always a joy and a wonder to watch because they are so small and so agile.  But, the size and agility makes them really, REALLY hard targets for good photos.  Usually, you need a fast-focus camera and a long lens to come close to getting a good photo.  But, the advent of modern technology, wifi control in particular, make the task tractable.

Recently, Kathleen got a Fujifilm X-Pro-2 camera.  This camera has many nice features including the ability to tune the focus area and the ability to be triggered remotely via a cell phone with a wifi connection.  Kathleen set up her camera on a tripod next to the feeder and selected the autofocus area to match the locations that the hummers were most likely to be.  And, we stacked the deck by putting masking tape on the other nozzles of the feeder to force them to come to the area we were watching.

Since the Fuji has a very-fast 35mm lens, the approach was simple: put the camera close to the feeder (like 18" or so), set the focus area to match the fly-zone and then retreat into the house.  The wifi allows seeing what the camera sees, albeit a bit lagged, and when a bird comes to feed, remotely trigger the camera.  Easy-peasy.

The photos below are what we saw.

The set of eight or so photos below were taken after Kathleen she addressed a few technical issues with controlling the camera.  This hummer has been busy.  Note the pollen on his head.

Once the birds get in the focus zone, the Fuji does a great job.  While blurred due to body motion, note the green tinge on the feathers on the dorsal side of the thorax.

The feeder is the best bet in bird-town.  Usually full with sugar water, they don't have to work too hard to eat, so they come back again and again.

The bird was not put-off by the presence of the camera.  Indeed, he approached the feeder while we were setting up the camera less that 2 feet away from the feeder.

This hummer came back again and again.

Compare the photo above to the one prior.  The wings beat on both sides of the body as the bird attempts to control its position.

We were quite satisfied with the results of our experiment.

A different bird on a different day.  Note the patch of red feathers to the left of the eyes.

This is yet another hummer: no red spot, but rather a splash of white instead.

This one has red on the throat.

Red bird is back, along with a bee seeking the sugar-water.

Despite the technical challenges, we were both pleased with the photos we got.  We'll keep trying perhaps with a different lens combination.

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Copyright Kathleen Jones 2017.  All rights reserved.