View Full Version : First Hummingbird of 2014

Mike Bons
05-23-2014, 06:53 PM
These 2 images were taken with my typical multi-flash setup, however I had set them up on a wireless trigger using triggertraps wifi mode. So my 4 year old, Grayden, sat inside with me, free of the bugs which just about carry you away, and spent some time with my 1 year old as well. Grayden was just instructed to hit the "big red button" as soon as the hummingbird was feeding on the flower. After 189 pictures, here are a couple of my favourites.

Male ruby-throated hummingbird


Female Ruby-throated hummingbird (if you look close you can see that she has been busy building as nest as there is some spider webbing hanging off the bottom of her mandible (bill) near the base.


05-23-2014, 07:33 PM
Simply awesome

05-24-2014, 09:31 AM
These are wonderful Mike - thx for sharing them.

As inspiration to newer guests and members again, could you describe your setup once more - (or copy paste it).


Mike Bons
05-24-2014, 12:05 PM
These are wonderful Mike - thx for sharing them.

As inspiration to newer guests and members again, could you describe your setup once more - (or copy paste it).


Thanks RB and Marko.

I need to do a proper setup instructional on this or at least do an intrustructional video one of these days, but here is a quick run through.

There are mainly 2 ways to get hummingbird shots. One is the typical way of using ambient light (and some may even use a little fill flash) and the other way is to do a multi-flash setup where only the flash contributes the exposure. The latter is the one I will be talking about.

Equipment I use:
Camera (Canon 5D, 6D, or 7D doesnt really matter what you have other that for the purposes of this, you should take note of what the max sync speed is for you particular camera)
Canon 400mm F/5.6L
Canon 1.4xII teleconverter
4 flash units - 2 canon 430exII and 2 yongnuo flashes but I can't rememeber the model number but its pretty much as cheap as you can get.
3 light stands
1 flash clamp
3 Yongnuo's 622c wireless flash triggers. 1 on the camera as the transmitter and 2 on the canon flashes (the Yonguo flash have a built in optical trigger so they go off when the Canon goes off)
For this image I used triggertraps mobile app which allows me to wireless trigger the camera. I usually dont use this but the bugs were bad on the deck and it allowed me to get my 4 year old son involved in it. I would usually just sit on the deck and use a cable release.
1 syringe that will hold sugar water.
Background - I usually just use a piece of letter sized matte paper that I have printed some out of focus foliage on. The bigger the paper the easier it will be.

Physical Setup:

Assuming you have a hummingbird feeder hanging that has hummingbirds coming to it, remove the feeder and subsitute a flower. In the flower place, take you syringe and insert some sugar water.
I place 1 flash to the left of the flower and 1 to the right, almost at 45degress at the same height as the flower bloom. I place 1 flash above the flower and 1 flash to light the background.
All flashes are approx 2.5-3 feet away from the subject.

Camera setup:

I will share values that I commonly use but you can vary them a little.
Camera settings: WB = Flash, F/16, ISO 640, SS max sync speed. So for my 6D its 1/180, 7D 1/250 and 5D its 1/200. However, if you are using wireless flash trigger be aware of their max sync as it maybe less than the cameras.
Flash setting: 1/32 power. This is one of the most important points because it is the flash duration that is stopping the motion, not the shutter! So at 1/32 power the flash duration is about 1/12000. Make sure that you have no ambient light that is contributing to the exposure and when using different flash units make sure that they have approx the same flash duration or you will get ghosting. If you want to vary the "strength" of the flash change the distance between the flash and the subject, dont change the power setting.
Maually focus the lens on the middle of the flower (or where you anticipate the hummingbird to be)
Always let the hummingbird come in and taste the sugar water before taking that first picture. Once they know its there, fire away.

Other notes:
Some flower will be easier to use. Canna Lily's, honeysuckle, cardinal flowers, trumpet vine are all easy to use due to hummingbird preference and its easy to put some sugar water in all of them.
If using a more difficult flower it may be best to start with and easy flower and then progress to the difficult flower in the same session. I have found they can get frustrating when using certain flowers and wont even try to feed to see if there is any nectar in there.
Most of the time these setup will be done in the early morning or evening so that the ambient light is lower. As well the hummingbird will be feeding more heavily during these times.
You cameras sensor and your lenses focal length and minimum focal distance will all be variables in the distances that you will want to use between you camera, flower/bird and background. The narrower the field of view, the easier it if to control lighting you background.

For more pictures that I have done using this setup you can visit my hummingbird gallery on my website: Michael Bons Photography | Hummingbirds (http://www.mikebons.com/p1019974167)

05-24-2014, 05:05 PM
Perfect DOF, excellent detail and wonderful colour. :thumbup::thumbup:

05-25-2014, 08:25 PM
You have def mastered the art of Hummer pics Mike. Amazingly detailed as usual.

05-26-2014, 12:35 AM
Photos are great, but I really enjoyed reading your set up description. Thinking "I could do that" along the way. Thanks for posting it.

05-26-2014, 09:02 AM
Thanks for taking the time to write all that out and sharing the recipe again mike.

05-26-2014, 01:13 PM
Very nice indeed! Thanks for sharing the setup details.

05-28-2014, 04:25 AM
Stunning as always and thanks for the lesson.

Mike Bons
05-29-2014, 03:12 PM
Photos are great, but I really enjoyed reading your set up description. Thinking "I could do that" along the way. Thanks for posting it.

Of course you can do it! It usually takes me about 30min to get set up. There is a fair bit of equipment and then testing for a few minutes. Watching your shadows is one of the biggest challenges. However, once its setup and the hummingbirds are coming in, I usually just enjoy the evening sitting on my deck and having a drink, all while taking these pictures. :)

Thanks everyone for your comments! If anyone wants to try this setup and has any questions feel free to post them or PM me.

06-04-2014, 09:27 PM
As usual awesome shots. Thanks for posting your setup as well.

06-05-2014, 05:42 PM
Wow. I really don't know what else to say. Those are incredible.