Bird Pictures How to Take Great Pictures

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In the world of bird photography, the hummingbird is certainly one of the most challenging to photograph. This jeweled bundle of energy has the ability to zoom around at record breaking speeds causing frustration for many a photographer. This article is written to help give you some tips so you can take better hummingbird pictures.

Setting out the Welcome Mat

Most places in North America are visited by hummingbirds, some year round, others seasonally. Just ask your local Audubon Society on when you should put out your hummingbird feeders. You can also find out if the hummingbirds in your area migrate so you can remove the feeders in time for the hummingbirds to migrate and avoid freezing in the cold.

Every serious hummingbird photographer needs to have a good hummingbird feeder. The things you want to look for with feeders is that they are easy to clean and that they are filled with a solution of sugar water.

Most birders advise 4 parts water to 1 part sugar however some recommend using a 3:1 mixture. Keep the feeders filled so that the hummingbirds don't head to a more reliable nectar station. Don't forget to remove the feeders regularly for cleaning and then put them right back up. Also never use food coloring because it can cause dangerous growth on the hummingbirds beaks and it's not needed to attract them.

Feeders, Perches and Flowers

One of the biggest challenges with photographing hummingbirds is that they rarely sit still. They are almost constantly darting here and there. Many photographers try following the hummingbirds (with camera in hand) in the hopes of getting a shot. However, don't do that as it is best staying in one position and being patient.

You want to consider the type of pictures you want, and then set things up to increase your chances of getting these photos. After you're all set up, all you have to do is have your camera ready and get comfortable. Many photographers use tripods or mono-pods so the camera's always ready. Some photographers use blinds so they can move without worrying about scaring off a hummingbird.

If you want pictures of the hummingbirds hovering, you'll need to remove the perches from your hummingbird feeder. And if you plug all the holes but one it will be easier to get a pictures of one hummingbird at a time. You'll still have the ones that are zipping around trying to get the one at the feeder to move on, but that will happen regardless.

Now if you want to take pictures of hummingbirds perching, watch where the dominant male goes after he fills up at the feeder. Usually, hummingbirds will perch where they have a good view of the feeder. And if the perch isn't a good location for you to get photos, do some rearranging. Move the feeder closer to a perch that works for you.

Or move it farther from the natural perches and add a perch near it in a photo friendly location. As long as the hummingbird can keep a watchful eye for predators, it won't mind relocating. The hummingbirds will get used to you and your camera eventually but movement will likely frighten them off, so don't set things up in an area of the yard that gets much activity.

If you have a beautiful flower that the hummingbirds never visit (and would make a great photo), try using an eye dropper and gently fill the flower with some sugar water. This only works for a short time because the flower will begin to wilt after just a few hours.

As with feeders and perches, you can also hang a basket of flowers to help attract them for photographing. Regardless of what type of "feeder" your hummingbird uses, you will still have less than 8 seconds to take your picture. Still, it pays to be patient and not press the shutter until after the hummer's had a sip of nectar. Otherwise if the flash frightens them off, they won't have as much incentive to venture back.

Background Check

The best type of background for taking hummingbird pictures is something dark green that doesn't have any noticeable distractions like branches or twigs. If you want a mobile background try a dark green potted plant or a painted poster board. The best thing you can have is a dark background so the hummingbirds bright colors can really stand out.

Hummingbird photos in Google Images will give a good idea of what type of backgrounds work and don't work. Note how brilliantly colored hummingbirds fade into some backgrounds, like the bright green, sun lit trees and shrubs. A shaded area behind the feeder or perch also works well as a good background.

You can use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop Elements, to blur the background and make the hummingbird stand out from the background.
You can also find tutorials on this on websites like Adobe.

Lights - Camera - Action

After you have things set up it's just a matter of finding a nice, comfy place to sit nearby with your tripod and camera. To freeze the motion of their wings, you'll need a high speed flash, but you can still use these tips to get some really nice photos with even a decent compact camera.

Remember, hummingbirds may be the most challenging subject in bird photography, but with some patience you will soon have a nice collection of hummingbird photography to frame and display in your home 

Autumn Lockwood loves taking pictures and is a writer for Your Picture Frames. Your Picture Frames offers an enormous selection of picture frames in all sizes, shapes and colors. Shop online and see our selection of big wood and metal frames and small sized photo frames. Visit our website or call us at 1-800-780-0699.

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