Photos By Meta - How To Shoot Hummingbird Photography
Photos By Meta - How To Shoot Hummingbirds
Hummingbird Camera Setup – 3 Low Power Flashes

The Best Hummingbird Photography Methods for Beginners

Meta’s Mountain Hummingbird Photography is a combination of High Speed Photography and Macro Photography. Meta uses her Fastest Prime Lens, her Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 Lens, with its short 45cm Minimum Focal Length, positioned about 3/4 Meters away from the Hummingbird Feeder. This Hummingbird Camera Setup works very well!

Camouflaged Hummingbird Photography – (Photo: Left) Meta’s Sony Digital Camera and Fast Prime Lens are both camouflaged with a small Mossy Oak LensCoat RainCoat to Protect the Digital Camera and Lens from Bird Droppings. The Tripod Legs are further camouflaged with a XXL Mossy Oak Long Sleeve Shirt. Meta connects her Intervalometer to the Sony Digital Camera using two 5 Meter Extension Cables and sits far back.

Photos By Meta - Sony HVL-F43M Flashes
Hummingbird Photography Camera and Flash Setup
Hummingbird Photography Camera and Flash Setup – (Photo: Left) Meta uses 3 Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to Shoot Hummingbirds. She mounts the Controller Flash on top of her Sony a77 II Digital Camera, rotated 8° down, and then mounts the 2 Remote Flashes on either side of the Hummingbird Feeder on Lightweight Tripod Stands. The 3 Sony HVL-F43M Flashes are set to High Speed Sync Mode, Full Power, M Zoom: 50mm.

Sony HVL-F43 Flash Manual

Hummingbird Photography Methods – Meta has tried these 3 different Hummingbird Photography Methods for Shooting Hummingbirds. The High Speed Sync Method and the Low Power Flash Methods work the best, because Hummingbird feathers are iridescent and glow beautiful bright colors when lit by the Flashes (Photo: Top Left and Top Center).

1) High Speed Sync Method (Best) – (Hummingbird Bird Photo: Top Left) This will fire the Multiple Sony Camera Flashes at any desired Camera Shutter Speed, up to 1,8000th of a second. The Flash is no longer restricted to its native flash speed of 1/250th of a second. When using Multiple Flashes, Shoot in the Shade, not in Direct Sunlight. Early Morning is the best. This method requires 3 Sony HVL-F43M Flashes, which support High Speed Sync Mode. The Flash is automatically set to High Speed Sync when the shutter speed is set faster than flash sync speed.

2) Low Power Flash Method (Better) – (Hummingbird Bird Photo: Top Center) If your Camera Flashes don’t support High Speed Sync Mode, reduce the Flash’s Power down to 1/16 Power, which should fire the flash at about 1/10,000th of a second. Shoot at 1/250th of a second at f/8. The High Speed of the Multiple Flashes is fast enough to freeze the Hummingbird’s Wings. When using Multiple Low Power Flashes, Shoot in the Shade, not in Direct Sunlight. Early Morning is the best.

3) High Shutter Speed Method (Good) – (Hummingbird Bird Photo: Top Right) If you don’t have Multiple Camera Flashes, you can still get good results in Direct Sunlight, using the Digital Camera’s High Speed Shutter of 1,8000th of a second. Shoot at f/1.4 to f/2.8 using a Fast Prime Lens, such as the Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4 Lens. This method is a little more difficult, because Hummingbirds are not active around noon when the sun is the brightest and directly overhead. Also try using the Built-In Flash set to 1/16 Power Radio.

View Meta’s Hummingbird Photos

Photos By Meta - How to Photography Hummingbirds
Hummingbird Photography – 1/8000th of a Second

How to Attract Hummingbirds – Which Plants Attract Hummingbirds

Meta’s Hummingbirds show up every year on her front pouch on or around April 15th. A few days before they arrive, Meta hangs up two Perky Pet Red Glass Hummingbird Feeders. The Red Glass attracts the Hummingbirds the best, without harmful red dye.

Meta lives high up at 3,800’ elevation in the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, on the northeast side of a mountain, which is seasonably cool and shady.

Meta plants shade loving Fuchsia “Gartenmeister Bonstedt” on her front porch, along with other Fuchsias. In her Shady Mountain Side Garden, she plants Native Mountain Huckleberry Bushes, Milkweed and Red Bee Balm to attract Hummingbirds.

Photos By Meta - How to Photography Hummingbirds
Hummingbird Photography – High Speed Sync

The Best Time to Photograph Hummingbirds

Meta’s Blue Ridge Mountains Hummingbirds are very active early in the mornings, starting about 1/2 hour before sunrise to about 10 AM, then they seem to disappear for the rest of the day. They return in the early evening around 6PM to about sunset. This is The Best Time to Photograph Hummingbirds.

Meta’s No Boil – No Mess – Clear Hummingbird Nectar – Take a 1 Liter of bottle of Spring Water. Pour out 200ml (drink it). Fill up the 1 Liter bottle to the top with Quick Dissolve Superfine Sugar. Shake well and Store in the Fridge for up to 1 week. This is enough Clear Hummingbird Nectar to fill her two 8 oz. Perky Pet Red Glass Hummingbird Feeders twice a week. No Harmful Red Dye should ever be used.

The Best Hummingbird Feeders For Hummingbird Photography

Perky Pet Red Glass Hummingbird Feeder – For Hummingbird Photography Only, Meta modifies a Perky Pet Red Glass Hummingbird Feeder (Photo: Left) by blocking 3 of the 4 feeding tubes with 1/4” Rubber ClosetMaid End Caps, so the Hummingbirds can only feed on 1 feeding tube, exactly where her Digital Camera is focused on.

Hummingbird Feeder Cleaning – Meta discovered a Baby Bottle Brush with Nipple Cleaner that works the best for Cleaning Hummingbird Feeders. This Bottle Brush has a small Nipple Cleaner Brush built into the the handle, which fits into the four Hummingbird Feeder Tubes for scrubbing. Remember to clean the Hummingbird Feeders every 3 to 4 Days. Mold buildup can kill Hummingbirds!

Meta’s Best Digital Camera Settings for Hummingbird Photography

Camera: Sony a77 II Digital Camera
Lens: Minolta AF 50mm f/1.4
Camera Mode: Manual Mode
Tripod: Intervalometer on a Sturdy Tripod with two 5 Meter Extension Cables
Focus: Manual Focus where the Hummingbird Stages at the Hummingbird Feeder
ISO: Auto (Maximum Range limited to ISO 400)
Shutter: 1/8000th of a second for High Speed Sync
Aperture: f/1.4 to f/4.0 (Watch your Depth of Field)
Drive Mode: Continuous Shooting: Hi
Flash Power: Full Power when using High Speed Sync or 1/16th Power without

Meta’s Hummingbird Photography Field Kit

Meta’s Hummingbird Photography Field Kit attaches to the back of her Camera Bag. She carries 3 Sony HVL-F43M Flashes on her Camera Belt, inside 3 Flash Pouches. This Modular Configuration is used only for her Hummingbird Photography and contains:
• 1 Intervalometer – To Manually Trigger the Camera
• 2 5 Meter Extension Cables – Extended to Sit Back 10 Meters
• 1 LensCoat RainCoat – To Protect Camera and Lens from Bird Droppings
• 3 Sony HVL-F43M Flashes – One on Camera – Two on Flash Stands
• 2 Lightweight Tripods – Use as Remote Flash Stands
• 8 Lithium AA Batteries – Stored in each Flash Pouch
• 2 Lithium AAA Batteries – For Wired Remote Control (Not Needed in Manual Mode)

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Boone NC Commercial and Nature Photographers
PO Box 1571
Blowing Rock, NC 28605
1-828-265-2730
Monday – Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM (Eastern)

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Photos By Meta - Boone NC Commercial Photographers and Nature Photographers

Photos By Meta

Meta Gätschenberger is an Award Winning Photographer from Blowing Rock, NC. Visit Meta’s Photo Gallery at Photos by Meta.


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Meta is trying to replace her original Sony a77 II Digital Camera which
blew over on a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook and was totally destroyed
in the fall. A used replacement Sony a77 II Digital Camera costs $848.
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