2015—Hummingbird Flowers

Just when I thought this long, hot, and very dry summer was never going to end, I awoke Saturday morning to clouds and actual precipitation that might even have been measurable. It remained cool and cloudy much of the day. The pineapple sage has finally bloomed in the overgrown raised garden bed and I’ve noticed the hummers hovering around the red tubular sage flowers instead of fighting the honey bees for a place to sip at the feeders. Late in the afternoon, I brought Big Bertha outside. The combination of Big Bertha and the gimbal head is still quite a challenge for me so when the male hummer finally flew to the clusters of sage flowers, my shots were all over the place, composition-wise and focus-wise. Controlling the gimbal head precisely is a skill I have yet to master and maintaining focus on a small bird in the midst of leaves and branches that tend to pull the attention of the autofocus mechanism away from what I want to focus on makes this challenge even more difficult. I do use the manual focus override but I’m not yet used to fine tuning focus moving the focus ring with my left hand while coordinating movement of the gimbal head with my right. Despite the obstacles I encountered, I was pleased to see that most of the shots were in focus but in all but one, the composition was way off with the bird and flower in the top third of the frame, and in quite a few with only feathery wingtips and tails showing as the hummer exited the frame.

The one properly composed shot also had good exposure and sharp focus. It needed no cropping. The tip of the hummer’s tongue is even visible. And, it’s a shot of the hummer in flight, hovering at a flower, not at the feeder. I included three other shots I liked, as well, but I had to crop them, using the 16X9 ratio to move the subject away from the top of the frame. I am finally realizing that if I raise the ISO high enough to achieve proper exposure so that the need for post processing is minimal, the resulting noise is also minimal. I took these shots at ISO 4000, f/5.0, 1/800sec. shutter speed.

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