When my wonderful wife gave me hummingbird feeder last spring for a little birthday gift, I immediately had dreams of capturing this image below. This is the best shot of the 2,000 frames I've still got left on my hard disk that I captured this past autumn of the Anna's hummingbirds that frequented our feeder. I just got around to choosing the best image that included the male's magnificent and iridescent gorget and just processed the photo this past weekend. The male's gorget looks like velvet from most angles, but when he looks right at you or in the right light, his gorget explodes in magenta glory. This color is not faked, though a little saturation was used in post. I had to bring the rest of the colors up in saturation a lot more to match that of the gorget in post processing. But let me assure you, this color will "wow" you when you witness it up close for yourself.
This shot took a lot of commitment, persistence and luck too. Since setting up the feeder in the fall, I have washed it and refilled it weekly with fresh, home made syrup (simply 4 parts water to 1 part sugar saturated with heat on the stove, no food coloring which is damaging to the hummingbird's health). I spent many pleasant autumn afternoons waiting patiently near the feeder, being as still as I could, waiting for a willing model to come to feed and hover (or pose) for me. For all of the twenty hours or so I spent waiting and the thousands of frames I captured, this below photo is my favorite single frame that includes a razor sharp eye, the gorget showing nearly complete iridescent color, and all with a pleasing out of focus background of autumn color (maple trees a full block away down my street). Note that the hues of the maple color in the background was changed a little to allow the bird to stand out more and give a little more variation in the color of the photo. Even for the time I committed to trying to get this one shot, no others of the thousands of frames captured came nearly as close to including all these elements that I was hoping for. Even with the commitment I put into getting this shot, I was still very lucky on this particular frame.
For the technical details, this photo was taken on an overcast early November afternoon, using my Canon 5D MkIII body with my trusty 400mm f/5.6 L prime lens, and my full kit of Kenko extension (73mm in total) tubes between my camera's body and the lens, to allow for a closer minimum focus with this tiny little subject. I used no flash, instead brightening the eye and bring out the shadows on the bird in processing. I used the following camera settings; 1/250 second shutter speed, f/5.6 aperture, ISO 2,500. Even if I wasn't fortunate enough to capture this frame, I truly enjoyed the time watching these little guys feed, watch the street for predators and rival hummingbirds, and even battle each other and stake their territory. Hopefully there will be some new little hummingbirds I will be able to photograph at the feeder this spring from the family that visited much of the fall and winter! I've got a hunch!