Flight Photos

Late Afternoon Flight
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Late Afternoon Flight

On an afternoon walk at the beach recently we noticed this hummingbird who seemed to be contemplating the sinking late afternoon sun. It took a little manuvering, but I was able to get a few silhouette shots just as he took flight. This is a double exposure of two successive frames. In the first frame he had released his grip on the perch and spread his wings, but not actually taken flight yet. Only one sixth of a second later he was moving fast. Fast enough to leave me staring into the glare of the sun with no idea where he'd gone after that.


Shoreline Bluff
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Shoreline Bluff

Just after sunset the colors are beautiful this time of year. This is looking east from Shoreline Park, one of the best places in town for a nice evening walk.


Skimming Pelican
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Skimming Pelican

Have you ever seen a Pelican surf? On the land they seem a little comical, but in the air they are amazing. They often fly right along the surface of the water taking advantage of "Ground Effect" an aerodynamic effect giving more lift in close proximity to the surface. It makes sense that they would do this to save energy, but at times they move closer to the breakers, riding the front of the wave just like a surfer. They wait until the last moment to slip gracefully over the top of the wave as it crashes below all gliding without a flap. This evening I caught this guy skimming the surface, but as he slowly flapped he actually ran the tip of his wing through the surface of the water just like a surfer playing in the front of the wave with his or her hand. He wasn't being as playful as some in the breakers but he was very graceful and relaxed. It was a pleasure to watch him and his friends fly off into the sunset.


Annas in Flight
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Annas in Flight

This is another shot of one of the beautiful Anna's hummingbirds I was following around Valley Hills Nursery in Carmel. It looks like a beautiful spring day, but a beautiful nursery can make any day look like a beautiful spring day in California.


Thoughtful Hummer
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Thoughtful Hummer

This little guy was actually as interested in me as I was in him. He flew around a bit and kept coming back to this spot. As I moved closer and closer every few shots, he would tilt his head back and forth seemingly trying to see what I was up to. Even at rest he was graceful and beautiful.


Nectar Sample
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Nectar Sample

This is another shot of my friend from the Carmel Nursery. This is after he got bored with me. He watched me for a while, tilting his head back and forth, and when he decided I was safe or maybe not very interesting, he decided to make the rounds to his favorite flowers. He was so graceful as he hovered from flower to flower.


Taking Flight
Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Taking Flight

This weekend between rainstorms, I had the great pleasure of wandering around a beautiful nursery in Carmel California. Valley Hills Nursery is one of my favorite spots to visit when I'm in the area, and not only for thier plants. They always have a very friendly Hummingbird population, this weekend they seemed to be even more cooperative than usual. This beauty was actually almost hamming it up for me, he seemed as curious about me as I was about him.


Elevated Wharf View
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Elevated Wharf View

One more elevated view of Stearns Wharf. I really liked this spot, but the wind was really picking up so it made me a little nervous to have the camera suspended high above the water. But I'll be back to this spot again in the near future.


Santa Barbara View from Stearns Wharf
Friday, October 19, 2012
Santa Barbara View from Stearns Wharf

Recently I had a request for a cover shot that showed a view of Santa Barbara from Stearns Wharf. I have quite a few Stearns Wharf shots but the client was looking for a daytime shot, and most of my wanderings on the Wharf have been in the evening. This was one of the first shots after I raised the camera in this spot, the sea gull was really interested in the camera. I think he was planning on landing on it. He only thought better of it at the very last second.


Cleared for Landing
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Cleared for Landing

Sometimes I have to chase them forever to get the shot I want. But this one was very cooperative. I got quite a few nice shots It's always nice to work with good models.


Mimosa Hummer
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Mimosa Hummer

Last week we had the pleasure of exploring some beautiful nurseries in Carmel Valley near Monterey. It was a great place to chase hummers.


Hummer in Flight
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Hummer in Flight

She just hovered there for a while. I think she was as interested in checking me out as I was interested in her. She did not seem scared. (It probably did not hurt that there were about 20 other hummingbirds around and I had not eaten any of them yet.) She sat and ate casually after she was done looking at me. I'm glad she stopped though, it made for a much nicer shot.


Hovering Hummer
Friday, June 15, 2007
Hovering Hummer

I have been chasing the hummingbirds around here for the last two weeks. Trying to get them comfortable with me and my camera. Today this one came to me. She decided to have dinner at our backyard feeder. Fortunately this was her second helping, so I had my camera all ready when she showed up.


Armored Bee
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Armored Bee

Well my description was not quite as scientific as I usually like... "Big Black Bee!" But it's late and I was not able to track her down. I did have fun taking pictures of her though! Her copper colored wings were reflecting the evening sun beautifully! I was trying to get a shot that really hilted the wings and their amazing structure but this ended up being my favorite.


Sunset Dinner Flight
Friday, June 1, 2007
Sunset Dinner Flight

The hummers have gone wild around here lately. We have three feeders up, but it is a little hard to compete with all the flowers. There are actually three birds that fight over this bush regularly. Even though the bush has plenty to go around.


Egret in Flight
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Egret in Flight

This image was taken at the same time as the happy seals. The seals were just to the left of this guy. It was a fun day to be out with my camera!


Anna
Saturday, September 9, 2006
Anna

We when to a beautiful place in Carpinteria today called Seaside Gardens. Seaside Gardens is a nursery and botanic garden. They had some amazing plants. And it was a hummingbirds' paradise.

One of the things I liked about the Gardens is they had the plants separated by country of origin, both in the sales area and the nicely designed botanic gardens.

So, if you are in the area and you find yourself in need of a Lotus for your Koi pond or anything else remotely exotic just get off the 101 at Exit 88 (Padero Lane or Santa Claus Lane) go toward the mountains and turn right. Seaside Gardens will be on your left.


Hovering Bee
Monday, July 31, 2006
Hovering Bee

She's been busy! I am surprised she can still fly with all that pollen on her legs.


Serendipity
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Serendipity

It is really interesting to me to see the motion in this shot. The bee is actually leaning into the turn like a bike rider.

I was framing up the shot of the flower when the bee flew in from the left. She made a beautiful arc into the photo and I hit the shutter release as many times as I could!


Costa's Lunchtime
Saturday, October 8, 2005
Costa's Lunchtime

This is one of the higher speed shots I have taken of the hummers in the Palm Springs area. I usually take a slower shot that shows more motion in the wings, but it is nice to try a variety of things. The shutter speed was actually not that fast, it was helped out buy the fact that I just happened to hit the shutter at the top of his wing sweep.

This guy has some amazing throat feathers that stick out on the sides.

I get a lot of questions about my hummingbird shots...

  • How fast was the shutter speed?
    Actually, relatively slow. 60th to 250th of a second. And, it is not usually the shutter that freezes the motion of their wings. Normally a high speed strobe is used which can go down to as little as a millionth of a second because it does not depend upon the mechanics of moving a shutter.

    Some commercial shots are even staged with a high speed strobe and camera outfitted with an infrared trigger. The trigger fires the shutter (and the camera fires the strobe) when something breaks the beam in front of the camera. Cool use of technology, but if you depend upon the technology completely you will get a very clinical image that does not look at all life-like.

    I don't use a strobe for two reasons. I think the resulting photos look too clinical and just like any other bird and, I don't have one. :-D
  • You must have an impressive lens, what kind is it?
    Most of my hummers are shot with an average Canon 70-200mm zoom lens. I am just very patient when it comes to watching these guys, I have spent over an hour at times to let them get comfortable with me.
  • Did you use a tripod? Did you set up the shot in advance?
    Nope, with very few exceptions these are handheld shots taken while wandering around where the hummers frequent. I like the freedom to move around and get exactly what I want.


Fly-thru
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Fly-thru

There have been some really important people interested in my hummingbirds at the shows lately. :) (see yesterday's post) So I decided to look through some of the images I still have tucked away. This was one of the first ones that jumped out at me.

The one in flight is exactly what I love to capture when I am chasing hummers. His face is sharp and his beak, but you can still see the movement of flight. And, the guy on the feeder looks like he is conducting an orchestra.

Many of the hummingbird shots you see are done with a strobe, a very fast flash. A strobe freezes the action and you do not have to depend upon the speed of the camera's shutter. The best cameras these days reach their limits at around 1/8000th of a second, my AE-1 goes down to 1/1000th. This image was taken between 1/100th and 1/250th of a second. Extremely high speed strobes can go down to a millionth of a second, because they do not depend upon mechanics like shutters.

Unfortunately strobe images come out looking a little clinical for my tastes. But then again, they are all just tools it really depends upon how you use them.


Hummers
Monday, July 18, 2005
Hummers

The top hummingbird is actually the same bird as in this photo. She was hovering around the feeder for quite a while checking out the strange creature with the 200mm nose.


Hummingbird Tongue
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Hummingbird Tongue

I like the motion in this photo. I am not particularly fond of the frozen hummingbird photos you see in calendars and other places. They use a fast strobe to freeze all the action and it makes them look like stuffed animals.

This girl was just finished eating. She leapt from the feeder with her tongue still sticking out. They seem to like to lick their beak after eating, they are a lot of fun to watch.