Nick Carver Photography Blog

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Hummingbird Chicks

A little while back, a hummingbird started building a nest just outside the window of my brother's home office. Soon enough, she laid 2 eggs. Soon enough after that, those eggs hatched. Now, those 2 chicks barely fit into the nest.

Hummingbird Chicks
The two nicely-camouflaged chicks wait patiently for mom to return with food.

I went over today with the intention of capturing some shots of the mother bird feeding her young. I'm happy to say it was a success, but there were some barriers to overcome that resulted in images a little lower quality than I'm used to.

First of all, I had to shoot through the window - a dirty window at that. This meant a loss of sharpness and contrast. Next, the light was dim. That meant I'd have to boost the ISO to an uncomfortably high level - 1600 - just to get a shutter of 1/200. And finally, the window prevented me from getting close enough to fill my frame, so I'd have to crop pretty heavily to get the shot I wanted.

All of this ultimately amounted to images that are far grainier than I care for, but I can't complain. This was a rare opportunity to photograph a hummingbird feeding her young...and from the comfort of the indoors where I could shoot the breeze with my brother in between shots.

Hummingbird Feeding Her Young

With a little bit of online research, I'm almost certain this species is the Broad-Tailed Hummingbird (selasphorus platycercus). The coloring matches and it certainly did have a broad tail.


Well, I got some new pictures of hummingbirds for you guys.

...that's right, hummingbirds.

I had a private student this morning in Laguna Beach and during the lesson, he snapped some amazing pictures of hummingbirds while I stood by to lend my expertise. There were tons of them! It was the first sunny day we've had in awhile here in So Cal and I think they were out in droves gorging themselves after fasting through the days of rain.

I had some time to kill after the lesson before my next student's appointment, so I thought I'd try my hand at photographing some hummingbirds myself. I haven't done wildlife in awhile and I definitely don't consider myself a wildlife photographer, but his shots got me all jazzed up to break out the telephoto. One of the perks of being a photography teacher: inspiration from my students.

Best I can tell from some online research, the hummingbirds I had in my sights were Allen's Hummingbirds (selasphorus sasin). The coloring on the males is absolutely stunning. The iridescent copper coloring on their throats glowed like a beacon in the daylight. It would even shift to a rich, red color depending on how the light hit is. Beautiful contrast with the green on their backs and white on their chests.

I thought this above shot was kind of funny with him looking right at me, but it also shows his color the best.

Compare the coloring of the male above to the female below.

Hummingbirds are tough to photograph because they move so quickly. The good thing about them, though, is that they are pretty fearless. I guess knowing you're the fastest gun in the west can make you pretty confident. This fearlessness means I could get pretty damn close to them with my 200mm lens without scaring them off. The auto focus on my 5D (mark I) is pathetic, so I ended up manually focusing for most of the shots. Worked much better than I thought it would...

So there you have it! Thanks for stopping by!