Advanced Hummingbird Photography with High Speed Flash
This workshop is the next step in hummingbird photography, once a student has completed a Hummingbird Photography with High Speed Flash class. It will educate the student how to create images of hummingbirds in a completely natural environment, including foliage. It will demonstrate and exploit advanced lighting techniques that will produce images of hummers that really ‘pop’, along with utilizing foliage in each image. There will probably be opportunity for capturing images of hummers actually feeding at flowers.
Workshop Size and Duration
This workshop is for one student at a time. Yes, that’s right – you will get 1:1 tuition for the entire session. I do this so that each student will maximise their opportunity to capture truly stunning images. As described below, the number of ‘keeper’ images will probably be reduced from the previous class, principally due to focus issues. These ‘keepers’ however, will be images that will rank among the best on the planet in terms of quality and natural appearance. The duration of the session will be around 3 hours – or until it gets too dark to shoot if the student wishes to maximise his/her time.
The setup will be an advanced version of Setups 1-4 from the first class. It will contain foliage for an even more natural setting, advanced lighting and perhaps even will enable some shots of hummers feeding from flowers. Please note that the advanced setup will only be available to students who have already completed a Hummingbird photography with High Speed Flash Workshop, and are return customers. The reason for this is simple: Hummingbirds are difficult to photograph, because they are small, fast, and elusive. The goal of each students’ first workshop is to learn how to track, focus and shoot hummers with high speed flash, filling the frame as much as possible. It is a technique that has to be developed and practiced. As such, the first workshop setups do not have any props, foliage that could possibly attract the attention of your autofocus system! It only sees the hummingbird in the frame, and gives the student the best possible opportunity of capturing sharply focused pics. Rest assured, these pics will be fabulous. When foliage is introduced, to produce a more natural setting, the flowers and leaves act as ‘magnets’ for your autofocus. Locking onto a fast, tiny bird in amongst all that is very challenging. I would estimate that my own ‘hit rate’ for keepers in an advanced setup is perhaps 1/20th of that for the simpler setup, so be warned!
What Each Student Takes Away:
Students will leave with a number of well exposed images of hummingbirds in their natural environment, plus the knowledge of how to achieve lighting that goes way beyond that learned in the first class.
As the advanced setup is much more complex and challenging, I cannot guarantee that each student will come away with perfectly focused images. (I cannot control that). They will however leave with the knowledge of how to set up completely differentiated lighting and setups that will enable them to produce hummingbird images that will rival those of any professional photographer on the planet. Including me. I keep no secrets.
I supply bottled water and sodas. Students are welcome to wander around the lawns of my property, but for insurance reasons, students are only permitted in my office/lab, which is above the garage. It has a full bathroom for bio breaks. I suggest a hat, bug repellent for the occasional mosquito, sunscreen and perhaps something to wear if the temperature plummets, which it can do when the sun goes down.
What Gear to Bring:
You will need a DSLR, memory card(s) and the longest lens(es) you have. If you have teleconverters, bring them too, as well as extension tubes. A 200mm (35mm equivalent) lens is really the minimum focal length I would recommend, as hummingbirds are very, very tiny! The more mega-pixels you have, the more you can crop the final image, but 200mm also offers about the minimum usable working distance for the birds not to get spooked. Make sure you have fresh batteries, as you might be rattling off many frames! You may wish to bring a tripod for shooting hummers, though I personally handhold for them. I will provide a Gitzo 410 with an Arca Swiss Monoball for the hide. I also have a Wimberly Sidekick which converts the Monoball into a gimbal head, which is useful for long lenses with tripod collars. If you are to use my tripod, you will have to have an Arca-Swiss type Quick Release plate on your lens or camera. Elsewise, bring your own tripod. (If you don’t have a QR plate, or your own tripod, let me know and I can supply a standard tripod).
What Gear I Supply:
I supply all flash gear for the high speed flash setups. I supply all the setups themselves, chairs etc. I supply PocketWizard radio slaves for the high speed setups ( I will guide you through how to use these – they are very simple, and provide reliable wireless flash trigger performance). I will provide instruction via presentation on a large computer screen in my lab/office, and then will roam each setup continually to ensure students are prepared to capture great images.
I prefer to have the sessions during the week, however I realize this is not possible for most people. As these particular workshops will be 1:1, we can work toward a mutually beneficial timeslot. Best to contact me so we can work something out.
Year round, we have Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna) and Allen’s Hummingbirds (Selasphorus sasin). From early Spring, the migratory birds start to come through, and include Black-Chinned, (Archilochus alexandri), Rufous (Rufus) (Selasphorus rufus), Calliope (Stellula calliope) and Costa’s (Calypte costae). One season there was even a male Blue-Throated (Lampornis clemenciae), but he was injured, and obviously way off course. It should be noted that the difference between Rufous and Allen’s hummingbirds is difficult to distinguish in the field. (Coloring has very little to do with hummingbird taxonomy, so ‘green on the back’ does not necessarily make it an Allens!). Of course I cannot promise you will see all of these species, however the Anna’s and Rufous/Allen’s are prevalent.
I live in a house which is very high up a hillside and when the wind is really blowing, the hummers tend to stay away. While the really strong winds of the season have (at last) abated, there may be times when it will prevent reasonable shooting. I will let everyone know as soon as is practicable, and we will organize an alternative date. I want everyone to have the best chance at capturing some great images!
If you would prefer to use my personal gear for the session, I rent out my 100-400mm (Canon) lens for $45 and my Canon 7D for $45 or $70 for both, per session. You will need to supply your own CF Flash memory card(s).