In Flight

by Jill Skaggs
(Arnoldsburg, WV USA)

hummingbird in flight

This picture was taken outside my home on 06/25/07. I love taking pictures of hummingbirds, I feed them all summer long.
I wanted to capture the hummingbird wings in the picture so I used 4000 ISO.

Hummingbirds wings can beat at up to an incredible 80 beats per second (depending on the species), and it's this speed that makes them "hum".

This also poses a problem for photographers - how to freeze those rapidly moving wings?

The secret is to use a fast shutter speed - in this case, something measured in thousandths of seconds.

This means the photographer needs to set a wide aperture, and as Jill has done here, a high ISO.

The wide aperture has the added benefit of throwing the background out of focus - this concentrates the viewer on the sharp in-focus bird in the foreground.

(click to read more about understanding exposure (including shutter speed and aperture) and click here for more on film speed (ISO).

The shot looks good, if a little small! Any chance of submitting a larger shot, Jill? (no more than 800x600 pixels though).

The only thing that might be worth a try would be to crop out some of the area to the left of the hummingbird.

Leave the space to the right though, as this is the direction the bird is pointing in. If you crop this side the bird will look as though it is "running out of space" in the frame.


UPDATE: 27th Dec. 2007 - larger image file now added - thanks Jill!

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Jan 02, 2008

Just wanted to add that I think your photo is just lovely.

It must be difficult to photograph birds, especially hummingbirds with such a rapid wing-beat. I think you have done well.

I think "Ed" may be right about cropping out some of the area on the left. I covered part of your photo on my screen with some paper, and I did think it improved it.

I hope I have the opportunity to photo some more exotic wildlife (I live in England), you're so lucky to have these birds around you.

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