- Tips for Photographing Hummingbirds
- Photographing Moments of Crisis to Help Save Lives (Video)
- A Must-See Roadtrip Timelapse of North America (Video)
Posted: 29 Jun 2014 11:37 PM PDT
By and far the easiest way to photograph hummingbirds is to place a hummingbird feeder in our backyard and wait for the little guys to start visiting.
We quickly realize that they have absolutely no compunction about being in close proximity to us. In fact, the hummingbirds that visit my feeder seem to have developed a morning ritual with my cat. Yes, I said cat. But let’s not get into that right now.
Regardless of how comfortable they are around us, they are incredibly difficult to photograph. And many times, when we have gotten a good tight shot of them, it doesn’t look all that appealing in the photograph. So let’s take a look at some ideas for improving our captures of these quick little creatures.
First, since we know where the hummingbirds are going to be, we can do a lot more pre-planning than you would be able to do for other wild creatures. What usually distinguishes the great shots of hummingbirds from the not-so-great ones is the background or surroundings. Another thing about the great shots is their narrow depth-of-field. You may think you are limited by your backyard, but let’s use both of the above properties to our advantage.
I usually use a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for hummingbirds set at 200mm and f/2.8. I focus at a spot next to the feeder under 6 feet away, which results in a very narrow plane of focus. And by hanging a piece of camouflage material a few feet behind the plane of focus, I get the feel of a place in the wilderness. The material is far enough out of focus that you can’t tell it’s fabric, and the camouflage pattern makes it seem like trees and leaves in the background.
Second, as with all wildlife photography, patience is not only a virtue, but a total necessity. We need to dedicate a considerable period of time in order to get even one acceptable shot. After setting up my camera and lens on a tripod and getting it pre-focused on a particular spot near the feeder, I place a chair behind the camera so I can wait in comfort for the next couple of hours. My hummingbird feeder is low enough that once my camera is set up, I can comfortably look in the viewfinder from a small camp chair.
Third, and most important, is lighting. I have experimented extensively with different shutter speeds, trying to get different amounts of motion blur from the hummingbirds’ wings.
My conclusion thus far is you have to freeze their wings. I’m not quite done with this experiment yet, but I do spend more time trying to get that perfect “frozen wing” shot than I do trying to find the perfect shutter speed.
To freeze their wings, you have to use a flash. I use three flashes. The first is in front of the bird and slightly below, which lights their breast nicely, freezes the wings, and gives that pleasant catch light in their eye. The second is placed behind the bird and slightly above, which brings out the colors in their back. I have never been able to capture these colors with any natural lighting; they always look drab and undesirable. But with the flash, those brilliant colors pop right out. The third flash illuminates the background and is adjusted for the balance I want on that particular day.
The two subject flashes are always set to their lowest power setting, giving me an effect exposure of about 1/10,000 of a second. While the shutter speed is set to 1/200 for proper synchronization, the flash duration is what determines the exposure and gives me that floating frozen hummingbird look.
Once I am set up, it is just a matter of sitting there waiting for them to come into my viewfinder. They usually take a while to start feeding on the petal that I have pre-set everything on, but eventually they ignore all the contraptions I have placed around their feeder and use the one that they want to. So it becomes a matter of waiting for them to use the petal I have set-up on and being ready to shoot when they’re in the frame.
My hummingbird shots have improved dramatically since I have started using this technique. I still want to tweak it in an attempt to get better, but what I am getting now is magnitudes of levels better than what I was getting before.
Give it a try, I think you’ll like it.
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Posted: 29 Jun 2014 01:58 PM PDT
Photographer Brent Humphreys and his team recently had the chance to work on a huge photo project for AARP Magazine about crisis moments and how to survive them. The large scale project had them coming up with feasible ways to capture four completely possible—and believable—scary moments. In this behind the scenes video, you can see how the team worked to create life-like photos of an animal attack, a plane crash, a car collision, and a car in water:
The idea for this image was to capture a simulated bear attack. To do this, Humphreys shot a bear (with a camera, the bear was taxidermied, so you know, already dead) in Bastrop State Park in Texas. The team set up their props and equipment, including off-camera lighting and smoke machines, in the forest setting and worked into the night to get the final image.
With a pre-planned description of what was required for the image, Humphreys was able to come up with a dramatic image to portray this terrifying moment using Photoshop.
Again, the crew used the Bastrop location to get this shot of a literal dear in headlights. They set up the deer in front of a Porsche on the country road to make it look like it was about to be struck by the car.
Car in Water
This was the hardest of the shots. Since they didn’t have their own stunt crew and a huge Hollywood budget to let them demolish a car by driving it off a bridge, the photography team took photos of Rowe Valley Bridge in Taylor, Texas on its own and a bunch of photos of a car suspended over a body of water, then merged the two images together. With a few minor adjustments to the car—they installed some strobe units in the headlights and welding a pipe to the bottom to stick in the mud—Humphreys and team were able to hang the car over the water to get the shots they needed.
Go to full article: Photographing Moments of Crisis to Help Save Lives (Video)
Posted: 29 Jun 2014 10:58 AM PDT
Ever wanted to just drop everything, jump in your van, and travel across North America photographing its incredible vistas? Well that's just what timelapse photographer Joel Schat has done. And he has turned out some awesome compilation videos, including this latest demo reel:
Made to be Seen is a compilation covering the last two years of Schat’s travels:
Two years and thousands of miles later, this passion has led him from Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada down to the border of Mexico and the desertscapes of Arizona and New Mexico, and back up again– all the while capturing spectacular mountain tops, canyons, and beaches through the lens of timelapse photography.
For gear, Schat carries with him his Canon 6D and Canon 5D Mark II, a number of Canon lenses (16-35 mm f/2.8, 24-70 mm f/2.8, and a 70-200 mm f/4), a Rokinon 14mm (for stars), and Lee filters. For motion control he uses DP Stage 1 Carbon and DP Stage 0, Emotimo TB3, and his Promote Control.
If you’re curious as to how Joel works his magic, check out A Day In the Life of a Timelapse Photographer.
Go to full article: A Must-See Roadtrip Timelapse of North America (Video)
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