Over the past couple weeks I have spent several relaxing yet frustrating hours trying to capture decent images of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds in our backyard. Taking pictures of Hummingbirds can be quite a challenge. They are flighty little critters and seem to be quite protective when it comes to other Hummingbirds trying to move in on their feeders. It's actually quite amusing because there are lots of feeders on our back deck but they still are greedy little birds and just don't like sharing. They will chase each other time after time and as a result nobody gets to eat. Makes no sense to me!
Hummingbirds are amazing though. They are amazingly fast in flight. When I tried to use a flash, they actually out ran my shutter when they saw the bright flash. I did manage to get some decent pictures in flight without the flash and was able to stop their beating wings. I was pretty pleased but of course still wanted more pictures. Today I decided to go for more detail and capture images when they were not in flight. I set up the camera on my tripod and attached the wireless remote and waited patiently. They didn't keep me waiting long thankfully. When I was reviewing the images I was rather surprised at what I saw and it prompted me to learn even more about these little birds that weigh in at an amazing 1/8th of an ounce.
The male Ruby Throated Hummingbirds have the beautiful iridescent ruby colored throat while the females do not. Amazingly enough that brilliant ruby throat area can appear very dark colored in certain light. Look at the pictures and you will see what I mean. The same bird is shown with and without the brilliant Ruby Throat. You will also notice a spider web on one of the pictures. This web extends from the beak down toward the throat. Sometimes a Hummingbird will feed off insects that are trapped in spider webs. Did you realize that Hummingbirds have little feet but they can't walk or even hop. They sleep by clutching a branch and at times will swing downwards upside down and continue to sleep.
These tiny birds made me come to a certain realization today. I will be selling my 70-200mm f4 and also my 300mm f4 IS and be purchasing a 70-200 f2.8L IS. To get good pictures of Hummingbirds it a balancing act. You need a large aperture to get rid of a distracting background. You need a fast shutter speed to freeze the action. You also want the lowest ISO for the sharpest image. I believe the f2.8 will be a great lens and I won't have the overlaps in focal lengths.
Take notice that the Ruby color is not brilliant in the picture