Shutter Speed – A Month of Hummers

Over the course of the last month I have been experimenting with shooting in Shutter Mode – a departure from my beloved and comfortable Aperture Mode style of shooting. You can read about my progress here, here, here, and here.

If you don’t want to bother with clicking all those blue words – here’s my journey in a nutshell:

1. I like to shoot birds and wish I could capture more action shots.

2. Shooting in Aperture Mode focuses on light and not speed, so while I can easily control the depth of field, I miss a lot of that action.

3. Most wildlife photogs shoot in Shutter Mode, because controlling the speed gives you a better chance at stopping motion – this prompted me to get out of my comfort zone and give it a try.

What I have learned in the last month is that great light increases your camera’s ability to get you great results, and that you need to know the limits of your camera’s ability to handle lower light with higher ISO settings. ISO is crucial in allowing more light in when you increase shutter speeds even in sunlight.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my camera can push these settings pretty far and still yield good results. I would encourage you to find a review that assesses your camera’s capabilities to see where the experts draw the line on ISO performance. For my camera, the line seems to be at 6400 with the experts in a controlled lighting situation – in the field I find I prefer the results at 3200 and lower. That’s twice the limit I have ever been comfortable trying, and reading up on my camera convinced me that my thinking on ISO and grain was stuck somewhere in past with my first Canon Elph (circa 2002).

When starting down this road my goal was to try to get shots of hummingbirds with definition in their wings. I have hundreds of shots from the last year with eyes in focus and wings that are barely discernible – now I love some of these shots, but getting wings with actual feathers defined was a rarity. Now I am not at the point where I am completely stopping motion on a hummingbird – honestly, I think that to do that dependably would require the use of a flash, and that is way outside my comfort zone. What follows are my favorite shots from a month of shooting in Shutter Mode.

Click on any image to start the slide show!

Now I know that last shot is not really an action shot. That girl worked her heart out for me - she’s out there on the front lines everyday defending that red bottle feeder, and her exhaustion is starting to show. She’s the acrobat diving into frame in so many of these shots. Well done, my little friend, well done.

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40 thoughts on “Shutter Speed – A Month of Hummers

  1. Pingback: Trying Something a Bit Flashy | the eff stop

  2. Pingback: Shutter Speed – on the Road | the eff stop

  3. These are great shots, but I must admit, my favorite is the last one. That little hummingbird LOOKS exhausted. And to catch them still is even more rare, so hats off to ya!

  4. Unbelievable images. I’ve never seen a hummingbird so close up before–actually, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in person at all. Their shape is fascinating, like some futuristic creature! :)
    xoxo

  5. Great shots, Lorri.
    I have to admire anyone who captures a good shot of a hummer. But I daresay it took a lot of practice.

    I’ve used ‘shutter priority’ very rarely. Here’s hoping I can get back to some bird photography soon – you’ve inspired me to give that camera setting a try.

    • I find myself taking test shots to make sure the speed works in the light with the ISO settings, but I’m making myself use it as often as possible unless I am shooting macro.

  6. Gosh – aren’t they just the most fascinating creatures. Doesn’t even seem possible that something that magical exists! Love the larger photo towards the end – just the curve of his tiny body and the wings so perfectly in focus – wonderful shot! Always love to visit with you, Lorri! We are due a trip into ES – was supposed to be there yesterday with my nieces and nephews but other not fun stuff intruded. I am fine – really – just need to get meds sorted out. Anyway – will let you know when we might be down and maybe can meet at Sparkys for lunch
    K

    • They really are magical and so full of enthusiasm – they almost sound like they are giggling. Definitely let me know when you will be in ES, I would love to meet up at Sparky’s! Glad you are on the mend!

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