I shot an Apodiformes the other day…

The Wiki dictionary says, “Traditionally, the bird order Apodiformes contained three living families: the swifts (Apodidae), the tree swifts (Hemiprocnidae), and the hummingbirds (Trochilidae).” I’m talking about the hummingbird of course.

I believe we photographers have all had the opportunity to try and capture those tiny delightful little curious hummingbirds one time or another. It seems that I can never get the light just right to show the brilliant iridescence found in both the female and male of the species in my images. So I’ve been content to snap them as they perched on a twig or on their nests. But on a sunny Saturday morning a few weeks ago a friend called and told me that there was a little nest being built in their breezeway on a Devils Claw swaying in the gentle breeze.


Twins! – Sony A-77, DT 16-50, ISO 125, 50 mm, 0 ev, f/4, 1/160 sec

I had just finished researching some better ways to photograph the little fellas and had decided to drive over and check out the situation. I found out that the nest that was built and hanging on a column of devils claws linked together swaying to-and-fro in the portico of the home in the shade. This wasn’t the best lighting and the nest was stuck to the claw as you can see above in a very precarious way.

The momma bird was off getting grub for the young ones and I was lucky enough to snap a couple shots. The twins were hardly bigger than two large blue-bottle flies lying there in the bottom of the nest. They sure were homely little guys with their eyes closed and little pinfeathers sprouting out of their leathery looking backs. Only a mother could love them.

I had to work quickly if I was to get some meaningful shots of the female on the nest.

My Sony A-77 and remote strobe set-up

My Sony A-77 and remote strobe set-up

I set up my tripod just opposite the hanging devils claw column and my strobe at almost right angles from the camera. It was set at about 35 degrees above the horizontal of the cameras view. I noticed that the female bird fed the chicks  and her body would be parallel to the wall. With the strobe placed there I thought I could finally get some iridescence from her plumage to show. After fiddling with the syncronization wireless controller to the camera and the wireless connection to the strobe I was ready. We left the setup and went inside the house and watch the female fly back and forth deciding if she should come back to feed her young. Finally she zoomed in examining the camera and strobe and was just about to land and then flew away after this first shot,  just as I’d read about in the article

She came and then flew away after this first shot

She came and then flew away after this first shot –  Sony A-77, DT 16-50, ISO 200, 50 mm, 1 ev, f/20, 1/160 sec

They said that the flash didn’t bother them but the faint pop of the strobe initially startles them… but that she would come back quite soon. They were right. In about 5 minutes she was back and this time the strobe didn’t bother her.

Time for lunch for the chicks

Time for lunch for the chicks – Sony A-77, DT 16-50, ISO 200, 50 mm, 1 ev, f/20, 1/160 sec

It all turned out quite well I believe. Some photographer friends have accused me of altering the birds colors to that of the painted blue brick along the side of the breezeway but I didn’t. I just lucked out on that one. Below she is keeping the chicks warm and cozy.

Cuddling the wee ones

Cuddling the wee ones – Sony A-77, DT 16-50, ISO 200, 50 mm, 1 ev, f/20, 1/160 sec

Finally I can say I shot the Apodiformes (Trochilidae) in the wild and got all her amazing iridescence.

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