Allen's Hummingbird

Allen's Hummingbird

I try to impress upon people when starting out in bird/wildlife photography that it’s not just the bird that you’re photographing, it’s also everything else in the frame! It’s so easy to get fixated on the subject, especially when starting out, and forget the importance of the other basic photographic principles such as composition, foreground, background, distractions, camera settings etc. Now, birds don’t always hang around for us to set up our studio lighting and backgrounds (wouldn’t that make our lives easier), and sometimes the first shot you get is the only shot you get, regardless of what photographic principles you were able to employ. And there’s nothing wrong with that at all - I call it a ‘banker shot’. A photo that’s in the bank in case the bird flies, but one that I don’t settle for - I try to build upon it to improve the image.

Through experience and knowledge of bird behavior you can start to work with the bird and even anticipate it’s actions to help stack the odds in your favor of getting a great shot. This was the case here. I spent time watching this gorgeous Allen’s Hummingbird, I saw what patch it was favoring, and noticed that the color palette of the branch it kept landing on shared the same color palette as the hummingbird. I also noticed that it would sit on the branch for a minute or two, then it would do a circle around its patch of bushes and then return to the same branch. I took the time it was circling to move myself into a position to where not only the branch and the bird shared the same color palette, but also the background. Each decision I made strengthened the image slightly and it’s a great example of getting out what you put in.

Very nice image and words.
I image birds handheld, for myself, it’s all about a series of behaviors to gain permission for the approach, and tolerance for my attention. It’s like dating.
I suggest anyone calling their own image “great” is excessive self labeling.