Costa's Hummingbird

Costa’s Hummingbird (Calypte costae)

Place: Phoenix, AZ
Date: March 27, 2019, 6:00 pm
Equipment: Nikon D7200, AF-S Nikkor 200-500 f/5.6 VR, tripod
Exposure: ISO 800, Aperture priority matrix metered, 1/800th @ f/5.6
Raw, PS CC 2019 on Mac, cropped to 86% of full frame
No set up, no flash

This Costa’s decided to visit some penstemon flowers in the back yard to avoid the crowd of Costa’s and Anna’s at the two feeders hanging in a nearby tree. This area is shaded when the birds are most plentiful so there is a limited time window when I can shoot.

1 Like

Hi Richard
I like the Hummingbird’s coloring, detail and action, just wish the shutter speed was faster. The wing action would be a little clear.

A lovely pose while feeding off the flowers. Well done. Nice bg. My preference would be to have the
bird a little lighter.

Thanks, Peter, for commenting. Actually I prefer this wing blur for the implied motion that is lost when a very high shutter speed or flash is used for flying hummers. but I realize that is a matter of personal taste.

Very nice capture, Richard! Great details on head and body plus the pink flowers really brighten up the scene. I can go either way with the stopped motion vs the blurred wings. The super fast shutter speeds or flash photos show details in the wings that you never get to see with the naked eye but the blurred wings are more realistic for the same reason as you never see anything but blur when observing these guys in real life.

Very pleasing colors, wing position, detail. Excellent job on the wing blur. I like the flowers. If I were going to do anything,I would consider a half stop increase in the brightness of the dark plumage on the bottom of the head to more closely match that luminosity of the upper part of the head and bring out more detail. But that is preference and a small concern.

Excellent detail in the hummingbird, Rich, and I like the blurred wings. I like that purple gorget. If I recall correctly, you aren’t a fan of altering the background, but I do find the partial bloom in the lower right a bit distracting.


Correct - I seldom clone out stuff but I agree that doing so would make this stronger without that distraction.

Thanks, David, for commenting.

I don’t think there’s much detail that could be extracted from the bottom the head, but I may try some shadow recovery in the latest version of PS CC. That’s something that I rarely did before so it might be worth the try.

As I’m sure you know the gorget feathers on a hummingbird are highly sensitive to the amount and direction of the light hitting them, and often this most colorful part of the bird just appears black.

Here’s a shot 2 seconds and 4 frames later of the same bird, where matrix metering gave me 1/1000 sec instead of 1/800th just to see more of the purple.

Both fine shots, Richard and what I particularly like is the natural feel to it. Although I admire the shots with multiple flashes (and the the photographers who master this technique for that matter), I tend to have a stronger personal preference for the ‘all natural’ images. Actually, I like the wing position of the first shot better, and the overall comp of the 2nd image… Cheers, Hans

I agree with Hans on both of these. Detail in the dark plumage is better on the second. Superb BG on both. There is a real pleasing feeling to both when seen large. I need to wait for my crocosmia in July before I have HB attracting flowers…

I’m surprised you don’t have Red flowering Currant in your mix, David. That’s a good hummingbird flower for our area. I’ve tried it here several times without success, but most places in our area it works fine.

Wonderful photo Rich, both of them. I really like the second one because it brings out the rich colors of the bird.