Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Thought I’d share one more image from my hummingbird set up from a couple of weeks ago.

Specific Feedback

  • I included more of the stem than I usually do - do you think that adds anything to the composition?
  • I slightly desaturated the flowers - any thoughts on how they look?
  • Thoughts on the background? I have a darker one I could use in the future.
  • I think I like a subtle red in the gorget as much or more than the bolder red in some images. Any thoughts on that?
  • Any other thoughts?

Technical Details

Canon R7, 400mm f4 DO IS II, tripod, five speedlites @ 1/8 power.
ISO 400, f20, 1/250s
Bird attracted by sugar water.


This works very nicely, Allen. I like the amount of stem in the image and the position of the hummingbird is quite nice. I agree that the subtler gorget can look as good as the all out light blast and sometimes better. I like this background, but you might also consider taking wider out of focus shots of your garden to get some nice color blobs in with the greens. I have some old shots that happened to have a varied garden in the background and they really looked cool to my eye.

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I like the extra stem - the largest leaf balances the bird nicely. I wouldn’t know you desaturated the flowers if you hadn’t said - I often do the same thing just to keep them from being out of harmony with the birds. The subtler red works fine and doesn’t overwhelm. Still like the full flashes though they are so hard to get. Mostly I get this side view, too. Dennis has a good idea for some image blending to bring some interest to the background.

Overall I find the subjects lack “snap” for lack of a better word. When this happens to me I try a few things -

  • HSL panel to separate colors - using Luminosity can be the best tool

  • Calibration panel boost to blue saturation

  • Masking to add texture and/or clarity to the subject only

  • Masking to boost mid tones in subject - sometimes global works, too.

Nice catch! I sat on the deck yesterday afternoon and tried for a few hummies, but nothing came out this well.

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I like the stem. I feel it adds more to the photograph and kind of leads the eye from the bird, to the flower, to the stem and out of the photograph. I also get that light green back ground when I shoot hummers. But, I feel there are no distractions and it leads me to just focus right on the bird first thing. I love it as is.

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Gorgeous capture with a lovely flower. The composition works for me but I don’t find the back sides of the leaves attractive. I wonder if they can be darkened? Or at least more tonal detail dug out? The BG has enough detail to be interesting, but there are certainly other options.

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I like the extra stem - particularly since the background while nice, isn’t especially interesting. Both the gorget on the bird and the flowers are nicely displayed and there are good details in the bird. Everything is in focus. Nicely done.

Where are the flashes placed?

Hi Tim, one flash on the left, two on the right in front of the flower. One behind the flower to light the printed background. One flash is just in the hot shoe to trigger the other flashes.

I’m just starting to explore flash…thanks!

Here’s a good article that should help.

Thank you so much…my hummer presence this year is much less than in years past (seems a common issue this year in my part of NC).


Love the image and especially the type of flower you used. I have been practicing using speedlights for hummingbirds. I have had some success, but I have not been satisfied with the flowers I have been using. Yours is perfect. Nice and sharp too. As for your background, I have a green mounted print I used also and felt it looked too “studio” So, I had some other prints made of backgrounds and used spray adhesive to mount them on large boards. I will attach some examples of my favorite print background. In your case the perfect vine flower with a very plain background works. But, make some prints and experiment with it.

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The lighting is pretty close to ideal–more light from above and less from below to make the shadows slightly stronger–just a personal preference. The longer stem and flower color is spot on. A darker BG might be worth trying. The pose is nice and there’s enough light on the gorget to show off the red. Well done…Jim

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