I have been photographing hummingbirds since 1996, in fact just a few days after I moved the US from England. (I am Australian originally - long story). I have shot well over 750,000 images of them, and less than a hundred of them perched. I make things hard for myself by shooting them in flight, with high speed flash, ideally, interacting. The hit-rate of getting interacting, flying birds in the same frame, in focus, in a reasonably acceptable composition is about 1 in 12,000.
Most sane people would think that is dogged insanity. I call it perseverance. One might think it gets boring and frustrating - the latter yes, the former, never. I remain entranced every time I sit down to shoot these fabulous jewels of the sky.
Don't be fooled though - as beautiful and cute and iridescent and tiny and intricate and exquisite as they are, they are just plain mean. Ferocious even. Turf wars abound: males vs males, females vs females, males vs females. It is quite astonishing to see what ends the bullies will go to, to ensure another hummer isn't trespassing.
All of my hummingbird images (all of my wildlife images for that matter) are of wild and free animals. The only 'Photoshopping' I do is to adjust color balance, contrast and remove dust specks. If you see an image with multiple birds in it, those birds were in-situ.
When people see my images on a wall or in the Vault Gallery, Cambria, CA, they sometimes think they are 1) A painting or 2) Photoshopped, because "You can't get a pure white or pure black background in a camera". Eau contraire, I say... Black is the absence of light and is actually easy. The white backgrounds are actually cream colored stucco on the side of my house, above a small garden. I use high powered, short duration flash to illuminate the wall, turning it white, because it is overexposed. (You can make a black wall appear white with enough flash power). The key element of my hummingbird photography is nearly 30 years of *technique* !!
My mountain lion conservation work has meant my hummingbird photography has waned in the last couple of years - and I am looking forward to shooting several hundred frames a day again soon, if only to keep one or two...
Feel free to checkout any of my three galleries of hummingbird imagery:
If you would like to purchase an aluminum Limited Edition Print of a selection of my hummingbird images, head on over to Artsy, where they are available exclusively through the Vault Gallery in Cambria, CA.