photography and digital scrapbooking

My Hummingbird Afternoon: A Setup For Success


Yesterday we picked up several types of flowering plants at a nursery. I wanted to try a technique I learned from Tricia Booker’s photography blog. She explained how she placed flowers near a hummingbird feeder to attract the birds and provide a backdrop for her photographs. With a few additional items, I felt this idea could work for me too!

The most convenient place for my tripod was the screened porch. That meant placing a feeder opposite the porch door, just outside the landing. So my husband and I stacked several large, abandoned flowerpots full of garden soil. Then we pushed a tall shepherd’s hook into the top flowerpot and secured it to the landing with a bracket. I hung a hummingbird feeder on the shepherd’s hook, then all I had to do was arrange the new flowers under and around the feeder. I used bricks and wooden blocks to adjust the height.

While I arranged the flowers, a curious hummingbird appeared two feet in front of my face, hovering for about 5 seconds! It was a juvenile male. He claimed the feeder as his own and spent the rest of the day checking out the flowers, feeding, and staying alert for interlopers. He even objected to bumblebees landing on his flowers, chasing and jabbing at them with his beak. Throughout the afternoon, hummingbird fights broke out that included body slamming and frantic chirping. No casualties resulted, although an adult male was seen rapidly diving (or falling) into ground ivy. When he came to his senses, he buzzed around under the ivy until he found his way out. He seemed unharmed, except maybe for his pride!

My new setup was a success, allowing me to shoot partially hidden and giving my hummingbird photos a flowery ambiance. I hope to try again when bright sunlight will allow for a faster shutter speed. Have you learned tips for photographing hummingbirds or other birds? Please share your success in the comment section below!

All photos: Canon 60D, Manual, RAW format, metering mode; center-weighted average.

Photos 1-4 and 6-10, ISO 3200, 200mm, f/11, 1/320.

Photos 5 and 11: ISO 2400, 200mm, f/11, 1/250.



Author: Karen Chandler

Metal clay jewelry, nature photography, and digital scrapbooking are Karen's passions. She is mostly self-taught, enjoying the learning process as much as producing her works of art. Karen's jewelry features fine silver, copper, and bronze. She sculpts and refines metal clay, then kiln fires her pieces and polishes them to perfection. The process allows for exciting interpretations of symbols, shapes, textures, and combinations of metals. A long time user of Photoshop, Karen loves to create digital layouts with her photos. Her layouts and albums are a diary of sorts; documenting milestones, recording happy times, and celebrating her love of nature.

28 thoughts on “My Hummingbird Afternoon: A Setup For Success

  1. Karen these are stunning! The placement of the flowers worked beautifully, and the colors are just glorious! I love everything about these photos, especially the ones with his tongue out.

    I laughed about the bees. My guys have been chasing them away as well, but the yellow jackets that appeared on Friday chased them right back, then there’s a lot of squeaking and chattering as they battle for the feeder. Hummingbirds don’t always win those fights.

    We had a cold snap on Saturday afternoon, though, and I fear my hummingbirds have left. I saw only one yesterday and none today even after placing fresh flowers and refilling the feeder. I look forward to seeing more of your photos this week and thanks for the pingback!

    • Thanks so much, Tricia! And thanks for the flower idea! It was fun to see the bird’s curiosity and intensity when a new feeding station was involved!

      The flowers shown in my photos are strong bee attractors, so honeybees and bumblebees are constantly in the hummingbird’s space. Like you, I have seen bees stand their ground. And if they do leave it is only temporary.

      I hope your birds are still around! If not, maybe you will get some visits from migrating birds who need a rest stop!

  2. I would not have thought it possible, but your photos just keep getting better and better. These are simply breathtakingly beautiful!!!

    • Thank you, Joyce! Hummingbird photography is a serious subject for me! The price of a few pots of flowers and a few minutes of work was worth the effort.

      If the clouds move out today, I’m hoping to get some action-stopping shots. The wings are probably too fast for my fastest shutter speed, but it will be fun trying!

  3. Boy, that flower idea sure made a difference. Well done, Karen. 🙂

    • Thanks, Bob! It was an idea I could not resist, considering the fun I had this summer with my window feeder. I saw the ‘owner’ of the feeder this morning, perched on the shepherd’s hook, guarding his territory!

  4. Oh my goodness, Karen, this are absolutely stunning! I could use a lesson or two in photography from you!

  5. Boy you gals (You and Tricia) and your Hummingbird photos…absolutely amazing. I love them all !!

    • LOL – thanks, David! I love the challenge. I wanted to make more photos today, but the clouds are still hanging around. I don’t want to max out my ISO. But that might actually be an interesting experiment!

  6. Fantastic photos! That little guy is a real scrapper, isn’t he?

  7. Great photos!

  8. Dear Karen,

    Your photos are wonderful! I love your composition. I can’t wait to see what are you going to post for the guest spot. You’re a terrific photographer. Question, Do you live in Georgia? I live in Hiram at Paulding County.

    • Thanks, H.J.! I’m working on more photos for the guest post this afternoon. A bit too cloudy and shady for the location of the feeder. I have a few from today to download. Maybe I will like them!

      Yup – Georgia. Going on three decades now!

  9. Amazing, Karen! What abundance here. Thanks for showing so many of these gorgeous shots.

    • Thank you, Cait! I had a difficult time deciding on the number of photos to include. I finally decided to choose based on the hummingbird’s approach, hovering near the flowers, then leaving. This was my favorite shoot so far!

  10. Beautiful pictures! Absolutely stunning!

  11. These are brilliant – some of the best hummingbird pictures I’ve ever seen. The use of flowers to frame the bird make this beautiful as well as technically excellent.

  12. I would very much like to purchase one of your photographs for use on my website as well as in promotions. Can you contact me if you are interested. Thanks!!