Monday, September 7, 2015

You've Been Set Up

I thought I would show you how I photograph the hummingbirds today. All the world may be a stage, but you have to try and narrow it down to increase your chance of success. This method developed over time. I start with a long length of rope which is attached to a porch post at one end and a old basket ball pole on the other side of the driveway. This allows the entire set up to slide to any point in the yard and that allows me to change the background as well as the level of light falling on the scene.

In the days before clothes dryers, which a lot of younger people are probably not familiar with, women would dry clothes on a — wait for it — clothes line. Imagine your underwear hanging on a line for all the world to see. Anyway, when the line was filled with sheets or other items, the rope would sag, so you would also see poles holding the clothes line up and keeping the clean items from touching the ground. I took a couple of branches from the woods and lashed them together which allows me to quickly twist it and lock it in place.

I intentionally waited until August to begin taking pictures of the hummingbirds. I knew it to be addictive from past years and I wanted to limit the time somewhat. I intended to use the hanging baskets of petunias we purchased in spring for the porch, but they looked so poorly this year, I went searching for another flower. Basically, I was looking for a flower that had a trumpet shape because hummingbirds are suppose to prefer them. I don't find that to be true, however. They get curious about how many different flowers taste.

After purchasing the Torenia (the flower on the right), I wasn't too happy with it as a foil for the hummingbirds. The blossoms are actually not very outstanding; neither are they very large. I went looking for another flower. I have had my eye on the yellow flower on the left. Not this specific one, but the species. As I said in another post, I was able to purchase it at a substantial discount. Only problem is is that it was not in a hanging basket, requiring me to elevate it on the ladder.

The yellow of the blossoms in combination with the emerald color of the hummingbirds is stunning. Only problem with that is getting them to come to the flowers. I have tried leaving them near by but at more of a distance, not putting them up at all, and positioning them really close, like in this picture. This works best. It may seem like they are too close to the feeder, but the angle covered by the telephoto lens is so narrow, if the hummingbird is on the left side of the feeder, for example, the flower does not show in the picture!

Some days, not one bird goes to the flowers! For the life of me, I cannot figure why they don't pay more attention to them. Then, on days like yesterday, bird after bird work over almost every bloom. You may have noticed the lack of blossoms on the Allamanda (yellow flower). It started out with maybe twenty a couple of weeks ago, but has been losing some almost daily. New ones bloom, but the season is nearing it's end. But all you really need is one or two when the birds actually come to it.

I have this set up at the foot of the steps on the porch. This allows me to sit on the porch comfortably while I wait for the birds to come to the feeder. On average, that is about once every fifteen minutes. But, I can sit there even if it is raining and not get wet, which is an advantage.

So, there it is; a kind of behind the scenes look at how to increase the chance of getting some decent pictures of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

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