So I’ve been here in Wyoming for almost a week and it has been amazing. I’ve seen wolves, bison, grizzlies, cinnamon black bears, pelicans and other beasties. We’ve visited the thermal effects, climbed the mountains, visited the lakes and rivers and made an excursion to the Tetons for a couple of days.
I’ll have photos for weeks but I’ll start off with one that I quite like.
My first photos of hummingbirds were shot with a Sony A7S camera using my Minolta 200mm f4 Macro lens adapted with the Sony LAEA3 adapter. Now, the Minolta doesn’t have an internal focusing motor so on the LAEA3 it’s a manual focus lens. That’s a pretty terrible combination for shooting tiny nervous birds that move like lightning. But by focusing on the spot I wanted the bird to be in I could make sure that the shot would be close to in focus. Then I’d set the shutter to multiple exposures and hold the trigger down for a few seconds. It wasn’t a great method but it could work.
The next set up I used was the Sony 90mm f2.8 macro lens on the Sony A7 III. The autofocus was pretty good and the 24 megapixels of the A7 III allowed for cropping to a close up. But the short focal length meant that I had to get quite close to the bird to get the shot and unfortunately the birds could hear the shutter click and this caused them to start away so I could only get one shot at a time which was not very satisfactory. Also, the close-up distance meant the in-focus zone was very narrow.
So, when I bought my Sony FE 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS lens I decided to give it a try on hummingbirds. But unfortunately, it was late in the season and the hummingbirds had stopped coming to the feeders. But one day I saw one flitting near a butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii). So, I set up a tripod the next morning with the lens and my camera about ten feet from the bush. I set the exposure speed to one thousandth of a second and the ISO on auto which in the good light present translated to a sensitivity between ISO 100 to ISO 300.
The results were very satisfactory. The narrower aperture and the greater distance provided a wider focus zone. And the greater distance also prevented the shutter from startling the birds. Unfortunately, the bird left after a very short time and never reappeared that season. I expect extremely good results this season. I especially want to run the camera at higher exposure speeds and see what kind of results I can get when the wings will be frozen at 1/3000th of a second. That will raise the ISO to at least 800 but that should still be within the range of excellent sensitivity.
So, I think I’ve found my new hummingbird set up. Now I just have to work on my technique and I expect very good things this year.