Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Macro Photography Tips and Digital Photography Reviews

Meta’s Macro Photography Tips is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Start Your Free 30 Day Trial of Amazon Prime!

How to Photography Hummingbirds for Beginners

Photographing Hummingbirds

Learn Meta’s How to Hummingbirds with The Low Power Multi-Flash Method at Various Hummingbird Shutter Speeds to Freeze the Wings.

Hummingbird Photography is a combination of Macro Photography and High Speed Hummingbird Flash Photography. Meta uses Multiple High Speed Flashes to Freeze the Hummingbird’s Wings and not the High Speed Shutter Speed of the Camera!

Buy Now

Support Meta’s Macro Photography Tips!

How to Photograph Hummingbirds and Freeze Their Wings
Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Photographing Hummingbirds - f/18, 1/250th
Low Power Multi-Flash Method – f/18, 1/250th

Low Power Multi-Flash Method

The Low Power Multi-Flash Method (Photo: Left) is Meta’s Best Hummingbird Photography Method that she uses for How Photography Hummingbirds and Freeze Their Wings. This is actually High Speed Flash Photography, similar to a Strobe Light, which is supported by the Sony HVL-F43M Flashes and the Sony Alpha 77 II’s Internal Popup Flash when set at 1/16 Power Level.

MENU –> Camera 3 –> Power ratio–> 1/16

This Hummingbird Photography Method DOES NOT require High Speed Hummingbird Shutter Speeds of the Camera.

This Low Power Multi-Flash Method produces a brighter and colorful Hummingbird Photograph, with a Wider Depth of Field. Meta shoots in Manual (M) Mode, start at ISO 50, at f/18 (f/22 if you have more Flashes), with a low Hummingbird Shutter Speed of only 1/100 to 1/250 of a second (Standard Nature Photography Camera Settings).

Meta uses her very solid Slik Pro 700DX Tripod to support the heavy weight of the Sony Alpha 77 II attached to the Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens. You must shoot in the Shade or in Low Light, not in direct sunlight!

How The Low Power Multi-Flash Method Works

There is a little known secret between Professional Hummingbird Photographers, that when you reduce the power of the Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to 1/16 Power Level, the Speed of the Flash increases to about 1/15,000th of second, which is fast enough to freeze the Hummingbird’s Wings, using only the High Speed of the Flash! The High Speed Flash is almost 2x faster than the Sony Alpha 77 II’s maximum 1/8,000th of a second Shutter Speed, which is not required. The Multiple High Speed Flashes of the Sony HVL-F43M Flashes can easily freeze the Hummingbird Wings, without requiring Fast Speed Hummingbird Shutter Speeds of the Camera. Sure, it’s a bit expensive to buy Multiple Sony Flashes, but the photographic results using the Low Power Multi-Flash Method are well worth the setup time and expense!

Reduced Flash Power – 1/16 Power Level

At 1/16 Power Level, the Guide Number (Power of the Flash) drops to only 1/4 Power or to GN = 10.8 instead of 43 for One Sony HVL-F43M Flash. You’ll need to use at least Three or Four Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to get enough Flash Light on the Little Hummers (Total GN = 10.8 x 3 = 32.4). Four Sony HVL-F43M Flashes at 1/16 Power produces the same amount of Flash Light of One Sony HVL-F43M Flash at Full Power.

Hummingbird Flash Setup – Getting to Remote Locations

To get all of Meta’s Bulky Multiple Remote Flashes to her remote shooting locations, Meta carries her Sony HVL-F43M Flashes inside Think Tank Strobe Stuff Bags, attached to her Think Tank Photo Camera Belt. This very versatile Camera Belt can attach any of the Think Tank Photo Series of Camera Bags and all of their different Camera Pouches.

Meta’s 3 Sony HVL-F43M Flashes are all setup as Multiple Wireless Remotes (Set to RMT1), about 0.5 Meters away from the Hummingbird Feeder. The Camera’s Internal Popup Flash (Set 1.5 – 2.0 Meters away at 1/16 Power Level) isn't going to provide very much usable Flash Light, so it’s ONLY function is to trigger the Wireless Remote Flashes, which surround the Hummingbird Feeder.

Since the Sony HVL-F43M Flashes communicate via IR, and not by RF, some portion of the front red IR sensor needs to be visible to the Camera’s Internal Popup Flash, else they won’t fire.

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Camera Setup
Meta’s Hummingbird Setup Using Three Flashes

Meta’s Personal Hummingbird Camera Setup – Camera Gear and Settings

(Photo: Left) Shooting in the Shade or Low Light, Meta’s Sony Alpha 77 II is attached to her Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens set to around 135mm. Shutter Speed is 1/250th of a second. Aperture f/18 for a Wide Depth of Field. Meta uses a Variable Neutral Density Filter to purposely reduce the background light level down by 2 to 4 f/stops. All of the Wireless Remote Sony HVL-F43M Flashes are set to the same 1/16 Power Level. The camera is mounted on her heavy duty SLIK Pro 700DX Tripod. The entire Tripod, Camera and Lens is Camouflaged using an XXL Realtree Mens Long Sleeve Shirt – Don’t laugh, but this really works, plus it protects your expensive camera gear from any Hummingbird pee and poop! The Camera’s Focal Plane (near the back of the camera) is positioned about 1.5 – 2.0 Meters away from the Modified Hummingbird Feeder, at 90°. Meta Manually Focuses on the center of the Hummingbird Feeder’s Perch Stand. Your Depth of Field should be as wide as the Perch Stand or the width of a Hummingbird. The Camera’s Internal Popup Flash, is set to 1/16 Power Level, is now used only as the Controller Flash (CTRL) to trigger the Wireless Remote Sony HVL-F43M Flashes (Labeled from her Studio as CTRL, RMT1 and RMT2), which are are positioned on either side of the Modified Perky Pet Hummingbird Feeder about 0.5 Meters away. The Wireless Remote Flashes are aimed directly at the spot the Hummingbirds should be hovering. All Remote Flash Zooms are set to Narrow (105mm). The Energizer Intervalometer is attached to the camera on a 5 Meter 2.5mm Stereo Extension Cable, which controls the Camera’s Shutter Release. The Rear LCD is tilted out so you can see what is on the screen. Now sit far back and wait for the Little Hummers to show up for their meal!

Best Hummingbird Feeder for Hummingbird Photography

Meta’s uses a specially Modified Perky Pet Red Glass Hummingbird Feeder, for Hummingbird Photography, which only has one active Feeding Port, so the Hummingbirds will always hover in the exact same position each time. She blocked the other Three Feeding Ports with 1/4” rubber end caps. Meta secures the Remote Flash Stands to the Hand Rail with a small 1” x1” square of 3M Double Sided Tape.

“I Need More Power, Mr. Scott!”

If 1/15,000th of a second Flash Speed isn’t fast enough for you, then reduce the Wireless Remote Flashes to 1/32 Power Level, which fires the flash at 1/21,000th of a second. The 1/32 Power Level is NOT supported by the Sony Alpha 77 II’s Internal Popup Flash (1/16 Limit), so that will have to remain at 1/16 Power Level. The 1/32 Power Level has GN = 7.6. (Total GN = 7.6 x 3 = 22.8), so you’ll probably need a few more Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to get more Flash Light Power on the Little Hummers.

How to Program Your Sony Flash

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Low Power Multi-Flash Method For Photographing Hummingbirds
Low Power Multi-Flash – Four Remote Flashes

Multiple High Speed Flashes

The more Sony HVL-F43M Flashes that you use, the Brighter and better the Quality of your Hummingbird Photos. You’ll have to shoot the Little Hummers in the shade, because you want the Multiple Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to be your Primary Light Source – Not the overhead sunlight!

Lower Power Levels

All Flashes being used MUST be set to the Identical Power Levels, so that you have the Identical Flash Speeds.

Camera’s Internal Popup Flash Setup

The Camera’s Internal Popup Flash is used only to trigger the Wireless Remote Flashes. It needs to be set to 1/16 Power Level to match the Speed of the Remotes. Here’s how to set the Power Level of the Camera’s Internal Popup Flash. This camera setting has no effect on the Wireless Remote Sony HVL-F43M Flashes, which need to be setup one at a time (see below).

MENU –> Camera 3 –> Power ratio–> 1/16

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - How to Reduce Power Level For a Faster Flash
How to Reduce Power Level for a Faster Flash

REMOTE Sony Flash Power Setup

You will need to set each of the Multiple REMOTE Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to Wireless Mode “WL” and Reduce to 1/16 Power Level. It’s a good idea to Label each REMOTE flash with small stickers, like CTRL, RMT1 and RMT2, so that you don’t get them mixed up.

1) Press the MODE button once to get to “WL” Remote.
2) Press the TTL/M button once to get to MANUAL.
3) Reduce the Power Level of the Flash by pressing the Bottom Arrow until 1/16.
4) Set all REMOTE Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to RMT, CH-1, CTRL1.
5) Set the Flash’s Zoom to 105mm (Narrowest Setting).

CONTROLLER Sony Flash Power Setup

Set the Camera Mounted CONTROLLER Sony HVL-F43M Flash to Wireless Mode “WL” and Reduce to 1/16 Power Level. Label the CONTROLLER flash with a small sticker CTRL.

1) Press the MODE button once to get to “WL” Remote.
2) Press the TTL/M button once to get to MANUAL.
3) Reduce the Power Level of the Flash by pressing the Bottom Arrow until 1/16.
4) Set the Camera Mounted CONTROLLER Sony HVL-F43M Flash to CTRL, CH-1, CTRL1.
5) Set the Flash’s Zoom to 105mm (Narrowest Setting) and slightly tilt the CONTROLLER Flash down 8°.

Sony HVL-F43M Operating Manual


Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Enter the Custom Settings Mode
Hold 3 Seconds to Enter Custom Settings Mode

Disable High Speed Sync (HSS)

Disable High Speed Sync in all of the Sony HVL-F43M Flashes, which is defaulted ON.

MENU MODE – C 01 –> OFF.

Disable Power Save Mode

Disable the Power Save Mode to keep Camera in Constant Communication with all of the Sony Wireless Remote Flashes.

MENU MODE – C 06 –> - -.

Use Multiple Sony Flashes

Meta recommends that you use at least Three or More Wireless Remote Sony HVL-F43M Flashes positioned around the Hummingbird Feeder at about 0.5 Meters. Set all of the Wireless Remote Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to 1/16 Power Level to get the Required High Speed Hummingbird Flash Speed of 1/15,000th of a second.

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Photographing Hummingbirds - f/18, 1/250th
Low Power Multi-Flash Method – f/18, 1/250th

Pros

The Low Power Level Flash Method (Photo: Left) results in a Wider Depth of Field and much more Light and Beautiful Colors in the Hummingbird’s Feathers. The more Sony HVL-F43M Flashes that you use the better the brightness and colors will be. The camera also isn’t being pushed to its physical limits, resulting in no related setting issues.

Cons

It can be expensive to purchase Multiple Wireless Remote Sony HVL-F43M Flashes, at about $330 per flash. Meta bought all of her Sony Flashes used on amazon.com.

Results

This Hummingbird (Photo: Left) was shot with Three Sony HVL-F43M Flashes at f/18 and a low Hummingbird Shutter Speed of only 1/100th of a second!

Sony HVL-F43M Operating Manual

Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews for Beginner Macro Photography – Meta’s Camera Gear

Sony Alpha 77 II

The Sony Alpha 77 II APC-C Mirrorless SLT Camera produces very sharp 24 Megapixels images at 6000x4000 pixels. The Sony Alpha 77 II has a very fast processor for rapid HDR’s and it can shoot at up to 1/8,000th Shutter Speed, which can freeze Hummingbird Wings in Bright Direct Sunlight, if you don’t have Multiple Sony HVL-F43M Flashes.



Buy Now

Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens

The Sony Alpha 77 II is mounted to her Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens, set to around 135mm to 200 mm Focal Length. This is the Sharpest f/2.8 Telephoto Lens for Shooting Hummingbird Photos and Nature Photography. Sure, it’s expensive, big, bulky and heavy, but it’s Meta’s Best Telephoto Lens for shooting Hummingbirds.




Buy Now

Slik Pro 700 DX Tripod

The Heavy Duty Slik Pro 700 DX Tripod easily supports her 6.2 pounds of camera gear that Meta uses to Photography Hummingbirds with. She positions her Slik Pro 700 DX Tripod 1.5 to 2.0 Meters away from the Hummingbird Feeder. She mounts One BlackRapid Bryce Pouch on her Tripod Bag Strap to hold her Energizer Intervalometer and 5 Meter Extension Cable. Meta applied Heavy Duty Velcro Hook Tape to the tops of the Tripod legs, which she can attach her Lens Caps and her Intervalometer.


Buy Now

BlackRapid Bryce Pouches

Meta attaches a BlackRapid Bryce Pouch to one of the Tripod Legs to store her Energizer Intervalometer, AAA Batteries and a 5 Meter 2.5mm Stereo Extension Cable. The large Velcro Flaps on the back of the Pouch wrap around the Tripod Leg perfectly.




Buy Now

Sony HVL-F43M Flashes

Meta uses Three smaller Sony HVL-F43M Flashes, reduced to 1/16 Power Level. The CONTROLLER Sony HVL-F43M Flash is mounted on top of the Sony Alpha 77 II, which triggers the two REMOTE Sony HVL-F43M Flashes, which are positioned on either side of the Hummingbird Feeder. Fits perfectly into the Little Stuffit Strobe Stuff Pouch.
GN: 43. Size: (W x H x D) 3” x 5-5/8” x 3-1/2”. 4 AA Batteries.

HVL-F43M Operating Manual


Buy Now

Sony HVL-F60M High Power Flash

If you need more Flash Power on your Hummingbirds, the larger Sony HVL-F60M Flash has a higher GN of 60. The “Quick Shift Bounce” system allows the flash to pivot 90 degrees left and right and Wireless Ratio Control. High Speed Sync (HSS). Features new built-in 3 LED video light. Fits perfectly into the Little Stuffit Strobe Stuff Pouch.
GN: 60. Size: (W x H x D) 3-1/4” x 6” x 4-1/8”. 4 AA Batteries.

HVL-F60 Operating Manual


Buy Now

Think Tank Photo Strobe Stuff

To get her Multiple Sony HVL-F43M Flashes to Remote Shooting Locations, Meta stores her Sony HVL-F43M Flashes inside Think Tank Strobe Stuff Bags, attached to her Think Tank Photo Camera Belt. This very handy Strobe Pouch can hold the Sony HVL-F60M or the Sony HVL-F43M Flash, with a diffuser. The front zippered section has lots of room for Meta’s Flash Stand, Flash Manual, plus extra AA Batteries.



Buy Now

Energizer Intervalometer – Remote Shutter Release

Hummingbirds spook very easily if you get too close to them, so Meta sits back about 5 Meters from the Hummingbird Feeder. She connects her 5 Meter 2.5mm Stereo Extension Cable to her Energizer Intervalometer, which now functions as a Remote Shutter Release. When the Hummingbirds are in their hover position, press the Shutter Release Button. (The Two AAA Batteries are not required when this is device used as a Remote Shutter Release).


Buy Now

ZOMEI Variable Neutral Density Filters – Available in Most Filter Sizes

Meta uses a 77mm Zomei Variable Neutral Density Filter (ND2 – ND400) on her Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens to prevent overexposure on long shutter speeds when shooting Waterfalls, Waves and Fog. ZOMEI uses high quality imported Germany Otto Schott Glass, 18 layer coating, high definition and is scratch resistant. The lightweight ultra slim 7mm thickness prevents vignetting. Adjustable from -2 to -8 f/stops.



Buy Now

Hummingbird Photography for Beginners

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Low Power Multi-Flash Method For Photographing Hummingbirds
Low Power Multi-Flash – Four Remote Flashes

Hummingbird Shooting Methods

The first two Hummingbird photos (Dark Green Background) were shot in Bright Sunlight using the High Speed Shutter Method, at Grandfather Mountain in Linville, NC, using 1/4,000th of a second Hummingbird Shutter Speed, f/4.0 and ISO 1600. The Sony Alpha 77 II can shot at 1/8,000th of a second, but there just wasn’t enough sunlight at that fast shutter speed, so Meta had to reduce to 1/4,000th of a second shutter speed. She got lucky with the first two Hummingbird Photographs, out of over 200 she shot that afternoon. The Depth of Field was very Shallow at f/4.0, but the position of the Hummingbird’s Wings were held tightly together, forward and back, making the Hummingbird thinner and within the Shallow Depth of Field.

The remainder of the Hummingbird Photo Gallery were shot in the morning shade on her front porch in Blowing Rock, NC, using the Low Power Multi-Flash Method at a low 1/250th of a second Hummingbird Shutter Speed, f/18, start at ISO 50 (Standard Photography Settings) using the Sony Alpha 77 II and Three Sony HVL-F43M Flashes set to 1/16 Power Level (1/15,000th of a second Flash). Notice the difference better color and brightness when using Multiple Sony Flashes.

All of the Hummingbird Photos were shot with her Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens at around 135mm, and about 1.5 to 2.0 meters away from the Hummingbird Feeder.

Meta’s Conclusions

The Low Power Multi-Flash Method produces a Wider Depth of Field (f/18), much less noise (Start at ISO 50), and very vibrant colors (1/250th of a second shutter speed), producing an iridescent glow on the Hummingbird’s tiny feathers. The camera and lens aren’t pushed to their mechanical limits either, so you have less technical issues to deal with.

TipFor Easy No Mess Hummingbird Nectar: Take a 500ml bottle of drinking water. Pour out 100ml of water (20% or 1/5). Add 100 ml of sugar to the fill line (4:1 Ratio of Water to Sugar). Shake well to mix. This works very well if you need to quickly mix up some at a restaurant or cafe.
Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Photos Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Photos Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Photos
Hummingbird Photo – High Speed Shutter
Direct Sunlight– 1/4,000th, ISO 1600, f/4.0
Hummingbird Photo –High Speed Shutter
Direct Sunlight– 1/4,000th, ISO 1600, f/4.0
Hummingbird Photo – Low Power Multi-Flash
Three High Speed Flashes – 1/100th, ISO 100, f/18
Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Photos Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Photos Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Hummingbird Photos
Hummingbird Photo – Low Power Multi-Flash
Three High Speed Flashes – 1/100th, ISO 100, f/18
Hummingbird Photo – Low Power Multi-Flash
Three High Speed Flashes – 1/100th, ISO 100, f/18
Hummingbird Photo – Low Power Multi-Flash
Three High Speed Flashes – 1/100th, ISO 100, f/18

The Basic Camera Setup to Photography Hummingbirds

Meta's Macro Photography Tips for Beginners - Low Power Multi-Flash Method For Photographing Hummingbirds
Low Power Multi-Flash – Four Remote Flashes

Meta’s Personal Low Power Multi-Flash Method – Print This Section

Camera: Sony Alpha 77 II.
REMOTE Flashes: Set to RMT, 1/16 Power Level, 105mm Zoom. Position 0.5 Meters.
CONTROLLER Flash: Camera’s Internal Popup Flash, 1/16 Power Level.
Shooting Distance to Subject: About 1.5 to 2.0 Meters.
Lens: Sony 70–200 f/2.8 Telephoto Lens at around 135mm Focal Length.
Camera Mode: Manual Mode (M).
ISO: Start at ISO 50
Exposure Level: Use Variable ND Filter for -1 to -4 f-stops to darken background.
White Balance: Flash
Shutter Speed: 1/250th of a second.
Aperture: f/18 (f/22 if you use more flashes) for a Wider Depth of Field.

Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Hummingbird Photography Books

Hummingbirds of North America The Photographic Guide

Hummingbirds of North America: The Photographic Guide

– Steve N. G. Howell

Well known and respected Hummingbird tour leader and author, Steve Howell, has made a particular study of the finer points of Hummingbirds. Over 200 stunning Hummingbird Photographs complement this highly recommended Hummingbird Photography Book. Some Hummingbird species feature as many as 14 different Hummingbird Photographs in each photo set.

Buy Now
Hummingbirds of North America The Photographic Guide

Hummingbirds of North America: Attracting, Feeding and Photographing

– Dan True

Professional Hummingbird Photographer Dan True conveys his passion for these buzzing aeronauts by describing all 16 species of North American Hummers, listing their favorite flowers and going into detail about their habits, courtship and distribution. Dan then tells us How to Photograph Hummingbirds as he does with such consummate skill. Here in one Hummingbird book is all you could hope to know about our Hummingbirds.

Buy Now

Meta’s Digital Photography Reviews of the Best Hummingbird Feeders

Perky Pet Hummingbird Feeders – Modified for Hummingbird Photography

For Hummingbird Photography – One issue with using multi-port Hummingbird Feeders, is that you don”t know which port the Hummingbirds will land on, so you’ll often miss a few shots. Meta modified her Perky Pet Red Glass Hummingbird Feeder, by removing three of the four plastic flowers, then blocking the three ports with rubber end caps. She cut off three of the four resting legs. This simple Hummingbird Photography Modification results in a One Port Hummingbird Feeder, which is perfect for Hummingbird Photography to shoot all of the Hummingbirds.

Buy Now

Hummzinger Hummingbird Feeders

For everyday Hummingbird Feeding on Meta’s front porch, she uses the Hummzinger Hummingbird Feeders. These flat style Hummingbird Feeders are very easy to fill, easy to clean, and they offer a much wider view of the many Hummingbirds. These are available in both four and six port models.




Buy Now

Meta’s Macro Photography Reviews for Beginners

Photographing Hummingbirds

Meta hopes that you found her How to Photograph Hummingbirds useful in helping you shoot the Best Hummingbird Photographs.

If you have any Macro Photography Tips for Beginners or New Digital Photography Products that you would like to see Reviewed on Meta’s website, please Contact Meta.

If you found Meta’s Tips Helpful, consider Sending Meta a Donation!

“Oh Lord, won’t you Fund Me, a Sony Zeiss Lens?
My friends all use Nikons, I must make amends!”

~ Meta

Photos By Meta

The top Macro Photographs featured on Meta’s Macro Photography Tips are available at Photos By Meta. Framed Prints available in Blowing Rock, NC at Rustic.
Find us on Facebook
North Carolina Web Design