Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hummingbird and Cardinal Flower

Hummingbird and Cardinal Flower
Originally uploaded by Jason Means

Every once in a blue moon, you score a real winner, and today I was very proud to get this great shot of a Hummingbird feeding on a Cardinal Flower.

I've taken several Hummingbird shots this summer, some pretty decent, most only so-so. It's a chore to catch the little rascals while they're at the feeder, but a bigger task lies ahead if you actually want to catch one feeding in its natural environment.

Anyhow, I decided to stack the deck in my favor and head over to Nelle Chilton's pond. She's been feeding Hummingbirds for years, and has an unbelievable flower garden and pond that just keeps them coming back for more.

As summer has progressed, there's only a handful of flowers left in bloom around her pond, so I decided that I'd stalk one of the last remaining patches of Cardinal flowers in hopes of getting a few shots. Within minutes of finding a comfortable seat in the grass, I spotted this female feeding all by her lonesome. Most of the other Hummingbirds chose to fight each other at the feeders, but this one chose to feed all by herself and avoid the chaos only about fifty meters away.

About every ten to fifteen minutes she'd do a fly-by the flowers and perch in a shrub only a few meters away at the west end of the pond. After a couple of minutes of thorough observation, she'd fly over and feed at the tallest Cardinal flower on the right side of the patch, then lit over to the tallest flower on the left side of the patch.

After a few iterations of this flight path, I nudged my way into a slightly better position so that I could cover both tall flowers at either end of the patch. After a few more minutes, she returned and I was able to get this sweet shot.

Although she is heavily lit from the right side of the frame due to the setting sun, I was able to compensate with a marginal amount of fill flash, and diffused it through my handy-dandy Gary Fong flash diffuser.

This is one of those shots I've been waiting all summer for - and I'm so glad that I finally got it.

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