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I started using a Nikon D5300. My back yard has a lot Hummingbirds and I want take very good pictures. I took a couple but the wings are not clear.

Does someone have a suggestion on how I can do this?

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    Hi Leonel. Welcome to Photography on StackExchange. Can you please modify your question to add more details and perhaps a sample photo? You mention the wings are not clear. Is the rest of the bird clear? Details such as lens/focal-length information, exposure mode (Auto, Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, etc.) and exposure information (shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO setting) are all details that will help others provide you with a better answer. Oct 3 '20 at 23:05
  • Does this answer your question? How can I photograph hummingbirds?
    – Itai
    Oct 5 '20 at 15:48
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One of our local photography club members specializes in Hummmingbird shots. I'll explain his approach as best I can.

First and foremost, he achieves gorgous stop-action of the wings with partial power electronic flash, not with camera shutter speed.

He has an array of flashes and cameras setup around his feeder. Sometimes he triggers them remotely himself, and sometimes he uses auto-triggers based upon the hummingbirds flying through a trigger laser detector.

Another thing he does is he has his own pre-printed "Boca" backgrounds. He has large(ish) blurry scenery and floral prints set on stands to act as a backdrop for photos of the birds.

Good luck!

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You are wanting to freeze the motion of the wings which move extremely fast... That's typically going to require shutter speeds around 1/2000 or faster; which means you need strong light or higher ISO settings.

The other option is to freeze the motion with flash, but that is more problematic. In order to freeze motion with flash the flash has to be the only light source the camera sees/records. And in order for the flash to be fast enough the average flash will need to be set to about 1/4 power; which means it is too weak to be the only light source at typical distances. So you end up needing multiple flashes on stands placed closer to the hummingbird.

A third option is something of a compromise... you can use flash as partial lighting (fill flash) which can give you a frozen wing position overlaying the wing's motion blur. Whichever exposure is brighter/stronger will dictate what is more visible/on top. Similarly you can use the flash as partial/fill in high speed sync to enable higher shutter speeds.

You can also combine these things with a little luck and a high frame rate... the wing's speed slows down as it changes direction, so it is easier to freeze at the top/bottom of the beat.

Personally, I prefer images where the wing is not completely frozen and tend to use either fill flash, or no flash and shutter speeds around 1/500-1/1000. I also think these types of images tend to look more natural than ones where all of the light is from flash.

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  • Re: "...shutter speeds around 1/2000 or faster..." That might produce surprising, and possibly undesirable results if the camera does not have a global shutter. For those of us who don't have the budget for that sort of thing, high-speed flash probably is the better way to go. Oct 5 '20 at 14:39
  • @SolomonSlow, No DSLR has a global shutter... rolling readout could be an issue w/ slower SS's on a mirrorless camera, but the D5300 isn't. Oct 5 '20 at 21:31

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