Greg Scott Online Photo Workshop
Hummingbird Photo Workshop
Online Hummingbird Photo Workshop
This is an incomplete draft, published as a document under writing and
In August and early September 2006, I'll offer a free informal
hummingbird photography workshop in Alpharetta Georgia. This is
contingent on my personal schedule, but that's my plan. In advance to
that, I'll respond to email questions, and also document techniques on
this website. Participants in this online workshop will have preference
for selection for the onsite workshop, but it's not a requirement.
Meanwhile, I'll attempt to answer questions by email, and summarize
those discussions by reposting them here.
If you want to take photos of hummingbirds in the spring, it's not to
early to begin to prepare. (It's December, 2005 as I write the
previous sentence.) You can prepare in a wide variety of ways, some of which can
take years, not merely days or months:
Create a garden environment which is inviting to hummingbirds.
Survey photographic styles and techniques, and determine your
Evaluate and select equipment consistent to your budget, objectives,
and other considerations
Learn the technical details of how the camera and flash work, and
how controls and settings impact the images captured.
Test and practice techniques so you'll be confident and prepared,
and have a clear plan when the birds arrive.
Have fun on the way, and follow your photographic muse, and enjoy
the birds and other models you have right now.
Things to learn:
How to use flash to get photos of birds with minimal wing blur
How get "pleasing" photos of birds with blurred wings, which some
people prefer, for a more natural "feel".
How to control your cameras with manual settings. (Bring your manuals!
for camera and flash! I barely know how to use my own camera, much less
How to use automatic settings to get (as close as feasable) to the
functionality you need.
This would be an casual, informal outdoors/garden "workshop"
rather than formal classroom instruction.
Digital cameras would tend to be better because it's
easier to confirm and adjust correct exposure, framing, lighting, and
so on, and it saves a tremendous amount of money on film and
Editing digital photos
Demonstrate the advantages of using RAW file formats, TIFF
formats, or other high quality formats.
No specialized equipment is required to get some kind of photo,
given an adequate supply of birds.
However, here's some extra equipment
that may be useful or necessary, depending on what you want to do:
tripods, as many as you can lay hands on. A stepladder can be an excellent supplement, and improve stability and reduce the number of tripods needed.
remote camera release cable
off camera flash cable
slave flash accessories, if needed
posterboard or other backgrounds. I prefer white, which looks grey, if you have it far enough from the flash.
cooler, snacks, drinks, ice
anything suitable to provide shade for yourself and/or your camera.
feeders: selection, care, and location
Dummy and Feeder plants
laptop, USB hub, interface cables, video TV adapter.
I'm planning a free hummingbird photo late next summer during the
hummingbird migration. Slots will be limited and you must reserve your
slot by email response and confirmation. No photographic
experience is required. However, I'll make suggestions beforehand, time
permitting, of "exercises" you can do to prepare. I don't want folks to
fly into town and be disappointed though, I don't have an absolutely
reliable source of birds during that time, and there are other
scheduling problems, so flexibility will be required.
Only "local" folks should attend, probably, unless you're extremely highly motivated
and even more forgiving if things don't work out. But if the planets
and birds align favorably, I could probably support up to 3 or 4 folks,
perhaps more, each with their own camera (I presume). I could provide
tips on preferred equipment, given your camera's capabilities. Schedule
When the birds arrive, and in what concentrations. This probably means
very short notice: "OK, we're on for this weekend, birds are here in
quantity, and hopefully they'll stick around until then."
I'll be setting up before dawn. If you come later, you'll miss the
morning rush, and the birds may not find your feeder. I'll have up to 5
feeders out, so hopefully, there will be some feeders that the birds
are already used to. There will be another, slower session, in the
evening, probably from 5 to sunset. We might do the evening session on
a Friday, so we can spend time then working on setup, exposure, focus,
camera and flash and other technical issues. Then, the following
morning, when birds are more likely, we can hopefully repeat our setups
quickly at dawn.
My own personal schedule factors:
I might do this more than one weekend in a row, if the bird population
still seems to be rising during the week after the first session.
Obviously, you could "practice" on your own in between such sessions,
if there are more than one, or keep coming back to this thread, to ask
If you're interested let me know. If anybody DOES have a reliable
supply of spring Ruby Throats in the area, and wants to volunteer to
"host" the session(s) or provide an alternate site if the birds abandon
me, then that might help.
You might want to bring any equipment that would help you
photograph my yard birds, in case the hummers abandon us. I have fairly
reliable titmice, chickadees, mockingbirds, brown thrashers, and often
blue jays, with occasional visitors of numerous other kinds.
Maybe you'll be able to teach me some things, too. I'm not a very
good birder, for example, and my garden could use some help, too. Maybe
you can even give me photographic inspiration. There's nothing like a
good student to improve the teacher!
If you're a relatively inexperienced photographer, we should probably begin discussing technique NOW.
It's never too soon to do test setups, and to take some
practice shots to make sure that you'll be prepared when the birds
come. Email me questions, which I'll post here, along with my replies.
I may also write weekly discussions of some of the topics involved, and
suggest practical ways to test your setup to get an idea for how well
it will work.
Warning: I'm a quirky guy with a bad memory. While I can teach, it takes a special kind of tolerance to be able to listen to what I have to offer.
However, I consider that for anybody that's read this far, it would be well worth the time and effort to attend.
I have one tentative "taker" on this offer so far, so don't wait until there are more people than I can handle.
I'm on a medical disability for my memory and other related issues, so for you, that's a good thing.
That means that I may be able to hold other sessions weekdays as well, as your schedule and mine permit.
Even so, I can only manage so many people, logistically.