A Matter of Depth of Field….and a Juvenile Rufous Hummingbird

Photographing birds seems to be a never ending learning process. I have been a believer if one wants to hone their outdoor photography skills practice on hummingbirds. There are many aspects of photography one can learn from photographing our friends in the bird world, especially the hummingbird.

One aspect which we all have to keep an eye on while shooting outdoors is depth of field. Outdoor photography is dictated by natural light and how much natural light we have dictates what settings we can use to properly expose the photograph. Those settings will dictate our depth of field.


Take, for example, these two photographs of a juvenile rufous hummingbird I photographed this summer in my yard. I sometimes take a few minutes out of the day to sit by the hummingbird feeder to enjoy their crazy antics and to practice my photography skills.

This particular day was kind of cloudy and I wanted to try and get some real good close-ups of the hummingbirds so with the low light I had to open up the aperture as far as it would go to let enough light in to stop as much motion as I could. Well, with such a large aperture comes a very short depth of field as one can see in the pictures. The tails of these tiny birds are blurred from the effects of this camera setting. Take into consideration a large lens, a 600 mm on this occasion, will also short the depth of field naturally.


This is a case where I wish I had more light and could have opened up the depth of field a bit more to allow for more of the bird to be in focus. The advantage of such a short depth of field is the background is blurred to my liking so it’s a trade off but one we often have to make whole photographing outdoors when the light is less than perfect.

Either way, I was able to spend time with this juvenile hummingbird before it headed south for the winter and even though the pictures weren’t perfect anytime spent outdoors with a camera is time well spent.

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