kathleen Elam - jpg

I  have faithfully fed hummingbirds for the past twelve years and have been fortunate enough to live where I can attract over fifty birds at one time.   When I bought a nice camera in 2012, I started taking photographs of the hummingbirds I would feed on my balcony.  There was a long learning curve to be able to “freeze” their wings.  I began by photographing them in mid-air.  But as time passed I would buy backdrops and flowers and found a way to capture the hummingbirds as they visited each bloom in the normal course of their day.  Photographing the birds with the flower is twice as rewarding.  And having the bird and flower in the photograph adds a special synergy.

A lot of extra equipment is required to get the shots I capture.  A backdrop is always a must.  I have at least four remote flashes and another flash on my camera.  The flash equipment is programmable as to the length of the flash.  Controlling the  light is the only way to “stop” the hummingbird wings in mid-air.  I also have to be able to get really close to them, which requires familiarity and trust.  It also helps to put sugar water in the flowers to attract the birds and get them to “pose” longer.

After the photographs are taken, I bring them into Photoshop for cropping, clarity and sharpening.  Most photographs do not require much work, but there are some that require quite a bit of time.  I find creating and improving photographs in Photoshop is an art in itself.

There are times when I stand still near the hummingbird feeders and allow the hummingbirds to fly all around me.  There is a magic to the wind that comes off the vibrations of their wings that makes me realize how special these small creatures really are and how much they have to teach us. When I photograph them, I try to imagine what it would be like to be that tiny little bird and try to see what it sees as the flower comes into view.  They are remarkable, flying miracles and I am always in awe in their presence.  It is a privilege and an honor to have such magical, spiritual subjects for my photographs.