Last week, we featured a beautiful photo by Birds & Blooms reader Steve DeMello on our Facebook page. Not surprisingly, this unusually-framed shot was very popular with our readers, but it seemed too good to be true with some folks, who wondered, “Were those birds photoshopped into the photo?”
The answer is a resounding “No”! Steve did not manipulate this photo in any way besides some basic cropping and color adjustment. However, that doesn’t mean he just snapped a photo or two and managed to get the shot he wanted. In fact, quite a bit of work goes into taking really incredible nature photographs, and an even greater deal of patience. We went to Steve to learn more about his process, and for his tips on taking your own “framed” photos.
Tip 1: More is more.
I am lucky enough to get to work with [a large number of hummingbirds] on a daily basis during the spring. Even then it is not uncommon to take several thousand frames in a day, just looking for the “One”.
Tip 2: Location, location, location.
Once you pick the picture frame you will use, set the tripod/camera up so it will capture the image as square to the frame as possible. Doing so will allow you to crop the finished image so it fits into the frame. Second, natural light is best. However you need to constantly adjust the angle of the frame so the shadows are somewhat controlled. A little fill light can add color and detail and extend your natural shooting light. You will want some shadows as they add a 3D effect.
Tip 3: Let’s get technical.
When shooting shutter speeds high enough to freeze wings in motion it can be tricky to capture enough “Depth of Field” so both the hummingbirds and flowers are in focus. The only way I found to do this is to set the camera up at least 20 feet away from the frame. I use a Canon 7D with a 100-400mm lens. The settings that these images were taken are f/5, 1/4000 sec exposure time, 150 mm focal length at about 25 feet away.
We think Steve’s hard work was certainly worth it, as it yielded an unusual, interesting, and well-composed photograph. We’re so glad he shared! Did you miss this photo on our Facebook page? Click here to “Like” us and be sure to check “Show in News Feed” so you get all of our posts and photo updates.