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Page 9 Nate Chappell

Written By onci on Wednesday, July 15, 2009 | 2:23 AM

The Hummingbirds of Ecuador. by Nate Chappell

Ecuador
is perhaps the best country in the world for photographing hummingbirds. 132 resplendent species are resident to this smaller country, which is half the size of Texas. In addition there are a variety of ecolodges which cater to birdwatchers and bird photographers.

These lodges attract hundreds of hummingbirds with their feeders, each with a dozen or more different species. The species vary from lodge to lodge so it’s important to visit several different lodges on a trip.

Some of the better lodges to photograph them at include Sachatamia Lodge near Mindo, Tandaypa Bird Lodge on the western slope and Guango Lodge and Cabanas San Isidro on the eastern slope.

Getting nice portraits with clean backgrounds can be at times challenging because of the amount of foliage in the cloud forest areas that these lodges are located. When I want to make a perched portrait of a hummingbird first I look to see which perches they are regularly using. Then I pick one out with a pleasing background that is not too close to the perch in order for it to be rendered out of focus when I take the image.

The settings for these shots is often in the shade in fairly low light. To deal with this photographically I use a mix of flash and ambient light. I will usually shoot in aperture priority at about the highest iso that my camera can handle without producing much noise. Oftentimes with the Canon MkIII this is at iso 800. I then will set some negative compensation on my flash unit, usually between -1.3 and 1.7. I find this combination of natural light and fill flash creates attractive, well lit images that don’t look overflashed.

This is a bit off topic, but I have to say that Ecuador has been particularly kind to me as that’s where I met my beautiful wife, Angelica.

If anyone is interested in photographing the hummingbirds and other great birds of Ecuador, Angie and I are leading a nature photography tour there this January. We will have a multi-flash setup going which I will describe in the future on this blog which will make getting great flight shots of these beauties a breeze. We will be staying at 3 lodges which are all excellent for hummingbird photography. To check out our January tour, please visit our website at www.trogontours.net

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