Behind The Shot: Remote Birding

Behind The Shot: Remote Birding

Behind The Shot is a recurring feature where we dig deeper and find the backstories that accompany amazing photos. Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Anna's Hummingbird Nest

Photographer: Michael Chen

Gear: Nikon D3Nikon 400mm f/2.8D AF-S, TC-14E II 1.4x, Nikon SB-900 SpeedlightsPocket Wizard MultiMAX transceiversManfrotto Magic Arms, Gitzo 3-series Tripod

Settings: ISO 1600, f/9, 1/250 – Flash Power @ 1/16

Backstory: One of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve been getting is how I shot the hummingbird nests with the mother feeding her chick.  Most of the time, I actually trigger a camera remotely using Pocket Wizard MultiMAX transceivers.  A remote camera allows me to keep some distance between me and the nest, lessening the amount of attention I draw to the nest area.  In general, nesting hummingbirds in a suburban environment do not mind a human presence and adapt quickly to a humans that they perceive as nonthreatening; however, one’s presence will draw and hold the attention of predators, such as crows and jays, and make it easier for the nest to be discovered.  The angles I can shoot from are also expanded by using the remote camera, as I can squeeze the camera and lens into places where it would be hard for me to be looking through the viewfinder.

Here, I’ve taken advantage of a nearby tree house-type structure and have placed the still camera on a tripod; the tree house allows me to simply use a tripod instead of having to be more creative in safely suspending the camera up in a tree.  The lens on the Nikon D3 camera is a Nikon 400mm f/2.8D AF-S; the tripod used here is a Gitzo 3-series.  I used a TC-14E II 1.4x teleconverter on the 400mm f/2.8 to fill more of the frame with the hummingbird and her nest, though I ultimately still had to crop off quite a bit of empty space.  Two SB-900 flashes, also triggered by the Pocket Wizard MultiMAX transceivers (using the relay mode function), freeze the motion of the mother and chick, and allowing me to shoot at f/16 for sufficient depth of field to keep everything important in focus.  The flashes are held in place by Manfrotto Magic Arms and allow me to position the flashes wherever I need them.

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After I set everything up- carefully and hopefully unnoticed by predators- all I have left to do is find a place to stay out of sight while being able to observe when the mother has returned to the nest, and then trigger the camera to make some images.  Remaining vigilant and patient at the same time is key to capturing the mother feeding the chick, as while the mother will feed the chick many times per hour, the actual moment of feeding is quick and fleeting; one can easily miss the mother entirely even while positioned close to the nest.

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More of Michael’s hummingbird photos can be seen here and here.

Check out more of Michael’s work on his website.

If you like this photo be sure to share it! Do you have an awesome photo or know of one that we might want to feature? Send us an email!

Things to Know about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Raw Update (with Some Sample Footage)

Things to Know about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera Raw Update (with Some Sample Footage)

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera is one of the newest additions to our inventory, and is already in demand — every single unit we currently have in our inventory is checked out for the next two weeks at least, so get your orders in as soon as possible. This tiny little package packs a wallop when it comes to delivering outstanding image quality, and as of a couple of weeks ago, it is also the smallest camera in the world that shoots RAW video. read more…

What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

What (Else) to Know When Renting the Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back

A while back, we did a piece on what to know when renting Hasselblad H4X Medium Format Camera w/ 80MP IQ280 Digital Back. Medium format gear is a pretty different creature from your standard DSLR, even your high-end Canon 1Dx and Nikon D4’s. Like my colleague Alex Huff pointed out, it can be “perhaps a little scary.”

Here are a few more things you should keep in mind when shooting with the Medium Format gear, especially with the 80MP IQ280 Phase One back.

read more…

10 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

10 Carry On Friendly Photo and Video Accessories for Holiday Plane Travel

Plane travel can be a source of anxiety for photographers. Checking bags isn’t safe for most gear and being able to skip the baggage claim carousels is always a bonus anyway – especially around the holidays. There are a lot of small items to shoot with, including high-quality mirrorless cameras, tiny lenses, and small flash gear. However, it is sometimes hard to skimp on support systems, lighting, and storage in order to save space. Rolling bags, tripods, and light stands all tend to be a pain to try and take on a plane. read more…

Cool Stuff — November 24, 2013

Cool Stuff — November 24, 2013

Welcome to Cool Stuff, a recurring feature where we post our favorite links, including our favorite articles and how-tos, videos, images and more.

Cool Stuff articles are culled from BLFlip, the official Flipboard Magazine of BorrowLenses.com. If you’ve got an iOS or Android device, you can download the Flipboard app for free now.

  • We begin this edition of Cool Stuff with an update about one of our favorite new cameras: The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera. This diminutive thing can now shoot RAW! We’ve got some footage in the editing bay now, so stay tuned for more on this. read more…

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