Hummingbirds are fascinating little creatures that are big on curiosity and entertainment. We keep three feeders around the house and are rewarded each season with their playful antics. They often come and go in a flash but will also sit to feed or just hover for a moment before disappearing.
Because they move about so fast I've found most success by staging myself in the sunroom of our home (my blind) with open windows and camera at the ready. Depending on the amount and direction of available light I'll either use an external flash or not with a shutter speed of 1/500s or 1/250s as for all of the shots here. Though I've completely stopped motion with 1/4000s or 1/8000s, most times I prefer some blur in the wings for that sense of action.
Once in while I've been fortunate to see them in the field and even more fortunate to grab a successful shot of them there. In the beginning when I started photographing hummingbirds I used a tripod with the older Nikon 300 f/4 lens trained on the feeder and employed a cable release to get the shots. Of course, most of those were of a stationary bird feeding. Nice shots of the bird, but not very exciting. You can see some of those photos here.
Earlier this year I obtained the new Nikon 300 f/4E lens and changed the way I shoot them. Since this lens has built-in vibration reduction (VR) and is very light and nimble the tripod sat off to the side collecting dust while I shot handheld. Oh, I still use it for other duties as it is an indispensable tool; it just didn't get used for these photos which left me free to move around in my "blind" looking for the right angle from which to shoot the light depending on the direction the bird was facing when it came in.
They have left us for the winter now but will be back next year and I'll be ready for more action and the sheer enjoyment of watching them zip around and play and chase each other. And as is my goal every time I shoot, I hope to come away with even better (read, more exciting) photos next time.