Photo: Rolf Nussbaumer
Perhaps the only thing that thumps faster than a hummingbird’s wings—which can beat more than 50 times per second—is the heart of a photographer shooting one of these vibrant creatures.
“I grew up in Switzerland, and we don’t have hummingbirds in Europe, so I’m fascinated by them,” says Rolf Nussbaumer, a nature photographer who’s now based in Texas.
In late summer, the Lone Star State becomes a great place to see ruby-throated hummingbirds as they migrate from eastern North America through Texas to their winter home in Central America. Indeed, while Nussbaumer has traveled as far as Costa Rica and Ecuador to shoot hummingbirds, he found this one feeding on a cluster of yellow bells in his backyard in New Braunfels, just outside San Antonio.
“You can use a pretty short lens to achieve a good picture, but then you have to sit really close and still,” he advises amateur shutterbugs. “For this one, I used a 600-mm lens. It gives me more flexibility to be further back, and then the birds aren’t quite as skittish.”
As for why he loves the birds, Nussbaumer explains, “They’re basically little helicopters. And they’re just very feisty.”