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7/31-8/2/2015 - Larry Cowles - I’ve always been fascinated with Hummingbirds, so fast, so colorful, and so small and dainty. They have many of the attributes that attract photographers yet make them hard to shoot. Years ago while living in Bakersfield one of the better Nature photographers, Theron McCuen, would make trips to Madera Canyon, AZ and come back with award winning Hummingbird images. He used a flash set-up with 4-5 strobes and other special equipment which cost more than I wanted to invest. Years later I found that Arizona Highways has three-day workshops to photograph Hummingbirds and I signed up for my first Hummingbird adventure to Madera Canyon. It was great; they provide the gear (except for camera and tripod), set up feeders, teach you techniques for getting great images, and provide critiques of your work.

The workshop is limited to eight participants. There are four work stations with feeders, two photographers to a station, each photographer taking turns as the birds come to the feeders. They provide transportation from Phoenix, leaving around 8AM, arriving about Noon. You go straight to the work station and start photographing. This gets you used to the set-up and you have a better understanding of the process when the trip leader presents a projected how-to program. To make sure everyone gets a chance at the good work stations, each pair rotates about every two hours, giving everyone a chance for different settings. You start with images of birds coming into a feeder, then set up different arrangements of flowers which really make the better images.

Bruce Helping Student

Workshop Participants

Overall Setup

Hummingbird Workstation

Flower Holder

I found Bruce Taubert, the workshop leader, to be very hard working, always patiently trying to make sure you get the images you want, answering questions, and there when there’s a problem. Bruce recently retired as the Assistant Director for Wildlife Management at the Arizona Game and Fish Department. He has a PhD in wildlife management and has been a photographer for over 40 years. He’s taught a Wildlife Photography course at Paradise Valley Community College for several years. He has been published in Arizona Highways, WildBird, Birders World, Arizona Wildlife Views, Conservation International, Bat Conservation International, and more. For more about Arizona Highways Photo Workshops:  http://www.ahpw.org/workshops.

Set-up with White Frame

In five years, I’ve taken this workshop four times. Because the lack of water in the Madera Canyon has reduced the number of birds; the workshop is now held in the high mountain area near Springerville, AZ at an elevation of about 7000 feet. This has a large numbers of birds, a little cooler climate, and different species than in Madera Canyon.