jet jockeys

August 05, 2018  •  6 Comments

This slang term used to describe pilots of jet fighter aircraft is the term I frequently associate with hummingbirds.  Their speed and agility in the air is nothing less than astonishing, and their flight techniques never cease to amaze me.  Because they are only seasonal visitors to this area, I try to photograph the flying wonders several times while they are in residence, from mid-April until late September.  Last week, I did "hummingbird isometrics", hand-holding my 70-200 mm lens during three different sessions with them, yielding some interesting results.

The first and third sessions, I worked in shutter priority, using 1/200 of a second shutter speed.  This will stop a moderate amount of action, but certainly not the wings of a hummingbird.  Thus, the blur.  But you can get some really interesting effects, as shown below.  The beak seems to be piercing the air.

hummingbird abstracthummingbird abstract

Luckily, that shutter speed caught the tongue of this rufous hummingbird, hovering.

hummingbird hovering 2hummingbird hovering 2

 Another female jet jockey was working as "feeder guard" and already has some damage to her tail feathers.  

hummingbird hovering 3hummingbird hovering 3

The female shown below has also seen some action, as reflected by the tears in her flight feathers.  According to, the rufous are the most maneuverable of all the hummingbirds, and they also have the longest migration route.  They have been seen in every state and Canadian provence except Quebec and Prince Edward Island.  I was able to stop the wing action using 1/5,000 second shutter speed.

hummingbird hovering 1Ahummingbird hovering 1A


until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]




lawrence T. Jones(non-registered)
Daryl, there were no images to see when I opened your blog. I have missed all of these wonderful hummer images! Wonder what happened? My friend in Saltillo told me tonight that you and she exchanged info on the hummers. Conchita loves your blog.
FANTABUILOUS captures!!!!!!!!
Wayne Gesterfield(non-registered)
Very nice. The hummingbirds in my yard are way to fast and don't stay long enough in one place for me to grab a shot.
Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
These are awesomeresults from your shutter experimentation! I personally love blurred images. I see them as painterly and always igniting the imagination! Great images, Daryl!
Steve Immel(non-registered)
These are simply fabulous, Daryl! It's great to see the different results from your shutter speed experiments. All blur is very abstract, beaks in focus with blurred wings is classic and the stop motion in the final shot is a rare capture. One of your finest series. Do you have a favorite?
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