Sword-billed hummingbird - in flight approach II, Jardin, Colombia
This is my personal favorite of the few in-flight shots I got of this amazing bird. Out of the other shots, this one has the best angle, it is completely cleared from the feeder itself, and does not suffer from hard flash effects. I also like the wing blur to indicate how fast it needs to beat its wing to keep in the air.
There is no spectacular "making of" or special skill involved here. The approach is a tele to have some distance, a strong head flash that can cover this distance, auto focus (so no prefocus), and simply trying many many times. Out of a few hundred attempts, I failed almost all of them because auto focus was too late to lock on, the bird had already moved on. Prefocus does not seem fruitful to me as you cannot foresee the depth at which the bird will appear, so it will never really be fully in focus.
The funny thing is, the camera I took this with (D850) was brand new and I was still learning it on this trip. Now I know it has continuous AF with 3D tracking, which would probably have a dramatically increased success rate.
So looking back, I compensated pure ignorance with sheer persistence. Here's another one taken about 30 mins later:
The sword-billed hummingbird is a neotropical species of hummingbird from the Andean regions of South America. It is the sole member of the genus ''Ensifera'' and is characterized by its unusually long bill size; it is the only bird to have a beak longer than the length of its body. ''E. ensifera'' uses its bill to drink nectar from flowers with long corollas and has coevolved with the species ''Passiflora mixta''. While most hummingbirds preen using their bills, ''E. ensifera'' must use its feet.. more