Most of these photos are Anna's hummingbirds from northern California, unless otherwise labeled.
Reading up on hummingbird photography, the general consensus was that it requires a flash. I bought an aftermarket flash unit, a Sunpak 244D which does TTL metering with my Nikon FG. (I use the FG because it has a winder, which is important: the birds don't seem to mind having a camera near the feeder once they get used to the sound of the shutter, and they don't mind the flash at all, but they prefer it if I stay farther away, so I use the winder and a long bulb release to trip the shutter.)
I was astounded at the instant gratification I got using the TTL flash. I couldn't take as many pictures, because it took the flash up to 8 seconds to recycle, so I was lucky if I get two shots of the same bird before it drinks its fill and flies away (then I have to wait ten or fifteen minutes for the next visitor to the feeder). But I got a high success rate on the shots I did get.
These are handheld shots while I sit on the back porch chatting with friends and waiting for the rufous hummingbird to show up. There was also a calliope hummer and a black-chinned, but none of them stayed long enough at the feeder for me to catch them.
Armed with my 2-day-old Rebel Xsi, I sat on the porch across from
the feeder waiting for customers. All I got was the Anna's male who
currently rules this feeder with an iron ... um, wing: after he
feeds, he zips over to the orange tree ten feet away and waits
in hiding so he can harrass the females who try to visit the feeder.
The little tyrant ... I did get a few decent shots of him, though,
this one being the best.
A month or two later I was better equipped, with a custom remote shutter cable that lets me sit in the office (where the birds aren't disturbed by my presence) and click away. Most shots still don't come out, but if you shoot enough of them you can get a few gems.
I have the feeder right outside my window, so I get to see the hummers up close. But there's a screen between me and them, which hurts image quality. Still, now and then I get something I like. I especially like the shot of this male flying off (I set the camera in burst mode and kept firing until he was gone). Sometimes people ask me whether hummingbirds have feet. You can see their feet in most of these shots, but this one is especially good for doubters.