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Manteca physician captures hummingbirds
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One of the many photos that Manteca physician Anil Sain captured on a photo safari to British Columbia. - photo by Photo by Dr. Anil Sain

Things have been humming lately for Dr. Anil Sain, M.D.
The Manteca physician — who has captured images of big cats in the jungles – took aim at smaller prey photographing humming birds during a British Columbia workshop at the secluded Bull River Guest Ranch in the Canadian Rockies.
His large mounted color photographs are on display in his office hallway between his patients’ exam rooms to view and enjoy along with the flowers and big cats he has photographed in past years.
Sain flew to Kalispell, Montana and rented a car that took him 130 miles to the Cranbrook, British Columbia. There he joined nature photographers John Gerlach and Scott Bechtel with some nine other photographers from around the country to photograph several species of the tiny birds that return every year in May and June.
The Calliope, Rufous and Black Chinned hummingbirds species are drawn to large feeders that are put out at night – searching out the nectar as they do in the back yards of homes in Manteca.  Every morning the large feeders are taken down and replaced by small “thumbnail” feeders that the birds quickly find.
Sain said the “thumbnail” set of flowers is surrounded by four electronic flash units with a speed that near 10,000th of a second and freezes the flapping wings of the small humming birds in flight.  It can be like having patience while fishing with not a bird coming by sometimes for two hours, he said.  A tripod for the camera is a must, he noted, for capturing the three-inch-long birds with heartbeats of 1,250 beats per minute.
The pictures can be taken with natural light at a shutter speed of 1/1250 of a second but it will not stop the flapping of the wings without use of the flash, he said.  The wings will be blurred. Dr. Sain said he also uses a lens opening of f.18 to give the sharpest photos and greatest depth of field in the set.
There were five high-speed flash stations and two natural light sets.  Each participating photographer is given the opportunity to photograph for seven hours daily with both flash and natural light. 
Sain noted that every station is unique with the use of a variety of flowers and backgrounds in the setups providing a diversity of images.  The natural light stations are available for use when photographers are not shooting on a flash station.
The three species of the hummingbirds at the ranch are said to be especially beautiful while the “Black Chinned” is quite handsome.  About 50 percent of the hummingbirds are Calliope and 40 percent are the Rufous vriety.  Only about 10 per cent are Black Chinned but they seem to learn the photo setups easily, he said.
Sain uses his Canon digital camera with a 100/400 zoom lens in his nature photography.
He is now getting ready for another photo safari to Antarctica where he plans to photograph penguins, seals and visit Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton’s grave – an explorer of note who made a historic trip with the Trans Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917 to the South Pole with his ship being crushed by ice.   Shackleton had walked back across the ice to South Georgia Island to rescue his crew.  Sain said he had requested to be buried someday near the crash site of his ship near the South Pole.
Sain’s previous safari trips have included Ecuador, Costa Rica and Columbia.
Photographs of hummingbirds are available at

To contact Glenn Kahl, email