During the summer of 2020, Stan Maupin found himself with some time on his hands. Like most of us, he was spending his days at home instead of the office and decided to try his hand at photography. Inspired by the hummingbirds who visited his backyard, he began learning more about his DSLR. But it was a challenge by his son that would push him to his creative limits.
After reading an article about the work of photographer and videographer Christian Spencer, Maupin's son challenged him to take similar photos. Spencer's hummingbird images, which show the sun shining through their wings, creating a rainbow effect, were quite challenging to execute. As summer winded down, and hummingbird season came to an end, Maupin was able to head to his backyard and give it a try.
“I moved to the chair, took a wild guess at settings, lifted the camera when a hummer approached the feeder, looked into the lens, and fired away,” he tells My Modern Met. “When I looked at the 200 or so photos I took in the next hour, I saw one with the tiniest hint of colors coming through the bird’s wings. I didn’t know it that night, but I was hooked.”
As hummingbird season in Maupin's area is only two months long, it would be an extra 10 months before he'd get another chance to replicate Spencer's work. Over the course of that year, Maupin worked to improve his photography skills and master the technical aspects that are critical to making this type of shot work.
Unfortunately, the following summer, the weather was an issue. Clear skies are critical for this type of photography, and the weather just didn't cooperate. While this was disappointing, it allowed Maupin to improve the non-technical aspects of the photoshoot. This included building a custom birdfeeder that sat on a tripod and making a styrofoam shade to block his lens from being fried by the sun. By the time summer 2022 rolled around, Maupin was ready.
The results of his work are incredible, with his time and dedication clearly paying off. Throughout the series, we clearly see a beautiful rainbow in the hummingbirds' wings. Crisp and clear, the photos are a triumph over a difficult challenge. His success is a beautiful look at how anyone can pick up a camera and create something special if they just are willing to push themselves.
“I cannot hope to add very much to the photos taken by Christian Spencer, but I think I can share that you don’t have to have the unique talents and dedication of a world-famous artist/photographer/naturalist to create images that you will be proud of and that others will enjoy,” Maupin shares.
“I hope this helps others stretch their expectations,” he continues. “I was inspired to stretch even my most optimistic hope for what I could accomplish in photography, and I have continued to tackle projects that challenge me technically, physically, and artistically.”
As for Maupin, he's continuing with his photography journey and recently won third place in the Washington Post Travel Photo Contest with a picture of the Milky Way taken on a deserted beach.