Aug 12, 2017

Jim Ciarico has had a passion for capturing the extraordinary in the everyday since his kids were born. That passion is what led him to develop a fascination with macro videography. In the heart of the summer of 2014, Jim went into his backyard in San Jose, Calilf., to see what he could find and record. He came across a hummingbird, and although small, capturing the tiny, high-energy bird up close is a huge feat considering they flap their wings an average of 50 times per second. Challenge accepted.

GoPro caught up with Jim to find out how he captured the fleeting moment up close.


GoPro: Where did you come up with the idea to shoot this video?
Jim Ciarico: Living in the heart of Silicon Valley, I’m still amazed at how many creatures, other than humans, continue to make this place their home in the middle of a big city. Waking up in the early morning in the summer, you can hear so many birds that you’d think you were in the country. This inspired me to put a hummingbird feeder out to see if I could capture the beauty of them feeding—it reminds me of an airplane refueling midair. My goal was to see how close I could actually get without scaring them away.

How were you able to capture this amazing moment?
The backyard in the morning sun is perfect lighting for trying to shoot hummingbirds feeding, so I put the camera on a microphone stand about 5 inches from the feeder and set the camera to Narrow mode so everything was in focus.

I also made a DIY macro lens by removing a lens from a 37mm 2x zoom camcorder and attaching it to a 25mm conversion ring. I slipped both over the barrel of the GoPro and connected to the GoPro app, so I could sit inside looking out the window. I waited until the birds arrived and pressed record.

How did you know how to capture a hummingbird in this way? 
It took a lot of trial and error and videos to see what was the best way to record. Once I figured out the expected range of the lens focus, I tried to position the camera so the background would make the hummingbird stand out and get as much of the bird in focus as possible.  This was hard because I had to estimate where the bird would feed. I used blue tape to cover the other feeding spots so the hummingbird only had one choice … by the camera.

What story did you want to tell?
I wanted to show that interesting things are all around you if you take a few minutes to look. The camera is an awesome tool to capture what’s in your mind’s eye, and GoPro is a great tool to record with. You don’t have to be a professional to get great results from these cameras.

What equipment did you use?

I used a HERO3 Black, a HERO3+ Black, a Tripod Mount, a Suction Cup, a Battery BacPac and my DIY macro lens. I think some people only look at the GoPro as an action camera, but it’s so much more than that to me. It’s also the smallest, most powerful camera that I’ve ever used. It can go places that other cameras cannot. In fact, I got rid of all my cameras and only record using a GoPro. The best compliment is when people ask me what kind of DSLR I used and I tell them it’s a GoPro—they think I’m not telling the truth.

What advice do you have for other creators?
Don't be afraid to try to use the cameras for more than just action video. Have fun and experiment. You won't be disappointed.


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