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Old Apr 30, 2005, 2:07 PM   #1
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I was suprised to hear that you guys thought flash was generally not usable in wildlife photography. So, here is a little lesson on using flash as main light.

Using flash as main light is when you use the flash as the actual light source, instead of complimenting the existing light. Such as at night or when they're is very low light and your shutter speed would be too slow to be effective with the existing light. By speeding up your SS and using more flash, the resulting image is not underexposed. Flash as main is much more difficult so as to not make the image look "overflashed", but it can be used effectively with the right technique and amount of flash.

As an example, I will prove two photographs of the same subject with flash an without.

The first, a Silhouette, is a great technique where the contrast between the subject (the goose), and the background (the water) is more than a 3 stop difference. By exposing for the background (I use manual exposure, and set the water at a +1 tonality), as a result, the dark goose, will end up at a tonality of -2 (because of the 3 stop difference.. +1 - 3 = -2). -2 is registered as completely black, and on the opposite side of things, +2 is completely white. So, by setting the water at +1, I have effectively rendered the water at a "bright" tone (+1, halfway between 0 (midtone), and +2 (extremely bright/white), and the goose at a -2 (extremely dark/black), provided the end result of a Silhouette.

Now, I love silhouettes, but what if you wanted to try something different? With the use of flash this is possible. For my next example, using flash as main light, I set the background water at +1 yet again, but this time introduced flash into the equation to light up the goose. The goose as recieving no light on it's own, because it was at a -2 tonality, but because of the flash, I have given detail to the goose, and still retained the orange water, which would not be possible to do without flash because I would have had to made the water a +2 (white), making the goose a -1 to give it detail.

I hope this helps someone. Here are the examples.

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Old Apr 30, 2005, 2:09 PM   #2
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I don't know how to attach 2 pictures, so here is the second.

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Old Apr 30, 2005, 2:20 PM   #3
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Wow.....this is illuminating...no pun intended. Love the sihlouette. I have used flash on wildlife before, not with a great deal of success, because there's only been a couple times when I got close enough, and both times I wasn't able to get quite enough light to the subject. Deer have these huge eyes that do alien things to light as well. But, this is a very nice example to study, thanks, best regards...

KennethD


Just a quick note from my memory...I dont't think "we" dismissed the use of flash in wildlife photography. To be more accurate, it was more a specific instance. The remark, taken in context made perfect sense, and was not intended to be used as a directive against flash in all wildlife settings.
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 2:37 PM   #4
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Thank you very much, Chris. There is lots of interest here for wildlife photography and your examples are beautiful very helpful. A member got a good Jab at me when I first mentioned using flash for wildlife photography. Unfortunately, I had no good examples of my own to provide so you've filled that void.

Rodney
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 2:56 PM   #5
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Perhaps you might be able to help me, Chris. From time to time I will get the chance to get very close to deer. For whatever reason, in this one particulair place, I see them almost always in low light settings at the end of the day. They are so tame, getting close isn't too difficult and they don't even spook when I use my flash, but I can never seem to eleiminate that wicked eyeball reflection, even when I shoot from an angle, or from the side. Now, having said that, what range do you advise for your bird shots, using flash? I myself have geese nearby, and might try to experiment with a shot like you've posted. Beyond a certain range, obviously it would be impossible to use a flash. If you don't object, I'd like to post a shot to illustrate my problem, in this post. Best regards,

KennethD
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 3:05 PM   #6
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Post anything you want, no problem with me.

All big mammals are a problem when using flash. The way to reduce steel-eye (blue colored red-eye.. found in mammals / birds) is not by moving your angle relative to the deer, but to get the flash as far away from the lens as possible. Either by using a flash bracket, or an off camera shoe cord, and then holding the fash yourself as far away from the camera as possible. Either that, or get rid of it in photoshop. Really though, I try to avoid flash on mammals. Not only because of steel-eye, but because it get's rid of texture in their fur because flash by nature is a very direct flat lightning, while natural lighting a bit from the side will illimunate each hair giving some detail.

About ranges.. the photo/composition always take priority over flash. I don't try to get within a certain distance to use flash, I just use flash from whatever distance is needed to make the photo work.


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Old Apr 30, 2005, 3:16 PM   #7
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Ok, but specifics, or even a rough idea on distance would help. In this shot, I was able to use flash, but I feel by muting the flash I missed a good shot, even tho it did cut down on the eye reflection. edit...I know some eagle eye will see this is an elk, not a deer, but never fear, I have even worse deer shots. (blush....maybe this year I'll improve)
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 3:31 PM   #8
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With a better beamer, You can get consistently good results within 40 feet of a subject.

Judging by the background brightness of that shot, I don't even know if flash was neccesary. The real problem lies in the noise present. Some technical info would help more.. shutter speed / aperture, and ISO.
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 3:45 PM   #9
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I'll dig around and see if I can find the original. This one is one I know I edited and fooled around with contrast, etc. so it isn't as dark as the original by any stretch. May have to wait for a while, as in tomorrow, if I can find it at all. Thanks, best regards,

KennethD
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Old Apr 30, 2005, 3:57 PM   #10
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Foundit. Surprised to see the settings and it looks like it might have been a point and shoot setting. ISO 200 aperture 3.5 shutter 1/180...? so, this result isn't that surprising....ouch...
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