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Old 17th of October 2011 (Mon)   #1
zamami
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Default Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Hi all

Was out the other day experimenting with my flash as it was pretty overcast. I was taking photos of birds about 20 feet away and experimenting with the power of my manual flash ( from low right up until max )The flash didn't seem to make any difference at all. Is that usually the case or will I only notice it if I add a flash extender? I don't know if using the flash is a benefit or not? Any thoughts please!
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Old 17th of October 2011 (Mon)   #2
Stevie 202
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Flash light drops off quickly so it's pretty much useless at those distances.

I will use a better beamer flash extender on those accasions when the birds are under the foliage in the shadows and it definately does help.

The only downsides are the bulk of the thing and that you will get a 'steel eye' effect.
It's a trade-off between that and not getting the shot.

Cheers
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Old 17th of October 2011 (Mon)   #3
CDMOOSE
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

I just finished culling my bird photos from the last two years and I can say that I had way more keepers since I started using a flash and Better Beamer when required. And I find that steel eye is not as big a problem as I thought. It does happen occasionally, though not always, but is easily dealt with when it does.
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Old 17th of October 2011 (Mon)   #4
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Flash definitely helps to fill in the shadowy areas.

Here are some photos of flash + BB:




Then there's some problems with using flash such as red-eyes as seen in the show below:


I've put an order of a fairly inexpensive flash bracket for my side-mount Gimbal to try out in the next little while. Also light is getting less and less in my area, and it will be a great opportunity to test out some bird photography with flash.
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Old 4th of November 2011 (Fri)   #5
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

I personally have never liked the look of a flash on birds. There have been a few cases where a flash was used on a bird and it looked natural (I really liked it), but most the time to me the catch-light and the birds feathers just doesn't look the same as natural lighting.

The only time I use flash on birds is when photographing owls at dusk; and I still cringe when I have too.
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Old 5th of November 2011 (Sat)   #6
Kevin Hall
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Just about all flash for bird photography is done where the flash is coming from the same direction as the camera. This can produce some nice results, such as the image in this thread demonstrate, but it doesn't reach it's lighting potential.

Using the flash from a different position than the camera can give the bird more definition, produce sharper results, add drama, and can even have the effect of being softer light if you position the flash closer to the bird. Remember that with smaller light sources like a speedlight, the farther away from the subject you are - the harder the effect will be.

Some examples:







On the woodpecker I even bounced the flash off an umbrella from a short distance to the Downy.
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Old 10th of November 2011 (Thu)   #7
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

I pretty much always use Flash these days when shooting birds, it really helps bring the colours out and eliminate most shadows. You may need to look at a Better Beamer as well, depending on how far away your subject is.

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Old 19th of November 2011 (Sat)   #8
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Quote:
Originally Posted by piXelatedEmpire View Post
I pretty much always use Flash these days when shooting birds, it really helps bring the colours out and eliminate most shadows. You may need to look at a Better Beamer as well, depending on how far away your subject is.
I'm going to go ahead and say that there is too much flash your Orange-bellied Parrot photo. The complete lack of shadow makes it look flat and the weird iridescence effect present, is misrepresenting the plumage colour of this bird. I'd suggest dialling down the flash exposure compensation and using a bit more natural light.
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Old 21st of November 2011 (Mon)   #9
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noodle_snacks View Post
there is too much flash your Orange-bellied Parrot photo. The complete lack of shadow makes it look flat and the weird iridescence effect present, is misrepresenting the plumage colour of this bird. I'd suggest dialling down the flash exposure compensation and using a bit more natural light.
Oh I agree with you, but unfortunately there really wasn't much natural light to begin with. This was shot at 1/40th, so I had to crank the flash, which caused the side effects you mentioned.
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Old 9th of December 2011 (Fri)   #10
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

I know I'm late to the party, but Kevin, awesome shots man...
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Old 9th of December 2011 (Fri)   #11
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Thank you, glad you liked them.

In my view, as long as you are setting up for a shot you have everything to gain by using studio lighting techniques with off camera flashes. Why not?

Here's another example using a 43" umbrella close to the finch and from my left......

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Old 9th of December 2011 (Fri)   #12
macroshooter1970
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Flash can help at times, I personally tried it once but wasn't for me.
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Old 9th of December 2011 (Fri)   #13
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin Hall View Post
Thank you, glad you liked them.

In my view, as long as you are setting up for a shot you have everything to gain by using studio lighting techniques with off camera flashes. Why not?

Here's another example using a 43" umbrella close to the finch and from my left......

Nice shot.
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Old 18th of December 2011 (Sun)   #14
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

The Better Beamer is at times indispensable. When shadows kill what could
be a great photo the BB is perfect. Though it is somewhat difficult to perfect,
I have seen folks use them for birds in flight to lighten the underside of the bird.
For less than $40 it's well worth the expense.
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Old 30th of December 2011 (Fri)   #15
N.V.M.
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Default Re: Bird photography - flash. Is it worthwhile?

hey guys, does anybody here not get critisized for using flash on birds?

do you have rules, for instance, not on nocturnals(owls, etc)?

i'm getting grief from the purists yet i do not seem to be able to find the facts about it.
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