September 02, 2014, 08:38:00 PM

Author Topic: Wildlife flash?  (Read 2115 times)

Marsu42

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Wildlife flash?
« on: February 06, 2014, 09:48:28 AM »
After convincing a group of horses not to run me over or eat my flash, I finally could start using a hair light for them and would like to dicuss the best settings here. I usually use cto gel'ed flash for fill with an on-camera bracket, that's why I don't need high fps but profit from the 200mm zoom setting on the 600rt.

This is what I have recently learned (and remember just now :-)):
* flag the flash to prevent getting the light into the lens
* if metering is tricky, use remote manual (only possible with the rt flashes) and on-camera ettl
* get the flash in a position that not only a hair line is lit or it looks too much photoshopped
* the 1/4000s limit of the 6d is a problem with fast lenses
* speedlites cannot be used as key in sunlight (yes, you could have told me that...)



Do you use flash for outdoor wildlife - just for fill, or do you manage to get the critters in the correct spot? What flash setup & settings do you use? Thanks!

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Wildlife flash?
« on: February 06, 2014, 09:48:28 AM »

mackguyver

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2014, 10:19:28 AM »
Interesting setup for your photo.  The subjects I shoot are way too timid to have any hopes of positioning flashes, and I don't stage shots or use bait/feeders (just a personal choice) but I use the Better Beamer on my old 430EX sometimes.  I don't take it out unless it's cloudy or I'm in a forest, because of the very high risk of damage from the sun magnification by the fresnel lens.  The 430EX has a nice melt on the AF assist light which is why I use it vs. my newer flashes :).  Here's a shot of a barred owl in the shade that needed some fill to overcome a very bright sky:
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Marsu42

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2014, 10:49:49 AM »
Interesting setup for your photo.  but I use the Better Beamer on my old 430EX sometimes.

I really like the weight of the 430ex2 on a bracket, but I found it too weak for outdoor use ... but then again, I didn't try a better beamer but used the 105mm zoom setting. The 200mm on the 600rt has the advantage of zero clutter, just like the built-in radio which "just works", unlike the optical link outdoors.

Here's a shot of a barred owl in the shade that needed some fill to overcome a very bright sky

Let me guess ... maximum highlight recovery :-> ? This usually kills any highlight rolloff to the bright areas like with the leaves, if it's that you might want to try some "intelligent" single-shot-hdr software like DxO, Protomatrix or enfuse that tries to prevent this clipping.

mackguyver

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2014, 11:26:46 AM »
Interesting setup for your photo.  but I use the Better Beamer on my old 430EX sometimes.

I really like the weight of the 430ex2 on a bracket, but I found it too weak for outdoor use ... but then again, I didn't try a better beamer but used the 105mm zoom setting. The 200mm on the 600rt has the advantage of zero clutter, just like the built-in radio which "just works", unlike the optical link outdoors.

Here's a shot of a barred owl in the shade that needed some fill to overcome a very bright sky

Let me guess ... maximum highlight recovery :-> ? This usually kills any highlight rolloff to the bright areas like with the leaves, if it's that you might want to try some "intelligent" single-shot-hdr software like DxO, Protomatrix or enfuse that tries to prevent this clipping.
The 600RT is certainly the better flash, but like I said, I keep this old one around to use (almost exclusively) with my better beamer.  As for the processing, I'm not sure, it's been a long time since I looked at this shot (which isn't exactly my best work) but if I remember, the dynamic range was way too high to capture without fill flash and the bird was moving too much for multiple captures / HDR to work.  I'm pretty sure I used DxO to process it, but I didn't spend much time on it because it wasn't really a "keeper".
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Maximilian

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #4 on: February 06, 2014, 02:14:15 PM »
Do you use flash for outdoor wildlife - just for fill, or do you manage to get the critters in the correct spot? What flash setup & settings do you use? Thanks!
Hi Marsu!
thank you for sharing your experiences.
I usually try to avoid flash for wildlife, pets, zoo, etc.
I allways fear that the animals get scared, irritated or shocked.
I only used a flash for filling on a dragon fly macro. Look here:
http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=442.msg333811#msg333811

What I did there was nothing really special:
  • on camera flash with small diffusor cap
  • camera in full manual mode to set aperture and exposure as desired
  • flash - 2/3 ev
That's it.
sometimes you have to close your eyes to see properly.

Marsu42

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2014, 01:54:16 AM »
I usually try to avoid flash for wildlife, pets, zoo, etc.  I allways fear that the animals get scared, irritated or shocked.

I was also very hesitant first, but my experience is that most animals cannot care less about flash, and it's not surprising: In daylight, a flash from 3-5m away isn't very bright, and I don't flash owls in the eye at point blank range at night.

I only used a flash for filling on a dragon fly macro.

That's a nice one, I also like to chase behind them with fill flash, but I usually have trouble avoiding blown whites in the eye reflection - the alternative is high noise after lifting shadows :-\ ... dynamic range simply is very low in the iso regions required for handheld macro.

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2014, 02:00:32 AM »
That's a nice one, I also like to chase behind them with fill flash, but I usually have trouble avoiding blown whites in the eye reflection - the alternative is high noise after lifting shadows :-\ ... dynamic range simply is very low in the iso regions required for handheld macro.
Thank you.
I suppose, the trouble with the blown reflection can be avoided by the reduced flash ev. Try -2/3 to -1 1/3.
That was working well for me in sunlight as well as light shadows.
Of course I was lucky to take this picture in bright sunlight and so together with the flash I could darken the background even more (it was a dark green hedge).
sometimes you have to close your eyes to see properly.

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2014, 02:00:32 AM »

Marsu42

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #7 on: February 07, 2014, 02:42:40 AM »
to take this picture in bright sunlight and so together with the flash I could darken the background even more (it was a dark green hedge).

Personally, I like macros with some authentic background left, which is quite hard given the dof of macro shots. Otherwise it doesn't look like wildlife, but like a studio shot... and the "best" quality macros are taken in a studio setting with frozen, sedated, bound or simply dead animals :-(

These are from actual outdoors with a crop of the reflection, sometimes it couldn't prevent it being clipped:












Maximilian

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #8 on: February 07, 2014, 04:09:39 AM »
Personally, I like macros with some authentic background left, which is quite hard given the dof of macro shots.
Otherwise it doesn't look like wildlife, but like a studio shot...
I like both, especially if the background is interesting or even delivering some kind of "story". I my situation the hedge was simply too boring, so I was glad. And I was really glad, that my model was willing to let me get almost as close as the MFD of the 100L IS is  :)
Quote
and the "best" quality macros are taken in a studio setting with frozen, sedated, bound or simply dead animals :-(
These techniques (already discussed in this forum, I know) are absolutely against my ethics I find it disgusting to freeze or even kill an insect for just a picture.  >:( >:( >:(
I want to take pictures from living animals in their "natural environment", even if it is in a zoo, as I can't afford to travel to Africa, etc.
Quote
These are from actual outdoors with a crop of the reflection, sometimes it couldn't prevent it being clipped:
My personal opinion is that in bright sunlight some clipping can occur and often can't be avoided.
Indeed, I really love these spotty little highlights on the insects wings coming from bright sunlight.
Looking at your pictures I would say that only the first one of the brown hawker (I suppose it is) is a little bit too much, but still acceptable for me.
The others are just fine in my eyes.
And the water drop with highlight on the eye of the green hawker (is it?) is just brilliant and razor sharp. Congrats.  ;D
sometimes you have to close your eyes to see properly.

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2014, 05:32:38 AM »


No one's mentioned a flash extender, do you use one? It's what you want for your hotshoe flash. As for off-camera flashes you could do it with the same patience you have to wait for the animals: set up the flash, flag it, and just wait for the animal to get near it. You'll probably have to wait for a very long time... You could always buy 20-30 of the cheap $70 yongnuo RF flashes and "mine" the field... If any animal dares walk near them, shoot away! You'll get another nice picture when the animal panicks from the 20 flashes firing at the same time and starts galloping away... Ha ha ha ha :D Okay, you shouldn't really do that, don't scare the poor animals. But it's a funny thought!
« Last Edit: February 07, 2014, 05:35:07 AM by flowers »

Hillsilly

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2014, 06:15:04 AM »
Interesting setup for your photo.  The subjects I shoot are way too timid to have any hopes of positioning flashes, and I don't stage shots or use bait/feeders (just a personal choice) but I use the Better Beamer on my old 430EX sometimes.  I don't take it out unless it's cloudy or I'm in a forest, because of the very high risk of damage from the sun magnification by the fresnel lens.  The 430EX has a nice melt on the AF assist light which is why I use it vs. my newer flashes :).  Here's a shot of a barred owl in the shade that needed some fill to overcome a very bright sky:

I've been thinking of picking up a BetterBeamer.  I'm curious - what "very high risk of damage" is there?  Can it really melt your flash?
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flowers

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2014, 06:42:14 AM »
Interesting setup for your photo.  The subjects I shoot are way too timid to have any hopes of positioning flashes, and I don't stage shots or use bait/feeders (just a personal choice) but I use the Better Beamer on my old 430EX sometimes.  I don't take it out unless it's cloudy or I'm in a forest, because of the very high risk of damage from the sun magnification by the fresnel lens.  The 430EX has a nice melt on the AF assist light which is why I use it vs. my newer flashes :).  Here's a shot of a barred owl in the shade that needed some fill to overcome a very bright sky:

I've been thinking of picking up a BetterBeamer.  I'm curious - what "very high risk of damage" is there?  Can it really melt your flash?

http://forums.thedigitalfix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=425843

The "beamer" works both ways!

mackguyver

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2014, 07:58:24 AM »
I've been thinking of picking up a BetterBeamer.  I'm curious - what "very high risk of damage" is there?  Can it really melt your flash?

http://forums.thedigitalfix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=425843

The "beamer" works both ways!
Yep, that's pretty much what my 430EX looks like, and it can fry your $$$ super telephoto, too depending on the angle you're holding it.  Also, it can hurt.  I was out in July a couple of years ago and it was 102F and I suddenly noticed pain on the back of my hand.  Yep, it was the stupid Beamer.  I was holding the lens near the flash at a high angle and the sunspot hit me!  I find it really impractical because of this issue, particular in the "Sunshine State" here in Florida and almost never use it.  I would rather overexpose the background in most cases :)
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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2014, 07:58:24 AM »

flowers

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #13 on: February 07, 2014, 01:45:08 PM »
I've been thinking of picking up a BetterBeamer.  I'm curious - what "very high risk of damage" is there?  Can it really melt your flash?

http://forums.thedigitalfix.com/forums/showthread.php?t=425843

The "beamer" works both ways!
Yep, that's pretty much what my 430EX looks like, and it can fry your $$$ super telephoto, too depending on the angle you're holding it.  Also, it can hurt.  I was out in July a couple of years ago and it was 102F and I suddenly noticed pain on the back of my hand.  Yep, it was the stupid Beamer.  I was holding the lens near the flash at a high angle and the sunspot hit me!  I find it really impractical because of this issue, particular in the "Sunshine State" here in Florida and almost never use it.  I would rather overexpose the background in most cases :)
Have you thought about maybe flagging it with some fire retardant material and using a makeshift cap on it so even if it's on the flash it stays covered expect when you shoot? :) That's my solution for it. Just a little DIY!

Marsu42

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 01:53:48 PM »
No one's mentioned a flash extender, do you use one? It's what you want for your hotshoe flash.

This is synonymous for "better beamer"? http://www.naturescapes.net/store/visual-echoes-fx-3-better-beamer-flash-extender.html

I've read about these here, but they seem to add a lot of clutter to the flash, and I haven't got the lenses that really require it(?) - my longest one is the 70-300L, so the 200mm zoom setting of the 600rt is still ok unless the animal is completely elsewhere.

The real catch and why didn't try it yet is that it's a US product - $37 for the extender, and at least another $37 for shipping. Compare this to shipping rates from China...

As for off-camera flashes you could do it with the same patience you have to wait for the animals: set up the flash, flag it, and just wait for the animal to get near it.

I might do that for frogs in the next summer, they tend to sit on the same good spot (flea-wise) sooner or later, so it isn't too much guesswork :-)

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Re: Wildlife flash?
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2014, 01:53:48 PM »