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This blog is intended to follow my progress this year in my pursuit of obtaining some worthwhile bird photographs.
Very much a beginner, with limited funds but almost unlimited time, I want to capture photographs that are more than mere record shots. I am not expecting many rare or even unusual species, but want to do justice to any bird that cares to pose for me.
Wish me luck and good light.
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Harsh Shadows

Posted Wednesday 10th November 2010 at 18:24 by Denny Woodthorpe
I've been thinking of the problem of harsh shadows when I'm using off-camera flash. I cannot afford to buy another flash gun at the moment, so I did some experiments in the garage this evening. I set up a white board about 3 feet away from the "bird" on the opposite side to the flash. At first it didn't seem to work. I then realised that with the flash set on zoom, there was very little light spilling out onto the board.
When I set the flash on 28mm, it worked a treat! There were still shadows, but they were much lighter. Exactly as I wanted them. I now have modelling without harshness.
So my set up now is a Sigma EF 500 DG Super flash, off-camera on a long pole with a connecting cord to the camera (Canon 300D at the moment). The flash is set quite high (simulating sunlight) at about 30-45 degrees to the left of the camera. I am using FP flash, so I can set the shutter at 500th of a second to cut out ambient light ghosting. A white board is placed on the other side to the flash, about 2-3 feet away from the "bird" at such an angle to bounce light back into the shadows.
A background board painted in greens and browns is placed 3 feet behind the "bird".
Exposure is set manually at f8 and 500th of a second. I then let the flash work out how much light to give it.
I still have to try it in the field (or garden) but with rain due tomorrow I might not get the chance. The only problem I envisage is getting the birds used to coming into such a confined "studio" but if I leave the white board out permanently (fastened to the fence), I'm sure they will get used to it.
Still no sign of the woodpecker, but I don't mind at the moment as I have lots to think about before I get around to him.
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