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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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Posted Wednesday 11th January 2012 at 17:45 by Denny Woodthorpe
Well, I've spent another day in the hide in the back garden and had some success. I am really pleased that I have sorted out the technicalities of using two flash units "in the field". I should now be able to take it to other locations, such as the small reserve down the road.
I have at least two photos I am very happy with. I will have to get them on to the computer and "develop" them. I will then put them either into the gallery here or put a link to my Dropbox account.
My technique is to have the camera on the manual exposure setting, set at 250th of a second at f7.1.
ISO is 100. This is usually not enough ambient light on most days in winter, meaning that the flash becomes the main light, giving very short exposures and freezing the movement of small birds close to the camera. The only problem is when the light is strong enough to give a ghosting caused by the ambient light also exposing the frame. I then move over to aperture priority and alter ISO if necessary and flip the flash down.
I am using two flash units, a Sigma 500 DG Super and a Canon 430EXII, both used as slave flash, operated by the on-camera flash set so as not to contribute to the exposure. A flash ratio of 2:1 is used to provide main light and as fill-in.
A painted board is placed 3 feet behind the perch and the flash units are 8 feet in front and to the sides of the perch. This, because of the inverse square law of light fall off, gives the background one stop less light than the perch. I have found that the camera tends to calculate the exposure more for the background than the bird, so I give it minus one stop of flash exposure compensation, making the background a little darker, but the bird correctly lit.
I have enjoyed working all this out and I'm pleased to be now able to concentrate on the actual birds. I'm busy for the next few days, but can't wait for another free day, sitting in the cold for hours on end!
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