Sunday, December 28, 2008

Playing With Flash: Chickadee

I don't remember what exactly I was doing, but it caused me to remember a guy who photographs birds using his flashes. It occurred to me that I'm pretty much all set to give this a try myself, so I did. What you see below is my first attempt at shooting a bird using flash. I wanted to blacken out the background, but it didn't work out as well as I had hoped.

Chickadee (by John Brainard)

In order to shoot this, I had my camera and flashes on full manual. The slave flash (580EX) was set to full power and my master flash set to 1/128th, the lowest it can go. All I'm using my master flash for is triggering the slave. I set the shutter speed to 1/2000th of a second and the aperture as wide as I could go, which is f/5.6 with my Sigma 70-300mm lens.

Here's a list of things I plan on trying next:

  • Block all the feeder ports on the feeder except the ones I want to shoot the birds from.
  • Remove the other bird feeder from the back yard so they don't have an alternate feeder to eat from.
  • Position myself better so the tree is in the background.
  • Work out better exposure settings.


Anonymous said...

Very nicely done....see I care. :P

Craig Lee said...

I have been thinking about making a similar set-up in my yard.

John Brainard said...

It was fun to go out and experiment with this setup and think of better ways of doing this. I ordered a couple of light stands and umbrella and a reflector last night that I hope to be able to use to take photos of birds. The reflector has a black cover that can be used for the background.

With the light stands, my tripod will be freed up again so I can use that for my camera. I had my flash mounted on my tripod.

I hope you get a chance to do this, Craig. I'd love to see what kind of results you get.

Craig Lee said...

Funny you should mention ordering a lightstand. I ordered two last night along with the brackets, a couple of umbrellas, a reflector kit (comes with a holder arm and the same lightstand I ordered for the flashes), a couple of other odds and ends like gels) ... oh and an SB-900 flash. Should be here in a couple of days.

John Brainard said...

Which reflector kit did you order? I bought the Westcott 301 Photo Basics 40-Inch 5-in-1 Reflector. I'm not quite sure what it includes... Hopefully I'll have everything I need to get it mounted to a light stand. I ordered two Adorama Universal Swivel Holders, one for the flash and hopefully one for the reflector. If not, I have stick-in-a-cans that I can clamp the reflector to.

How many flashes are you up to now? I currently have a 580EX II and a 580EX. I'd like to get another flash and a set of Elinchrom Skyports. I may get the Skyports before getting another flash though.

Craig Lee said...

I ordered the Westcott Photo Basics 40" 5-in-1 Reflector kit. It comes with a 7.5' stand (the same as I ordered for the flashes) and a reflector holder arm. You can order just the reflector by itself though.

The SB-900 will be my second flash and will become my main one. My SB-600 will become my background/hair/accent light. The reflector will be the fill of course.