Alan S Willis 9:30am, 21 June 2010
I have been taking wildlife photos for over a year, My camera has no built in flash, and I have never used one. I feel I must be missing out!
should I purchase one? and how should I use it?
Regards Alan.
Can't help never used a flash for bird photography, I do know people who do and some that will use multiple flash heads if the image needs it. I'm sure an expert will be along shortly to help.
Stephen Duffy Images Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Stephen Duffy Images (member) 8 years ago
Ive only used flash at one location where the subjects were going to be in a dark area under some trees and the scene would be backlit ,and the birds were photographed with a 100mm macro lens and the camera was tripood mounted and the shutter fired by remote control from my car.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Male)

Great Tit


I also took some shots of the scene without flash (or birds) to add the backgrounds later in photoshop,as the shots of the birds had dark backgrounds.

Its not the best example of photographing birds useing flash as it would be better under decent lighting conditions,useing a long lens where the flash would be used to put some "catch lights" in the birds eyes rather than illuminate the whole scene.

Theres no reason not to get a flashgun and practice on some easy subjects such as ducks or town pigeons, to see what the effect is like and how to set the power ratio of the flash gun to balance it with the ambient light,rather than risking messing up the shot of a life time testing it on a bird thats difficult to photograph.
Alan S Willis 8 years ago
Thanks for your' info, I will take your advice and purchase a flash, and let you know how I get on.
regards Alan
Stephen Duffy Images 8 years ago
You should remember that if you use a flash that as far as shutter speeds go your limited the cameras flash synce speed,which on DSLRs is normally around 1/200th-1/250th sec.
Stephen Duffy Images Posted 8 years ago. Edited by Stephen Duffy Images (member) 8 years ago
Ive had another go with a flashgun in recent weeks useing the Canon EF 300mm f/4 IS L USM & EF 1.4xII Teleconverter,giving a focal length of 420mm on my 5D..

I didnt really need flash on the Moorhen shot below though it has bought out detail in the eye that otherwise would have been lost in shadow.


1/200th sec
ISO 100
Flash set to 1/4 Power
420mm Lens

As for the picture of the Jay below it would have been impossible to get a shot without a flash gun, as I was shooting hand held into dark shadowy area and useing a very slow shutter speed.

Jay (Garrulus glandarius).

1/80th sec
ISO 200
Flash set to 1/8th power
420mm lens

The flashgun used was a Sigma 530-DG Super set to Manual.
jaygum_photo 8 years ago
Flashes are great, but for many spieces only one time great! (lol)
So if you are able to do it without, better. If not expect some aditional dificulties, with colours and shadows.
gary1844 PRO Posted 8 years ago. Edited by gary1844 (member) 8 years ago
I use a flash alot. In the jungle under the canopy.. I shoot in manual with the flash firing on curtain closing. That way you can get a fast shutter speed. Also with proper sync it alows you to get the natural light as a good background.
I like it because you can freeze the birds better. And I use it as fill flash only.

I like natural light better by far.

You can use a better beamer with it and really get some long range shots.

I am not to good at it but if I can shoot a few shots for setting up the camera it is good.

I also agree with the previous answer. Reguarding shadows and such.

I have yet to scare a bird off by flashing. I have more problems with the noise of the shutter. I cannot wait for the mirrorless shutter...
Canon speedlites 'High-Speed Sync' lets you shoot at just about any shutter speed you want, and you're not limited to the typical 1/200th or 1/250th.

I personally shoot everything outdoors w/flash. You have to if you want to compete with harsh sunlight, bring out shadow detail and get the perfect catch-light in the eyes!
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