Sunday, May 29, 2011

Filling Shadows in Wildlife Picture

One of the challenges taking wildlife photographs is uneven lighting.  Many times we are in woods or out in partial open area with high sun and lots of streaming sunlight and/or contrasty shadows.  many folks are aware of use of fill flash for portrait photography.  Camera built in flashes work ok for that with wide angle lenses and attached flashes certainly have enough power for bigger lenses, but they do not have the reach.  One unit that is available for use with telephoto lenses is known as the "Better Beamer".  The unit has a bracket that attached to the snout of the flash unit and a fresnel lens attaches to that bracket.  The fresnel lens concentrates the flash beam and extends its useful distance.  The unit is not something that you just put on and start taking pictures with.  One must develop a technique for using it to get photos that do not look like flash photos.  You want the unit to put out just enough fill light to fill shadows and give some catch light in the eyes.

Here are some example pictures taken with a "Better Beamer" on a Canon Mk IV 1D with a Canon 600 f4 mounted on it with a 1.4 teleconverter also mounted giving a focal length of 840mm.

This mother bear was photographed in the woods just before dark.  The better beamer was used with a -2 f stop of fill light on the flash.

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC

The following picture of the two cubs was taken a little after dark.  The "Better beamer" allowed a shutter speed of 1/300 and f stop of f9. Flash was adjusted to be almost at full evaluative value.

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC

The following bird pictures were taken with a high sun with almost no clouds in the sky.  the birds were on branches back in the trees had had "streaming sunlight" hitting them making harsh shadows.  Notice how well the "Better beamer" filled in the shadows.

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC 

Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC

The following butterflies were photographed in the woods in an opening that had a canopy of tree branches overhead.  The lighting was very harsh and without the flash with Better beamer mounted, the pictures would have been unusable.

 Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC
Canon MK IV 1D; Canon 600 f4 with 1.4 TC

Until next time

Jim Borden


jo©o said...

Hiya Jim,
Those gatherings of butterflies on the ground have me perplexed: they seem so vulnerable there out in the open.
That new equipment really extends the scope of after dark images.
Are these bears in woods around your home?

Willard said...

Hi Jim,
A very informative post. Coy has one of these, but for some reason I keep putting off getting one. This post has reminded me that I should address this issue soon.