|This captive plover was photographed in bright sun at a tourist attraction that shall go un-named. I used the handheld Canon 400mm IS DO lens, a 1.4X teleconverter, and the EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 200. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1.|
So, do you like the sun for your nature photography? I do, in early mornings and on late afternoons, but during the midday hours on clear days the sun is not what I want. In the image above the contrast in the image is high and the dark shadow in the eye socket is dis-pleasing (even though I pointed my shadow at the subject. The bright, high-in-the sky sun was the culprit. (Note: I could make the image look somewhat better with some Photoshop work but I would never be really happy with it.)
|Here I used ETTL flash at +1 stop. Again, ISO 200. Evaluative metering at zero: stop: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1.|
To create the image immediately above, I turned on my flash and set the flash compensation to +1 stop in ETTL mode. This told the flash to put out an additional stop of light, one stop more than it would normally need to properly light the subject. Why did I tell the flash to use extra light? So that it would reduce the hard shadows, especially those in the eye socket. (I learned this technique through experimentation.) It gotta say that it worked pretty well. Do understand that even though I used the flash at +1 stop I was using “Flash as Fill” not “Flash as Main Light” techniques.
|This image was created when the sun ducked behind the clouds with the flash set to -1 1/3 stops. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/7.1.|
Just before I created this image, a cloud drifted in front of the sun (much to my delight). I set the flash to -1 1/3 stops so that it acted as traditional Fill Flash. None of the three images in this blog post have been processed. They were extracted using Breezebrowser Pro and sharpened via my e-mail JPEG action.
Which of the three images do you like best? I know that when I process each of them that the third image, the one made when the sun went behind a cloud, will be my favorite. To sum up: if you must photograph in bright sun during the midday, use lots of flash. If a cloud covers the sun or if your subject ventures into a shaded area, you have the option of using traditional Fill Flash.
Be sure to note the different exposure compensations used when the sun was out versus when the sun was in. If they confuse you, and/or if you do not understand the difference between Flash as Fill and Flash as Main Light, you will want to get yourself a copy of “The Art of Bird Photography II” (916 pages on CD only): https://store.birdsasart.com/shop/category.aspx?catid=32