Lighting the Shadowed Side… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Lighting the Shadowed Side...

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I used the flash to light the shadowed side of this Willet completely. Knowing how to use my flash yielded a pleasing image in difficult conditions.

As Denise Ippolito and I approached this bird in the predawn we were thinking silhouettes but the pink in the eastern sky faded almost instantly so I went back to the vehicle and set up my flash with the Better Beamer. I had the 800 with the 1.4X TC on a tripod with the Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops. I knew that for a proper exposure for the bird I would have had to add close to four stops of light to the suggested ambient exposure. To avoid having to do that I set the flash to ETTL at zero. In effect, I was telling the flash to fully light the shadowed side of the bird. Everything worked to perfection. When you want to reveal the detail on the shadowed side of your subject set your flash to ETTL at zero; if you think “fill flash” and dial in some minus flash compensation the shadowed side of the bird will be underexposed.

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In this image the flash did not fire. Even with 1 2/3 stops of over-exposure, the bird is dramatically under-exposed.

Do note that I removed the branch behind the bird’s legs and cleaned the whitewash off the perch using the Protect and Defend techniques for the former and the Patch Tool for the latter. All as described in detail in Digital Basics. Click here and scroll down for DB info:

6 comments to Lighting the Shadowed Side…

  • avatar RIck Z

    I am having a problem using the better beamer to light up a bird in the shadows or low light. The problem is that I get a lot of red eyes in the birds like roseate spoonbills. I mount the flash on the top of my camera in the regular flash attachment. Is there a way around the red eye?

  • Good advice. This went from a throw away to a very nice photo with the addition of light to the shadow side and by removing the limb and white wash.

  • avatar Monte Brown


    The composition and the feathers draping out create an outstanding photo. Great tip for the photographers tool box.