Using off camera flash for bird photography

November 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

There is a constant demand for local wildlife images to be used on greeting cards and calenders.  Therefore, I am building up my portfolio of British garden birds for Getty Images and there is no local bird more recognisable than the common Blue Tit.

The challenge I have experienced whilst photographing Blue Tit's is that they move so fast that capturing a sharp still image is far from easy.  The main problem is having a fast enough shutter speed whilst having the required aperture and keeping the ISO down.  Ambient light on an average British day is just not bright enough.  This has resulted in 100's of images being taken with only around a dozen images usable at a time.  This is not a good yield or productive use of time.  Therefore, I have run a trial using 2 x Speedlites (off camera flash).  Using flash means I can dial up my shutter speed.

I set up my hide in the garden with one Speedlite in front of the hide facing the subject with a second Speedlite positioned under the subject firing upwards.  To entice the birds to my chosen location on the tree, I have placed feeders in strategic positions.

Below is one of the images taken using this method where I have achieved a clean crisp sharp image using flash with superb background separation. 

After a bit of 'jiggry pokery' with my flash settings I now know the perfect balance of camera and flash settings to get a great image every time.  All I have to do next is make some time for a full shoot.... looking forward to it already!!!


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