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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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One more remark I'd like to make: often when using fill-in flash (i.e. the flash isn't your main source of light), the flash is a lot less intense and lasts for much a shorter period. The animal should therefore not get blinded by the flash.

I usually set a flash compensation of -1.3 or so when shooting outdoors during the day (which lowers the intensity of the flash even further).

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 11:15 am 
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The only reasonable source I've managed to find during a morning's searching is this one: Flash Photography and the Visual System of Birds and Animals. It appears that the article is written by a vet and an ophthalmologist who are both interested in photography.

The article says this:
Quote:
Fill-flash involves the balance of ambient and artificial lighting. In situations when fill-flash is used, cone cells are active, and they are designed to work in all but dim light. Because of this, the use of fill-flash on animals and birds is not likely to have any effect on their visual systems. Cone cells do not bleach to a nonfunctional state in bright light as the rod cells do.

Flash as main light in dim light conditions can produce a temporary reduction in vision but not permanent damage.

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 12:53 pm 
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joshilewis wrote:
Jane, thanks for your reply.
I can't seem to find the photo of the lion you're referring to.


Josh...the Lion referred to is Under the Mammal section under sub section "Lion" and should be near the top as I posted it only yesterday.

Flash will harm a cat in a game reserve if done on a continious basis as per some private game reserves (Not all by any means as some dont allow this practice) in places like Sabi Sands at some of the lodges there where upmarket photographers who have all the gadgets like powerful flashes/battery packs for quick recycling/ better beamers for reach etc are taken out to view the same 4-5 leopards on a particular property day in and day out and the jeeps que to move in so as the one jeep leaves with 6-8 photographers all roasting the poor cat. so the next drives in to replace the departed jeep and this is repeated every 10 mins until all 45 or so guests for that day have photographed the particular leopard.

This is done again in the afternoon/evening drive and all jeeps are called in on radio once the same cat from the morning has been relocated. Over time their sensitive eyes are damaged and they use them to hunt..Bear in mind a leopard has eyes about 20000 times more sensitive/acute than our eyes and I hate 1 flash in the face. A SANParks Predator Biologist friend of ours told us this many years ago in the 1980's when my husband also innocently used to flash everything in sight but like smoking that practice seems to have diminished in popularity as we never saw one flasher in Kruger last Aug during our 15 day stay and we were in the company of some serious photographers many well known.

Maybe your vet article has some merit for the odd Kruger cat that gets a flash in the face once every 6 weeks or so but in all sincerity are you willing to risk possible harm?

I am sure you are a very good guide where again Motswari or Kirkmans or maybe I am confusing you with someone else??

Are you on Outdoorphoto site. I am not because I am not in that league but a few months ago in the Gallery section there were huge heated discussions between photographers on the ethics of flashing. My husband was involved in that and like the others provided valuable input. It was about Aug/Sept this year??

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Fri Dec 25, 2009 9:37 am 
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
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As with everything concerning wildlife, extreme views on the interaction between humans and animals exist, no matter what the topic of conversation. Unfortunately the use of artificial lighting to photograph (domestic or wild) animals is only one such an (unnecessary) area of controversy. I believe that much of what Jane says is rooted in hearsay and anecdotal evidence and cannot be left unchallenged. To judge people’s photographic actions negatively right across the spectrum of flash intensities and “ban” the use of the electronic camera flash for wildlife photography (especially when used in fill-in mode), as she suggests, is an uninformed judgment.

Many different species of animals have been subjected to diverse light sources of various intensities for scientific research in laboratories over many decades to determine the effect of those light sources on the eye, ranging from fish, reptiles, birds and amongst mammals: mice, rabbits, cats, dogs and monkeys, etc. In none of these experiments has permanent damage to the eyes of test animals or even people been detected, even at close range and at much higher intensity than the strongest flashes produced by a photographer’s flash equipment. Extreme tests included dark-adapting animals for 24 hours before subjecting them to short durations of intense light, and even then the impairment was not permanent.

If you want to better understand the workings of the eye read here. This site is a bit complex and you must navigate through the various sections of the site in order to get the full value. This one is for cats (not much, but the best I could find).

Now, to specifically address the misunderstandings Jane’s post is responsible for, although joshilewis has already alluded to some of it …

Jane wrote:
The latest Nikon cameras have D Lighting so you dont need Fill Flash


D-lighting (or “Highlight Tone Priority” for Canon users) is in-camera software that enables more detail to be saved in highlight and lowlight areas of a JPEG image. Its purpose was never to replace the flash or fill-in flash. For RAW shooters it has no detectable value. Maybe a D-light or HTP thread can evolve from this one? I won’t participate as I don’t depend on in-camera software, but rather do my own image reworks from RAW.

Jane wrote:
… those delicate Carnivore and Nocturnal birds eyes … get damaged by cruel flashes which can harm those ultra sensitive and much needed retinas


The words delicate, cruel, ultra-sensitive, much-needed are emotional justifiers Jane used to rationalise her point. You now know (I hope you’ve read here ) how the eye actually behaves in changing light. Remember that fill-flash is not the primary source of light when it is used, the sun is. The eye has evolved to handle bright light such as the sun and the rod cells are "turned off" during bright light. At source the fill-flash is many orders of magnitude lower than the sun and by the stage it reaches the subject, even further diffused and therefore will have no detrimental effect on the creature. So all those hot-button words: delicate, cruel, ultra-sensitive, much-needed have no bearing here.

Jane wrote:
Bear in mind a leopard has eyes about 20000 times more sensitive/acute than our eyes


and

Jane wrote:
…a Pearlspotted Owl is a nocturnal animal and as such has extremely sensitive eyes and as such should never be subjected to flash photography .


20000 times! Jeez, that is an out-of-thin-air statistic/statement, if ever I’ve seen one! The closest I could get to this stat that cats can in ambient conditions eight times dimmer than humans can. Mammalian eyes are eyes, human or cat. They all have similar components, only the unique requirements for each being has been catered for by evolution. Cat’s eyes have about 25 rods to each cone, compared to the composition of the human eye that has roughly four rods to each cone. Yet the number of fibres in human optic nerve is 1 200 000 as opposed to 119 000 in a cat’s eye. So, to make any “sensitivity comparison” is tough, wouldn’t you say? There is of course the tapetum lucidum, a membrane that is extreme well developed in cats and other animals, allowing light to be harvested in dim and dark conditions thus increasing the eyes efficiency. This membrane allows a cat’s eye to produces flash-back when caught in those ultra-powerful searchlights used to illuminate animals on night drives. These searchlights, often in the hands of untrained clients, inadvertently hits animal eyes at similar intensity but for much longer durations than camera flashes. Yet, even these searchlights have been proven not to have any permanent detrimental effect on the animals subjected to them, apart from making them temporarily uncomfortable.

I cannot argue with Jane about impairment of animals when a flash is indiscreetly used at low light times. That impairment is fortunately only temporary, even when used to such extremes as she infers is the case in the private game reserves. In fact, they have their priorities right! They will allow busy flash photography so that the client gets his money’s worth. Ten minutes after the event, the cat will be completely fit again. After repeated exposures to this sort of interaction, they get acclimatised to it, and suffer no long-term ill-effects.

To advocate taking away my ability to decide for myself if and when I want to take a flash-assisted photograph goes entirely against my grain, especially if that “ban” is based on unsubstantiated yarns. As far as Andy’s PSO goes, I have now idea how many shots were taken with a flash, but if it was curtailed, judiciously, the owlet would not have been stressed at all! An example to explain… strobing away at a cat chasing a mouse around will result in poor pix anyhow and a cat going without its dinner… (saved the mouse, though, heheheheee…) but shooting a few carefully composed portraits of that same cat enjoying its dinner will have very little effect cost-wise to the cat, while the good photographer will have front-page quality images of subjects that can increase public awareness and appreciation of nature subjects. We all know (I hope) the importance of maintaining a diverse population of birds and animals on this planet. There are not many better ways to publicise their plight and to improve the survival and quality of life than by showing the (potential) donators of bucks the subjects we photographed.

On the other hand, I can get quite disturbed when I see animals suffering as a result of human stupidity/greed… signal towers, power lines, feral animals, air and water pollution, vehicles, habitat reduction and the bush meat market are some concerns… To my mind these are of greater importance to the welfare of animals than temporary vision alteration due to flash photography. I feel that animals in general can cope with the peculiarities that are inextricably part of interaction with us humans much better than what those same humans give them credit for. What they cannot cope with is direct and indirect exploitation.

This is probably the most balanced article that you’ll find on the subject, written by a veterinarian and a doctor, both with a keen interest in wildlife photography, but Jane has already dismissed it as inconsequential!

Here is a good one on fill-flash photography.

I noted with interest the blunt way Jane dismissed joshilewis’s reference to the excellent Nature Scapes article
Jane wrote:
Maybe your vet article has some merit for the odd Kruger cat that gets a flash in the face once every 6 weeks or so but in all sincerity are you willing to risk possible harm?
, in spite of the conclusive evidence offered contrary to Jane’s views and I wonder whether this effort of mine will be bread on the water or totally…

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2009 5:13 pm 
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I hear you Johann

I apologise for being emotional but I have seen too much abuse in the guiding industry especially where my husband does freelance work at various locations. This involves mainly the use of flash as a fill in

All I know is I wouldnt like to be a leopard having my face rudely illuminated twice a day by say 40 guests firing multiple shots...some of the morning shots will yes be done when I am maybe in a tree recuperating from a nights hunt and other activities. The evening shots are normally done with the same intensity and volume, only this time it is when I am hunting for my supper. It wouldnt be so bad if it was a once a year occurance like neighbours in the city keeping humans awake with a noisy party. But every night 365 days of the year this happens with no let up and all decided on by the results of some lab test in a remote country on some rats to make it OK. The guests soon retire to their camp where food diligently prepared is waiting for them while I spend mins/hours trying to get rid of these daily worsening spots in front of my eyes that hinder me more and more in my quest to survive/not eat like a human in a lodge.


We havent used the flash once since we got the D700 in the bush and that is exactly what most pro colleagues of my SO do as well. Remember Johann, this as I have been told many times, is not about the photography and getting a perfect studio shot but rather it is about the well being of animals particularly Nightjars, Owls, Leopards, Lions and Genets etc who rely on their acute and sensitive eyesight to survive...I hope that is a bit clearer now...people go too much on what they read in "scientific journals" I have been out with my SO on occassion when he is vehicle guiding and we have witnessed the reaction to flash by lion who clearly wince at the shot. Put bluntly...they are not happy campers .

So lets agree then....if you really have to use fill in flash in nature its ok on things like Hornbills, Go away Birds, Impala Lilies, Impala, Zebra etc but not suitable for lions etc who rely on their eyes for survival, but nothing beats getting the correct exposure right first time in the camera without the need of flash, as my pic in Mammals/lions taken early in the morning illustrates so well. It would have been better with flash sure but not necessary and would you give that lovely male a flash in the face ?? :)

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Sat Dec 26, 2009 7:08 pm 
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Quote:
So lets agree then....if you really have to use fill in flash in nature its ok on things like Hornbills, Go away Birds, Impala Lilies, Impala, Zebra etc but not suitable for lions etc who rely on their eyes for survival

All animals rely on their eyes for survival, maybe others just to a greater extent.

Quote:
.people go too much on what they read in "scientific journals"

Jane, scientific journals are peer reviewed and contain scientific fact or theories with supportive evidence, what is in them is valid.

I do not agree with using a flash at night on any animal, the pupil is so dilated that any bright light will momentarily effect them effecting their behaviour, but more importantly i dont like to create undue stress to an animal i am watching. so i agree with you jane, but i dont agree with some of your assumptions, you make it sound as if the leopards in private reserves are placed in specific areas, and photographed every night, which is not true. I was lucky enough to stay at a private reserve in sabi-sabi a few years ago renowned for leopards and never saw the same animal twice in a 3 day stay, and as they know all the leopards personally their some we saw had not been seen in weeks.

Johan Van Rensburg, i like the way you looked at both sides :thumbs_up: :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2009 5:53 am 
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Hi Odessey, you must try places like in N Sabi Sands and certain lodges in N Timbavati for repetitive Leopard shots........smaller area = more vehicle pressure etc..where you went things are done properly and if memory serves me correctly your lodge does not allow cat flashes at all as do many others for obvious reasons i have already emotionally mentioned. Our family has a farm next to Kirkmans Camp and they dont go out at night at all...basically keep to Kruger hours :) but then its not commercial

The original thrust of this thread is Fill flash with wild life shots...my take is yes it really works but with modern cameras you can under certain conditions do away with it with very pleasing results. Also while most things in the wild will not be too affected by this practice there are certain ethical considerations to be taken into consideration with regard to nocturnal hunters (not feeders, there is a difference). Its good to have this difference of opinion as it shows we do actually care about the welfare of animals and by doing this we show we are thinking about it , asking questions and in the end care will prevail and nature will be the beneficiary :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:58 pm 
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Your photo has always been a source of inspiration to me Johan :clap: and I have finally got my head around using fill flash especially when photographing birds and butterflies. The following photo was taken almost straight into the sun and would most probably have been a silhouette if I had not used fill flash.....

Image

I was quite happy with the way it turned out.

Settings as follows....

Camera Model- Canon EOS-1D Mark IV
Shooting Mode- Aperture-Priority AE
Tv( Shutter Speed )- 1/2000
Av( Aperture Value )- 5.6
Metering Mode- Evaluative Metering
Exposure Compensation- 0
ISO Speed- 500
Lens- EF400mm f/5.6L USM
Focal Length- 400.0 mm
Image Quality-RAW
Flash Type- External E-TTL
E-TTL II flash metering-Evaluative flash metering
Flash Exposure Compensation- -2/3
Shutter curtain sync- Hi-speed
FE lock-OFF
White Balance Mode- Auto
AF Mode-One-Shot AF
Drive Mode-Single shooting

Thanks Johan :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Mon May 28, 2012 11:36 pm 
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Bread on the water... :lol: :lol: :lol:

You are justifiably a happy photographer! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 6:55 pm 
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:D :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Fill-in Flash for wildlife shots
Unread postPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:10 pm 
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Josh of the Bushveld, that 1/200sec merely syncs with your flash, the flash duration is around 1/10,000 sec so will freeze any movement - I take pics of Sunbirds & Witogies at the nectar feeder outside my window with great success using my speedlight. The light in amongst the foliage is dim, thus needing that extra lighting.
Where can I upload some pics to show you ?
Just remember your onboard flash only has a rabge of 2/3m (you can increase this range a little by upping the ISO, but watch out for noise). A speedlight will be a great deal further.


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