Making the best of a situation- a little fun with flash

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Making the best of a situation- a little fun with flash

Post by AsydaBass »

Hello everyone,

January has brought about the end of a break and the beginning of a new field season. Needless to say, I've been in the field quite a bit lately and have had some interesting photo opportunities presented to me. I thought I'd share this short series of images with the forum.

Full story here: ... death.html

When I stumbled across this scene I racked my head of how to make the best out of what I had found. My ideal scenario would be to set up the wide angle, a blind, and use a remote to trigger the shutter in order to capture what happens in nature. Unfortunately, nature and timing aren't usually in our favor when we're shooting.

Circumstances: high tide rapidly coming in, with every wave coming up closer and closer (already coming up the beach higher that the subject) and the sun less than 30 minutes from setting. Shooting on the fly is always more exciting for me than a planned shoot.

30 January 2013; Dominical, Costa Rica

As I approached, trying to figure out just what was going on in the distance:


There was a group of Black Vultures feasting on something on the tide line. The vultures scattered as I approached and I saw what was a dead sea turtle. Knowing that I didn't have much time, I decided to put on the wide angle lens and get low and close. Photos were taken as the waves receded. Shooting in turtle water is a stinky affair!


The above shot was from a slightly higher angle and about a foot back in comparison to the next photo. The reason for this was was to show some more of the surrounding beach and to allow for the warm sunset colors to reflect in the water.

Keep in mind that the ambient light was already low and that incorporating the sunset into the shot meant that the side of the turtle photographed was in shadow. The key to this photo was to balance the flash output with the brighter background light. When I say balance, I mean like cooking- add enough to taste, different folks would have done it differently I'm sure.

In this next shot, the lens is only a few inches from the turtle's flipper. For those that are new to wide angle photography, it is very important to get CLOSE to your subject in order to show perspective. The idea is to really emphasize your subject while including an "interesting" background. *On that note, keep in mind that when it comes to sunset photography, as beautiful as they are, they too need a subject. I'm always saddened when I see someone post a beautiful sunset that was wasted on an empty frame. Okay, rant over :P

Basic recipe: Get low, get close, expose for the brightest part of the scene, and use flash to fill in the darker areas. Simple as that :thumb:


The setup:
The first close-up turtle shot was photographed with the camera on a tripod and both flashes on stands, as can be seen in the following two photos. The second sunset turtle was shot lying on the sand with the left flash held at ground level in my left hand. The purpose of this position change was to get closer to the turtle and to illuminate the carapace of the flipped turtle.


Notice how in the first turtle shot, the carapace is in shadow. Holding the flash lower for the second photo eliminated most of this. I chose to keep a little shadow from the shell as shadow is how we show depth.

Since people are always asking about gear I'll include what I used.

Nikon D7000
Nikon 10-24mm f3.5-4.5G ED AF-S DX
Flashes: 2x Nikon SB-700 speedlights controlled by a Nikon SU-800 commander
small cheap aluminum tripod
2x cheap ebay flash stands (one small table top unit and one light-weight tall stand)

*I had been hiking through the rainforest understory in search of some good low light subjects when I came out at the beach- hence the reason why I had this amount of gear on me.


I hope you all enjoyed reading and feel free to click the link at the top of the page. It connects the original, though still short, story of the hike. Lots of monkey pictures there :D


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Re: Making the best of a situation- a little fun with flash

Post by Antonsrkn »

Excellent, like you said you really made the best of the situation. The setup is very cool and you got some very good images. They may not be the kind you want to hang up on your wall but still despite the subject, they're great! Haha that seems like a ton of equipment to be carrying around but good thing you had it with!

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Re: Making the best of a situation- a little fun with flash

Post by CCarille »

Very cool Don! I'm surprised you were carrying so much gear with you. The shots turned out well and I like the blog as well.

Do you live near Dominical or are you just down there for awhile? I absolutely loved Dominical when I was there in 2011. Fantastic little town and a lot to do. Plus, the burgers at The Refuge were fantastic and my g/f and I lived off of margaritas. haha

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