View Full Version : How SHOULD I have done this? - Nigh-time, moving...

10-03-2012, 5:58pm
I was down at Burswood park last night (near the casino in Peth) when I came across an incredible sight - hundreds - possibly a thousand or so, ducks, swans and gulls covering the lake and park, literally swarming around. An elderly Asian lady was feeding them rice and bread. Kind of reminded me of a scene from a movie I saw, with the crazy Central Park bird lady (can't remember the film...) By the end, I was sitting down next to my tripod, totally surrounded by swans having the occasional peck at my fingers to see if any more bread was offered. It was totally surreal, and an incredible experience.

I had my camera, tripod and 2 flashes with me and started snapping away, and was less then impressed with the results. Too dark, too blurry, too bright etc etc.

I have linked to a gallery of the photos below, and would appreciate some advice on how I SHOULD have set up, keeping in mind fairly constant movement was necessary as the swans kept coming right up to me and inspecting the camera. These were the best of about 50 I took... so very disappointing. :confused013

Gear - 550D, Lens - Canon 24-105L, 430ex-ii (slave off camera), 580ex-ii master on camera
Lighting available - almost pitch black - some slight ambient light from across the lake at the casino.
All images were RAW, and processed in LR4. Some have been heavily processed to increase exposure so you can see the number of birds.

I would love to go back there and get some pictures that turned out OK. I have left the metadata in there so you can see the range of shutter speeds etc I tried. Check the caption of each pic for the main details. What I did notice afterwards that I had my ISO fixed on 400...

Link > http://photos.throssell.com/Other/Swans/21862927_TpRhb9


11-03-2012, 1:26pm
Kieron, shutter speed and aperture are but two pieces in the puzzle of exposure for these images. I had a look at the EXIF data for your images and I see that you experimented quite a bit with settings. You might want to have a read of this document http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-flash/index2.html#programflash. With Canon EOS cameras, the mode you shoot in will have a major effect on the way your images are exposed. Essentially in the lighting you had, you need to to work on two exposures, one for the ambient light, and another for the flash.

In at least one of your images you used ISO3200, I assume to maximise the ambient light (or maybe to get a faster shutter speed to freeze the movement). What I would have done (and who knows how they would have turned out, because I wasn't there), would have been to use the tripod and either shoot in Av to get the ambient light exposure correct at high ISO, and let the flash actually freeze the movement. You'll hear wedding photographers talk about dragging the shutter. Here's an explanation of how that works http://neilvn.com/tangents/flash-photography-techniques/3-dragging-the-shutter/.

You still need to experiment though, because there is no hard and fast rule of when to use this technique and what settings to use. You'll have to chimp your exposures to see what works best.

Fall-back for this is probably "P" mode, which I see you also tried. It is going to use 1/60th second for shutter though, no matter what other settings you select. In daylight P mode will also use a faster shutter speed if you have high speed synch set.

The final choice is Manual Mode as it is simply going to expose for the foreground and totally ignore your ambient.

No doubt there will be plenty of alternate views offered ;), but that is what I would have done. YMMV.

11-03-2012, 3:13pm
yeah, I would have shot manual, bumped up the ISO to 1600, f/4, 1/60s or similar in manual and let the flash do its job in TTL