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Marsh tit

Marsh tit, Poecile palustris, Single bird in flight, Warwickshire, January 2017


In recent years I have been doing small birds in flight using natural light with either a DSLR or the 4K photo mode on the Panasonic GH4. This winter I have taken a step backwards and returned to using flash. I have bought 4 x Canon 580 Mk2 flash guns and a large alloy frame to which I can attached an artificial background. In this picture the background is a large sheet of hessian. The birds are flying towards a feeder and the button pressed as they arrive. I get two or sometimes three flashes per attempt. I really need more than two flashes, but the guns do not recycle fast enough.

This is 800iso at f13 on a Canon 1dx, 100-400mm mk2 lens. The flash is in ETL mode using a wireless transmitter. The flash is probably firing on about 1/4 power so about 1/4000th of a second. The shutter speed is set to the fastest flash sync speed of 1/250th. I can only work on a dull day as the ambient light needs to be at least 3 stops underexposed to avoid any ghosting caused by a double exposure by the flash and daylight.

For this shot two flashguns were on the bird and two on the background.

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