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05-12-2014, 04:12 AM   #1
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Better Beamer advice

I have a robin nest which I can photograph close but in a very dark location. It is under the roof of my back porch in a shaded backyard.

Will using a Better Beamer scare the bird away? I feel it would but a friend said she heard flash does not bother birds.

Here's a picture 500mm f5 1/100 ISO3200 Very shallow DOF at this distance. I plan to bump the ISO to get a fast shutter and smaller aperture. A Better Beamer would do the trick.

I have a rig that takes a shot every 20 minutes.

Thanks for your help

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05-12-2014, 04:21 AM   #2
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A flash generally does not scare the bird away when used once, I cannot tell what would happen with a repeated flash every 20 minutes though.

Can you get a better angle on the bird. You seem to be shooting from behind. Coming more directly side on would solve some of the DOF issues
05-12-2014, 04:51 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
A flash generally does not scare the bird away when used once, I cannot tell what would happen with a repeated flash every 20 minutes though.

Can you get a better angle on the bird. You seem to be shooting from behind. Coming more directly side on would solve some of the DOF issues
Thank you for the suggestion about location. The bird changes orientation as she hops in and out of the nest. I have a couple shots with the robin head on.
I can only set up my tripod at this angle due to the structure of the porch and nest location. Once the eggs hatch there will be a lot of activity feeding the birds and resulting changes in the birds' positions. I hope some of the shots capture a better angle.

Today I am going to try ISO 12800

The robin (I am guessing the same robin) made the nest in the same location last year. I do not want to scare her away so I'll probably not try the Better Beamer.
05-12-2014, 05:23 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RockvilleBob Quote
Will using a Better Beamer scare the bird away? I feel it would but a friend said she heard flash does not bother birds.
Most people shooting birds are using flash for fill. In daylight, pupils are closed down and flash is not much brighter than ambient light. In a dark area such as this, a flash will be very intrusive and probably blinding for a minute or two. I'm glad you decided not to use it.

What shutter speed are you using for your shots?

05-12-2014, 09:29 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by audiobomber Quote
Most people shooting birds are using flash for fill. In daylight, pupils are closed down and flash is not much brighter than ambient light. In a dark area such as this, a flash will be very intrusive and probably blinding for a minute or two. I'm glad you decided not to use it.

What shutter speed are you using for your shots?
Thanks for the insight about flash and Better Beamer. I am going out this weekend to shot some birds with the BB and learn how to use the flash fill.
The posted picture above was shot at 1/100 f5 ISO3200
Today I bumped it to 1/250 f6.3 using TAV mode - again taking a shot every 20 minutes. I am hoping the faster shutter and smaller aperture will perk up the shots and I'll just have to deal with the higher noise. Life is full of compromises.
A crow attacked the nest but the robin came back so the egg laying continues.
05-13-2014, 10:16 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RockvilleBob Quote
Thanks for the insight about flash and Better Beamer. I am going out this weekend to shot some birds with the BB and learn how to use the flash fill.
The posted picture above was shot at 1/100 f5 ISO3200
Today I bumped it to 1/250 f6.3 using TAV mode - again taking a shot every 20 minutes. I am hoping the faster shutter and smaller aperture will perk up the shots and I'll just have to deal with the higher noise. Life is full of compromises.
A crow attacked the nest but the robin came back so the egg laying continues.
Fill flash is great for detail as it adds contrast to the minute detail in feathers etc, as well as setting sharp edges to the background

What I do for flash considering you are limited to 1/180 is the following.

I forget that auto modes exist and shoot manual.

I set the shutter to 1/180 and then set the aperture and ISO so that the natural light on the subject, using spot metering, has an exposure of about -1 stop. This ensures mostly natural light for subject and background. Then shoot with the flash and no exposure compensation I check the camera result.

Note you need to consider in this your flash guide number, to make sure you have the power. A better Beamer can improve the GN by 2-3 stops. But you should check this by shooting from about 40-50 feet, at night against a wall, with the aperture and ISO so you are a little beyond the exposure capability of the flash and shoot full power manual. Then add the better Beamer and repeat. In your photo editor, measure the greyscale value in the middle of the frame. Between about 25-30 greyscale and 225-230 greyscale you have about 45 greyscale per stop and the exposure is quite linear. This will tell you how effective it is
05-13-2014, 12:35 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
Fill flash is great for detail as it adds contrast to the minute detail in feathers etc, as well as setting sharp edges to the background

What I do for flash considering you are limited to 1/180 is the following.

I forget that auto modes exist and shoot manual.

I set the shutter to 1/180 and then set the aperture and ISO so that the natural light on the subject, using spot metering, has an exposure of about -1 stop. This ensures mostly natural light for subject and background. Then shoot with the flash and no exposure compensation I check the camera result.

Note you need to consider in this your flash guide number, to make sure you have the power. A better Beamer can improve the GN by 2-3 stops. But you should check this by shooting from about 40-50 feet, at night against a wall, with the aperture and ISO so you are a little beyond the exposure capability of the flash and shoot full power manual. Then add the better Beamer and repeat. In your photo editor, measure the greyscale value in the middle of the frame. Between about 25-30 greyscale and 225-230 greyscale you have about 45 greyscale per stop and the exposure is quite linear. This will tell you how effective it is
Thank you very much Lowell
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