Sometimes the light of a cloudy day is beautiful for photography, making features soft and creamy, eliminating harsh shadows, and enhancing colours. But this is a bright cloudy day we are talking about, not a gloomy, dark and depressing day like we tend to get around Vancouver this time of year. On a day like that, the photographer can only do one thing: eat Cheetos and veg out.
But wait! There is something you can do to get nice defined images of wildlife despite the terrible conditions and your way-too-old, way-too-noisy Canon sensor. Of course! Supplemental light!
I tested out throwing some hard light from trigger-controlled flashguns on a few species at Stanley Park this Saturday, and I am pretty pleased with the results!
This gull gains just a subtle definition from a speedlight placed behind and to the right.
A crow positioned about where the gull was. This time, because the bird is black, the effect is even more subtle, but that rim light on the head and showing up the feathers on the back is all flash.
The light to the back is much more obvious here, and the background branches are also lit. Bokeh is not great.
Again, some nice definition that would not have been present without a flash.
This Song Sparrow benefits from supplemental light, although it is a tad too direct for my taste.
A single shot with the 100 to show how the light was falling. I had the rimlight behind, and a bit of a fill directly in front of the crow (to my right).
Even hard light need not be oppressive. This towhee is still subtle, and I probably gained 3 stops of ISO here, making the image cleaner.
This squirrel gains definition from a single speedlight to the right, and a bit of fill from directly in front. .
This hooded merganser pops a bit more and is crisper overall thanks to speedlights.
Chickadee mid leap. Single speedlight to the right.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Again, I am gaining stops and definition.
Overall, I like this method of shooting, but would prefer natural light. For a gloomy day, when all I would get otherwise is a noisy mess, this is a good thing to try. With an actual lighting assistant, I am sure it could be even more fun.