To Fill Flash or Not to Fill Flash...That is the Question

May 17, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Earlier this week, I captured a series of photographs of a female orangutan at the Brookfield Zoo. Although this animal is housed in an indoor exhibit, the light streaming in from the skylight of Tropic World was a little harsh and introduced more contrast into the picture than I wanted.

At first, I secured my camera/lens to a tripod and dialed in an appropriate exposure (1/40th @ f4, ISO 800). Here is the result:

Orangutan Then, I added some fill flash (TTL -1EV) using my Nikon SB-900 speedlight along with the Better Beamer. The flash allowed me to increase my shutter speed slightly (to 1/50th) and to reduce my ISO by one stop (to 400). Additionally, fill flash reduced the contrast within the frame by filling in the shadows. This allows for more detail--particularly in her hands and the fur along her shoulder:

Orangutan Of course, the amount of contrast desired in the photograph is a matter of personal taste. I happen to prefer the second image. One method of increasing the contrast is to reduce the amount of fill flash. Or, I can always increase the contrast while processing the photograph. Reducing contrast during post processing is a much more difficult task than increasing contrast. So, having the second image as a starting point provides me with much more flexibility during post processing.


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