Fill Flash Wildlife Photography: How to Use it in the Field

Fill Flash Wildlife Photography: How to Use it in the Field

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Fill-in Flash for Wildlife Photography: How to Use it in the Field. Fill-flash is a great technique for wildlife photography – if you do it right. In this photography tutorial I show you how to use it practically in the field and get balanced exposures. There’s also comparison photos showing with and without flash, so that you can see exactly how it works. This video is rather epic, weighing in at just under 18 minutes… most of my videos barely make 7! Please stick with it: there’s some valuable information in here.!

Filmed with Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX500.
Equipment: Canon 1DX Mark i, Canon 400mm f5.6 EF USM lens; Canon Speedlite Flash 580 EXii.

My equipment: If you purchase any of these items, that I use and recommend, through the Amazon links I receive a small commission which is massively appreciated and it helps me to keep creating new videos.

Movo GH700 gimbal head:
Canon 400mm f5.6 lens:
Canon 1.4 extender:
Canon 100mm f2.8:

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13 thoughts on “Fill Flash Wildlife Photography: How to Use it in the Field”

  1. Very interesting video and I could have learned more from it but I had to abandon it after about 6 minutes because that dreadful 'music' coming in randomly was distracting and irritating.

  2. Thanks for doing this video Paul! So what about when you're in the golden hour? I was just taking pics of my dog and tried the fill flash and the dog came out white (she is a white dog) and the parts that were not lit by the flash were the nice golden color we crave. They make a flash holder that will get your flash higher than the hot shoe if you have problems with red eye. I think I'm going to get one as I do have that issue with taking pictures of my dog, which is my test subject. She is usually a lot closer than a bird would be, so it may not be needed in nature.

  3. Excellent video Paul – I think I will try this at Adel Dam in the first hide where light is generally quite low. Thanks!

  4. Great video Paul. Covered everything thoroughly. One note of caution I'd like to add.
    If you are lucky enough to be photographing wild elephants then don't use the flash as it can trigger unexpected results – like panicking them and you wouldn't want to be around an elephant at that point.
    I guess what I'm saying is that there are some dangerous animals out there that can do unpredictable things.
    It gets even funnier if you try flash on a night safari. Works well using these same principles with more power but I always stick to mongooses and the like.
    Seriously I was warned!

  5. I do use flash but very very rarely, and I do have a flash extender but as you say it’s only a tad on dark grey 'flat' days. My speedlights all have HSS and most are around GN59, I also have some Godox external power packs. I look like I’m going into the Amazon not Mere Sands Woods but that's the advantage of a mobility scooter carrying everything for you. You can get some great RCS shots, though I've never been successful. I don’t use it ever to over power bright daylight as some do. If I’m going to use it on a raptor I would go at 1- 1 2/3 stops down because of the sensitivity of their eyes but usually I have it at at least 2/3 of a stop down for other subjects. I'm very wary of disturbing wildlife, deer seem to be totally oblivious of it though roe are my only experience. It is a great tool if used correctly and sensibly. However, I still worry about people photographing owls at sunset with their speedlight on full power to use the inverse square law to make everything else black. There's research saying that could be dangerous to raptors eyesight due to the way the I cranial nerve works, equally there’s research saying there’s no proof of this. It’s also called "steel eye" with birds if anyone wants to look it up.

    A very interesting video Paul, one I'm sure will raise some good debates as it’s quite a controversial subject to broach. Well done on how you put it forward and explaining the perimeters of how it should be used.

  6. Great tips Paul, and some beautiful pictures. The Panasonic Eneloop batteries are an excellent choice and that's all I use.

  7. Hi Paul
    Loving these videos your putting out! I was wondering do you ever miss the fact the 400mm f5.6 doesn't have IS? I've been think about getting this 400mm lens but without the IS I wonder if I would miss it! All the best!

  8. Here's my epic 18 minute video on Fill-in Flash for Wildlife Photography. Remember – whatever you do, don't Over-flash!!

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