Using Flash for Nature Photography

In this episode of Photo Talk, I have a conversation with Greg Basco, one of our favorite photographers. Greg does amazing nature photography in the rain forests of Costa Rica. In this interview, he talks about his new ebook Flash for the Nature Photographer (which is available for purchase in the Shuttermonkeys online store). Greg discusses some of his favorite flash techniques and accessories.

In addition to the techniques and equipment that Greg discusses, here are some flash accessories that you might find particularly useful.


Flash Bracket

A flash bracket is a simple accessory that allows you to move your flash away from the lens' optical angle, illuminating your subject with more flattering light and helping to eliminate "red eye" (or "green eye" in certain animals like felines). Since your flash is no longer attached to your camera's hot shoe, you'll also need to use a flash cord that connects your flash to your camera.

On-Flash Accessories

You'll also want to consider accessories that attach to your flash, giving you more control over the flash beam and color. I recommend using the MagMod Flash Accessory System. It is a simple system that uses magnets, allowing you to easily add or remove accessory items to your flash. A good place to start is with The MagMod Starter Kit, which includes a diffuser to widen the flash beam and soften the light, and a flash grid which narrows the flash beam. Once you have the base kit, it is easy to add further accessories, allowing you to take total control of your flash system.

Snoot

While a flash grid is useful to narrow the flash beam, a snoot is a flash accessory that gives you even more control over the angle of the beam, allowing you to ensure that the flash only illuminates exactly what you want. Once again, I like the ease of the MagMod system, and their adjustable MagSnoot gives you many options to narrow the angle of light.

Colored Filters (Gels)

These allow you to change the color of the flash light, so that you can better match the flash light on your subject with the ambient light. Or, you can get funky with colors. Up to you!

Flash Extender

A flash extender focuses the beam of the flash through a fresnel lens, extending your flash range and allowing you to use flash with distant subjects. The MagMod system includes a fresnel option, but if you want to try something else, the "Better Beamer" is an extremely popular flash extender that is easy to use (just make sure to select one that fits your flash, as the link below takes you to the "base model" which might not fit larger flash units).

These are just a few of the flash accessories that I use to better control the angle and range of the light, allowing me to use flash to precisely illuminate my subjects. If you want to learn more about flash photography, I suggest you get a copy of Greg's ebook Flash for the Nature Photographer. It's an amazing ebook that will teach you everything you need to know about flash photography.