Flashhhhh! AAA-aaah!

by John Downey

These two images were taken in the yard with the assistance of our daughter who had been holding a small butterfly hostage in a cardboard box for a few days. We decided to commute its sentence for good behavior and set it on some small purple flowers. Lethargic and dehydrated, it began to drink and wouldn’t move. Ella shrieked, “Hey look Dad, the butterfly is drinking with its hibiscus!” Hey, she really knows her flowers. I grabbed camera, flash and sync cord, having Ella hold the flash with a dome diffuser about six inches from the butterfly, just out of the frame. The diffuser softened the light, but not as much as I wanted. Here, it still looks like flash was used as the light source.

The second frame is not ideal but better. Ella drew the flash head further away and I dialed down to 1/128 power. A slight warming in Lightroom and you get an overcast day-like light.  I was wearing a white t-shirt that bounced a bit of light back into and under the butterfly, smoothing the gradations out (this was definitely accidental). If I wanted to increase depth of field to sharpen details behind the eyes and butterfly’s proboscis, I would have needed a faster ISO and more power, Scotty.

Tip – shutter speed controls ambient light while aperture controls flash.


Canon 5DmkII, ISO 200, 1/160@f8

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