Techniques

Balancing Flash with Ambient Light

by E.J. Peiker | May 1, 2012

© E.J. PeikerThis image of a Laysan Albatross was taken after sunset on Midway Atoll in the Central Pacific Ocean. The sky was lit up in gorgeous colors but the albatross was already very dark.

This is a situation where knowing that your camera is really taking two images in a single frame whenever flash is used comes in handy. By setting the ambient exposure to record the sky and background properly and setting the flash to expose the subject properly, the flash and ambient exposure are combined in a single shot to give a beautiful and balanced output. In this situation, I crawled up to the albatross on my belly hand holding a Nikon D700 and 70-200 f/2.8 lens and using the camera’s pop-up flash to illuminate the subject. I had adjusted the camera for the proper ambient exposure prior to taking the shot (1/60 sec, f/4, ISO 1600) and allowed the camera’s TTL flash exposure system to correctly expose the bird.

Laysan albatross © E.J. Peiker

About the Author

E.J. was born in 1960 in Augsburg, Germany and moved to Ohio in 1969. He attended Purdue University and earned a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical Engineering and completed graduate studies in Microelectronics and Semiconductor Physics. After working for the Intel Corporation for 27 years, he is now retired from the electronics industry and is a professional freelance photographer. E.J. and has formally studied photography at the University of New Mexico and completed courses from The Rocky Mountain School of Photography. E.J. has two sons, and has lived in Chandler, Arizona since 1994. A photographic specialty is artistic images of ducks and E.J. has published the book Ducks of North America - The Photographer's Guide. E.J. is also prolific in landscape photography, his first photographic love. E.J.'s photographs have been published worldwide in books, advertising, magazines, billboards, murals and more. Some of his publishers and clients include The National Geographic Society, World Wildlife Fund, The United States National Parks Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Navy, State Parks Arizona, Barrons, and Dorling Kindersley. New Zealand Post honored E.J. by making one of his penguin images the primary image for their 2014 Commemorative Antarctica Ross Dependency Stamp set. He has also been named one of the top 100 Wildlife Photographers in the world by Eastern Europe's Digital Photographer Magazine. Visit his website at: www.ejphoto.com.

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