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The “3000 Foot Flash” – when to use your flash outdoors

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It may have been too dim to shoot the moose, but Sara got this nice shot at Ox Bow Bend

It may have been too dim to shoot the moose, but Sara got this nice shot at Oxbow Bend

One evening at Oxbow Bend in The Grand Tetons, we were watching a cow moose browsing in the water. She was at least 200 yards away, and it was already too dim for a photo. But not according to someone who came up to us.

She claimed that she had successfully taken a photo showing the bottom of a 3000 foot canyon using the built-in flash of her point-and-shoot. She insisted that with our camera equipment, we should be able to capture the moose by using the flash! Uh, right.

She wouldn’t believe us when we said that she picked up the canyon based on ambient light rather than a flash—no flash is good for that distance (if it were, it would melt the camera—and probably the photographer—from the heat).

In most cases, the point-and-shoot users would get better results in dim, outdoor situations by turning off their flashes, at least when shooting distant objects. The flash is fine for closer shots, fill-in, or it the animal isn’t too distant, creating a “glint” in their eye (I’ve done this in bright light to get that specular highlight in the eye).

But not from 3000 feet! 😉

Written by Craig de Fasselle

May 8th, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Posted in Photo Tips,Tails from the Trail

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