My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

I knew in a flash

In my last post I said that I had been researching flash units, and had decided on the Canon EX 320. Well, I picked one up Thursday morning before I went for my daily walk, and all I can say is wow, I should have bought one a long time ago!

This will sound funny, but what I like most about it is how much I can control its output and make my photos look as if I hadn’t used a flash of any kind. I maybe a kook, buying a flash unit so that I can shoot photos that look as though I didn’t use a flash, but I’ll have more on that a bit later.

To begin with, I had the flash mounted on my Canon 60 D  body with the Beast (Sigma 150-500 mm lens) on it, and spotted some morning glories in the shade, a good subject to begin my testing. I had the flash settings of my camera still set to what I had been using for the camera’s built-in flash, and my first images with the EX 320 were way too dark, a very good sign to me.

The built-in flash of my camera over-powers and tries to over-expose everything all the time, and I have been setting it to – 2 1/3 stops to prevent that. So, I started dialing in the EX 320 for these.

Morning glory

Morning glory

That looked so good to me that I had to crop it slightly.

Morning glory

Morning glory

Here’s a two more to show what difference the flash made.

Morning glory, flashed

Morning glory, flashed

Morning glory, no flash

Morning glory, no flash

I was hoping to find some birds perched in the shade under the leaf canopy of trees, but had no luck finding any, so these geese had to do for testing the flash.

Canada geese

Canada geese

I probably should have gone up 1/3 stop for the geese, but that photo tells me what I need to know, the flash has a fairly good range, and will kill the shadows without the image showing that it was shot with a flash.

So, I spent the rest of the day playing, shooting various subject with and without the flash, but I won’t bore you with those photos. I’ll just throw in a two more to demonstrate how well I can control the EX 320 to get a good image with it that still looks natural.

Bull thistle

Bull thistle

Autumn is coming

Autumn is coming

I really, really like the fact that I can use the flash to get the shot without ending up with the very harsh shadows typical of many flash photos! I can set the EX 320 to add just enough light to add a little pop to the colors, shoot at a lower ISO for better image quality, and yet have the image look natural!

I didn’t need the flash for this butterfly, which was shot with the Tokina macro lens.

Viceroy butterfly

Viceroy butterfly

The last shot from Thursday shows one of the many features of the EX 320, wireless control of the unit. I can have that unit off from the camera and trigger it to fire wirelessly, as this rather crude test demonstrates.

Wireless testing of flash unit

Wireless testing of flash unit

Other features are a constant LED light, similar to the LED light panel that I already have. I don’t know how useful the LED light will be from the EX 320, it has a rather low output. If nothing else, it will make a good work light while I’m shooting sunrises or sunsets and can no longer see the camera controls.

The EX 320 also has a camera remote control feature, useable whether or not I have the EX 320 fire. That will come in very handy and it saves me from purchasing a separate remote control. For sunsets and sunrises when I have the camera on the tripod, I can fire the camera without the flash remotely to reduce camera shake, and for macro photos, I can fire the camera while holding the flash off camera and pointing the flash where I want the light to go. Very handy.

I’m not going to go into how flexible the EX 320 with the Canon 60 D bodies are as far as flash control, that will come with time as I learn to make use of all the controls that I have now. The only thing that I see may be a problem is that the EX 320 may not have a high enough output for when I’m in the Muskegon area trying to shoot towards the sun as often happens. That remains to be seen, but, I can also try firing both the EX 320 and the camera’s built-in flash to get a higher output. But, it doesn’t matter that much to me anyway, I am so happy with this unit’s performance so far for the types of photos that I shoot around home that I wouldn’t think of returning it.

I have a couple of photos from when I was trying to use the built-in flash for examples. Here’s an evening primrose with no flash in the rain.

Evening primrose in the rain, no flash

Evening primrose in the rain, no flash

Here’s the same flower with the built-in flash as best as I could do.

Evening primrose in the rain, with flash

Evening primrose in the rain, with flash

Of course the one with the flash is better, without it the image is just dead and lifeless. But, I think that the image shot with the flash would have been better if I could have dialed down the power output of the flash a little more. We’ll see, I’m almost hoping for more rain so I can try it. 😉

Okay, enough about flash photography for now, even though some of these photos that follow where shot with the camera’s flash.  I won’t tell you which ones, or what lens I used, because it’s been a while since I shot these, and I’ve forgotten many of the details. 😉

I’ll start with pillow rock.

Pillow rock

Pillow rock

I don’t know why I find that rock so interesting but I do.

I do remember that I shot this beetle with the 300 mm prime lens.

Unidentified beetle, 300 mm lens, cropped

Unidentified beetle

Because when I grabbed the second body with the Tokina macro lens, I bumped the plant causing the beetle to fall down to another leaf. It must have been mad at me for interrupting its meal, for it skulked off and wouldn’t pose for me after that.

Unidentified beetle

Unidentified beetle, Tokina 100 mm lens, not cropped

This is the last rose-breasted grosbeak that I’ve seen around here, I think the rest of them have headed south already.

Female rose-breasted grosbeak

Female rose-breasted grosbeak

I don’t usually shoot the house sparrows around here, but I had to shoot this mother and juvenile.

Mother and juvenile English house sparrow

Mother and juvenile English house sparrow

I think that all parents can relate to the look on the mother’s face in this next one.

Mother and juvenile English house sparrow

Mother and juvenile English house sparrow

I don’t know what this flower is, nor have I been able to find it again to get a better image of it.

Unidentified flower

Unidentified flower

My model in training, the female northern cardinal.

Female northern cardinal

Female northern cardinal

My lame attempt at an artistic photo of a morning glory.

Morning glory

Morning glory

I spotted a male indigo bunting, but he was perched where I had just the blue sky as a background, and because of it, the bunting’s true colors don’t show up well.

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

I was having a bad day that day anyway, I was too slow on the shutter all morning.

Male American goldfinch taking flight

Male American goldfinch taking flight

Unidentified insect taking flight

Unidentified insect taking flight

But then, my luck changed, I spotted the bunting again, but in the shade, so I still didn’t get the photo of him that I wanted.

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

He must have felt sorry for me, because he hopped over into the sunlight for these next images.

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

Male indigo bunting

Do you know how hard it was for me not to post every photo of the bunting that I shot? 😉 Those are cropped just a bit, and they are some of my best photos of the buntings.

The Michigan lilies are still blooming.

Michigan lily

Michigan lily

I was trying to get a photo of this butterfly with its wings backlit.

Unidentified butterfly

Unidentified butterfly

But a clear-winged moth flew by, and I ended up losing track of both the moth and the butterfly.

Unidentified butterfly and clear winged moth

Unidentified butterfly and clear winged moth

It’s hard to lose track of one of these.

Giant swallowtail butterfly

Giant swallowtail butterfly

A couple of insects on flowers.

Carpenter bee on chicory

Carpenter bee on chicory

Unidentified wasp on self heal

Unidentified wasp on self-heal

I don’t know if this sparrow is an adult molting, or a juvenile.

Chipping sparrow

Chipping sparrow

A few of the other flowers blooming now.

Boneset

Boneset

Boneset

Boneset

Self heal

Self heal

I shot this next one as much for the grass as the dragonfly perched on it.

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

This next one proves that I’ll shoot just about anything. 😉

Fish

Fish

Another example that shows that summer is winding down.

Autumn abstract

Autumn abstract

I haven’t seen many of these lately either, come to think of it.

Damselfly

Damselfly

And finally, a young red squirrel hiding from me.

Juvenile red squirrel

Juvenile red squirrel

Well, that’s about all for this one. I’m sure that I’ll have plenty more about the new flash unit coming up soon, but I’ll try to keep things brief when I do.

One thing that I learned today that has very little to do with photography is that one should be careful with their cell phone. I messed up the outer screen of my flip phone today while lying on the ground trying to shoot a water strider. Oh well, it was time for a new phone anyway, and this one still works, so I’m in no hurry.

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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13 responses

  1. Your identified flower is an Iris. We used to call them ‘flags’ when I was a kid up there in Muskegon. 🙂

    August 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    • Thanks Bob, I appreciate the help!

      August 16, 2014 at 3:22 am

  2. The flash is definitely a good piece of equipment. The bull thistle shot is wonderful. I laughed when I read your comment about the mother sparrow and then looked at the photo! My youngest daughter didn’t sleep through the night until she was three years old. I know how she feels! I loved the shot of the boneset flower and the indigo bunting is beautiful.

    August 15, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    • Thanks Clare! To me, the mother sparrow was saying “Geez, doesn’t this kid ever get full?”

      August 16, 2014 at 3:24 am

  3. I’m curious to see how much reach the flash has. I find that the built in flashes that I use have very little, so they wouldn’t be much help if I were shooting birds, for example. That’s another reason I’m thinking about a DSLR.
    I think your unidentified flower is a monkey flower, possible square stemmed monkey flower (Mimulus ringens.) If it is it would have been quite small.
    The wasp looks like a blue black wasp (Ichneumon centrator.)
    I like the shots of the indigo bunting and the Michigan lilies!

    August 15, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    • Thank you Allen! I have’t given the new flash the torture test as far as absolute range yet, that will come soon I hope. The EX 320 that I bought is a mid-priced unit, but it does everything that I want a flash to do. Some one builds a flash unit made for use with super-telephoto lenses for wildlife photography, but I can’t remember the name of it. It sounded expensive, out of my price range. 😉

      August 16, 2014 at 3:32 am

  4. What a grand variety of subjects you have managed to capture. Do you get any sleep at all?

    August 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    • Thanks Tom! I have very long legs so I cover the three miles a day fairly quickly, allowing lots of time to sleep.

      August 16, 2014 at 3:25 am

      • It is not just the time spent out with the camera, it is the time spent looking at the photos when you get home too.

        August 17, 2014 at 4:58 pm

  5. Hmmm… I never thought of using a flash for macros. I might have to consider it. Does it distort the color at all?

    August 16, 2014 at 12:28 am

    • If you set the color balance correctly and use a good flash, the colors should come out spot on, they did for me on the flowers in this post.

      August 16, 2014 at 3:28 am

  6. Interesting to see the difference the flash makes, good luck with your efforts.

    August 16, 2014 at 4:10 am

    • Thank you Susan!

      August 16, 2014 at 10:24 am