Ready In A Flash

Ready In A Flash

Q) When I’m photographing with a macro flash system, I find that the flash recycle times are too long. The critter has stopped doing what it was doing or left the flower. How do you deal with this problem?

A) Whenever using flash, I almost always use an auxiliary power source. The set of AA batteries usually found in a flash device is inadequate to support my photography. Waiting 10 or more seconds before I can take another image is just unacceptable, whether with macro subjects such as you mentioned, or with wildlife, where flash is being used as fill.

Years ago, I made my own battery packs from motorcycle batteries, being careful to match voltages as closely as possible. I never blew out a flash, but it sometimes made me nervous about what was in my pocket. The type of auxiliary power pack I now use is the Quantum Turbo 2x2 (www.QTM.com). Quantum has a number of other options, ranging from other turbo versions to compact batteries. These do add an element of weight. Generally, a battery pack would be carried in your vest pocket or clipped to your belt. Some photographers find the weight and/or the cable that connects the pack to the camera to be too annoying. For me, it’s a small concession to make. I find that the consistent ability to recycle the flash in one second makes it all worthwhile. A compromise auxiliary battery pack available for both Canon (Compact Battery Pack CP-E4) and Nikon (SD-8A Hi-Performance Battery Pack) contain an extra set of AA batteries and a capacitor that furnishes the flash with high-voltage output. These may not last as long as the turbo battery packs, but they’re lightweight and, instead of having to be recharged, the batteries are simply replaced. There are a number of other companies making auxiliary power supplies of various sizes and capacities. One of them should work for you.

When taking the five images necessary to capture this Amazon tree boa in full depth of field for Helicon Focus software, I needed to fire five times quickly before the snake moved. A Quantum Turbo 2x2 was my solution. I can fire at more than a frame per second and have the flash ready for each frame. I used a Canon EOS 5D and 180mm macro with a Canon MT-24EX Macro Flash.

One of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers and a leader in the field of digital imaging and photographic education, Lepp is the author of many books and the field editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine. One of Canon’s original Explorers of Light, Lepp finds inspiration in advancing technology that fuels creative innovation and expression of his life-long fascination with the natural world.

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