Chipmunk - UPDATED with FILL FLASH example

Thread starter #1


Senior Member
A chipmunk from yesterday. I saw him going in and out of a hollow in the base of a beech tree. So, I walked waaay back to my truck & got my gear togather. When I came back (5 to 10 minutes later?), he was STILL there! :clap:

I got a few shots of him that I liked.

Nikon D300s, Nikkor 400 mm, f/4.5, 1/250th second, ISO 200, tripod, fill flash, cropped slightly.


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Senior Member
Very nice picture, super sharp and nice color. I need to look into fill flash. It works very well for you and I remember you saying once that you use for birds.


They are a lot of fun to shoot if you can get em to stay put long enough. Another one of those critters that seem to sense exactly when I'm going to mush the shutter button. Great capture, Rip.

Thread starter #5


Senior Member
Thanks, y'all! He was pretty cooperative.

I need to look into fill flash. It works very well for you and I remember you saying once that you use for birds.
I highly recommend fill flash, and will be glad to demonstrate any time. I ought to do a few "with & without" shot pairs. I'll try to work up two from this chipmunk.

I really enjoy shooting in natural light (and still use natural light as my "main" light most of the time), but learning the ability to modify that natural lighting with flash as fill lighting, spot lighting, rim lighting, etc. sure enhances lots of images. Using fill flash with today's Nikon, Canon, & other modern TTL systems has gotten really easy (most of the time...). Basically, I try to use fill flash to a point where you can't really tell that flash was used (basically "fill" or brighten the darkest 2 or 3 stops of light...).

The shadow in this image isn't from the flash - it's from the sun. The shadow was darker in the "real" world, and there was more difference between light & dark than the sensor could easily record. Fill flash made it a nicer shot.

I'll see if I can work up a pair really quickly showing natural light & fill flash.
Thread starter #6


Senior Member
Okay, so I went back to a series that I shot yesterday where I knew that I used fill flash for some shots and natural light for others...

Based on the image on the back of my camera, I wasn't too happy with the results when I was using fill flash. I was trying to use fill flash to show some of the detail INSIDE the cavity at the base of the beech. To me, when I was using just natural light, the overall contrast & "warmth" of the scene was just kind of "blah" without enough detail.

MOST of the time when I use fill flash, I modify my exposure to get it how I want, then set my flash to use 1 2/3 to 3 stops less light than if it were going to be the main light (this is called negative flash compensation in your camera manuals & books). I adjusted the flash compensation several times trying to optimize the shot below.

I worked up the shot that looked "best" to me, and I worked up the shot that I took in natural light. These images were numbers 1753 and 1755 in my EXIF data. The fill flash photo was taken at: 11/17/2011 – 4:48:08 PM. The natural light photo was taken at: 11/17/2011 – 4:48:21 PM. So, the photos were taken 13 seconds apart - basically the same light (somewhat dark clouds over the sun at this point), the only difference was the fill flash (and a VERY slight shift in camera position).

So, the first shot will be natural light:
Nikon D300s, Nikkor 400 mm, f/9, 1/250th second, ISO 1600, tripod, full frame, natural light.

The second shot is using fill flash:
Nikon D300s, Nikkor 400 mm, f/9, 1/250th second, ISO 800, tripod, full frame, fill flash, probably at -3 stops. (I can't find in my EXIF data where it records the flash exposure compensation; I know Opanda used to show it, but since I reloaded Opanda Exif Viewer, I don't have it configured quite the same way).

I wasn't real happy with the "drabness" in the natural shot, and I didn't like the overall "brightness" inside the cavity of the fill flash shot (still too much fill flash).

Since the shots looked very similar, I overlayed them as layers & made the natural light shot be about 53% opacity. I had to "nudge" that layer slight up and over to align the chipmunk, so I cropped it slightly again for display here. I like the combination of the two shots better than either alone (and wouldn't have done it, if Topwater hadn't commented on the use of fill flash...).



Senior Member
very nice rip!im sure we would all like to learn some about fill flash.


Staff member
Wow! What a difference. Great shooting and great teaching! Thanks Rip.


Senior Member
Great job rip in the teaching and shots.
Thanks for the lesson, Rip. Haven't added anything to the tips sticky in some time, but I believe we have one here that needs to be added.



Shutter Mushin' Mod
you certainly taught me the benefits ! although me and that better beamer are still not seein' eye to eye !


Retired Woody's Mod 7/01-12/09
Real neat chipmunk capture and more helpful info