Friday Fox

I guess it's no secret that I take a lot of photos at night using flash. Up until a month or so ago I relied on the tiny in-built pop-up flash on my EOS 400D. That started to misfire slightly, and so I resurrected an ancient 1980s Canon Speedlite (188A). That worked well, was much stronger than the in-built unit, but because of its age was entirely unable to communicate with the camera. It had two settings: "Very Bright" and "Off". This meant it wasn't great if I was too close to something (the flash exposure compensation on the camera wouldn't work with it), plus it's recycling routine was so slow you could take an extended holiday while it re-charged. So I finally took the plunge today and got an up-to-date flash unit, the Canon 430EX. What a difference!

First thing is that I can control the flash. But better than that, the unit can control the flash so it more or less adjusts to the conditions (including focal length). Nice. An added advantage over the old pop-up flash is the auto-focus assist. The in-built pop-up used to fire a string of strobing flashes. Inaccurately, and at a frightening rate. Guaranteed to scare away anything within range. So I turned it off the day I got the camera, and it's stayed off ever since. The 188A didn't have any auto-focus assist at all. So for both of those I relied on carrying a torch and aiming that with one hand while holding and focusing the camera in the other. The 430EX is far better. It uses a broad red beam. Subtle and, as it turns out, very effective over medium distances. Plus the unit recycles incredibly quickly so it's possible to get many more shots fired off at speed. I'm happy 🙂 All this is by way of introduction to tonight's shots.

Taken from the bottom of the garden, some 50 feet away. I probably did shine a torch for this one, but I'm impressed with the strength of the flash. ISO 800, F/10, 1/160sec.

Somewhat closer, plus I could use both hands on the camera! ISO 200, F/10, 1/160sec.

I couldn't even see the fox through the viewfinder. The auto-focus assist did the lot. ISO 800, F/11, 1/200sec.

Camera note: all shots taken with the EF 24-105 F4L IS USM lens and Canon 430EX flash unit.

This entry was posted in Foxes and tagged , .


  1. Mickeyjoe-Irl December 22, 2007 at 12:12 am #

    Santa came early :up:

  2. Vulpes vulpes December 22, 2007 at 12:12 am #


  3. Flying Red Fox Blog December 22, 2007 at 7:12 am #

    Very nice:D Its amazing what cameras can do.

  4. SittingFox December 22, 2007 at 9:12 am #

    That's excellent! Early Christmas indeed :hat:

    Did you have issues with eyeshine on the more distant photos?

  5. filipinaballerina December 22, 2007 at 9:12 am #

    i'm needing a great flash gun…….clearly!!! 🙂 really good shots. very impressed with the quality of the assist!!

  6. Words December 22, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    Yes, an early present to self this one. But needed as I was beginning to struggle with the 188A. It's a great little unit and has a nice adjustable head if you are into 'bouncing' the flash. Useful indoors, but not so much in the garden.

    Adele – yes I do get eyeshine from a distance, though he had his head down on that first shot so that one is 'as is'. I do sometimes 'cheat' by recolouring the eyes if an otherwise good shot suffers from it. The fox's right eye on the second shot was the typical blue, so a minor retouch fixed that. His left eye was fine! I either use the red-eye feature in PhotoImpact, or simply use a paintbrush tool, working out from the pixel differentiation where the 'flash' should go. But close-up they're usually fine anyway. The angle also makes a difference. Slightly off-centre, or slightly down tends to help.

  7. CedarFox December 22, 2007 at 5:12 pm #

    Very 😎 Certainly outdoes my camera :up:

  8. Words December 23, 2007 at 12:12 am #

    Eric, it certainly helps having two hands free when I'm out there. The pop-up flash was fine for anything within about 20 feet, but struggled on longer distances. And good as it was, it's not really designed for the hammering I tend to give the camera.

  9. anonymous December 23, 2007 at 3:12 am #

    Nikki writes:

    Wow! That's amazing detail and lighting for that kind of distance.