Bat at night - version 2

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Ganesh H Shankar
Bat at night - version 2
Couple of months back I had an opportunity to make some images of bats at night. One of them I posted earlier here. I returned back yesterday after couple of weeks of vacation near Western Ghats regions. During last week of December I again spent a week photographying flying bats at night. A few things changed for good and few towards bad this time. The bad thing being it was getting quite dark around 6:30pm itself (about 10-15min earlier compared to what it used to be during Oct). It meant a lot for AF performance and my opportunity window to photograph them for everyday got reduced. Another bad thing being bats did not change their time ! Good thing this time however being, I had D700 with much better noise performance compared to D300 which I used earlier. I also learnt some lessons during last sessions about the use of flash and limitations I was living with. Recycle time of one such issue. I took care of some of them. This time I also tried some closer perspectives. Here is one such.

Image details - Nikon D700, Nikon 70-200mm AF-S f2.8, manual exposure - f2.8, 1/80s at ISO 1000, SB-800, 98% failures, a few acceptable ones from 1 week experiments, about 10 minutes each day.


Here again the image is far from perfect for my taste - flash light creates glowing eyes - not sure how to get that eliminated. If you know a solution please let me know. Details are not as good compared to details that we see in flight images of birds made during day time thanks to low light and exposure accuracy. Exposure meter always screamed under exposure. AF-assist lights will not help since bats seem to take different route the moment they see some continuous source of light. No, I am not planning on buying 200mm f2 lens for this purpose :)

Thanks for your views..
Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:19 pm
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Ganesh H. Shankar
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Ganesh H Shankar  Joined CNP On 24 Apr 2008    Total Image posts 630    -   Total Image Comments 5698    -   Image Post to Comment Ratio 1:9    -   Image Comment Density 39     -     Total Forum Posts 832

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Commentby AAA on Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:37 pm

beautiful attempt Ganesh !! did the cam AF in the fading light or did u use a torch or something.
red eye comes coz, wen it flashes the aperture of the creature will be full open and the light reflects from the retina in full. built in flash have a red-eye reduction mode which fire a flash first which forces the eye to reduce the aperture and then the shutter sync flash fires.
sadly dont have this mode in external flash (may be due to recycle issues.)
the only option is to off-camera the flash !! using some radio controlled device or something !! the bigger the angle thats created by flash-subject-camera.. .the lesser the red-eye !! :D

u might know all these... but still i think it will help somebody !! :D

regards
Anoop

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 6:49 pm

Anoop, it is not red eyes, it is glowing eyes. I did use an external flash (SB-800). Also, I have tried different flash modes including red-eye reduction - no use. I also tried various other combinations - rear sync, high speed sync etc - lots of learning from those experiments but did not help improve the quality further..

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Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

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Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
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Commentby Pramod Viswanath on Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:17 pm

"Here again the image is far from perfect for my taste" - Phew it just show how high your standards are. Never statisfied, always yearning to better the existing images is simply an attitude in rarity!

The effort is phenomenal here and I am just stunned by the quality you have pulled it off here. I just can't even think of version 3! The best part is you have shared the information so well here, yet its the "vertical limit" for all of us to even think of making an image of a bat like this. Award winning image Ganesh!

--
Pramod Viswanath
Frames from wild | My Blog
Our only limitation is imagination !

Commentby Vijay Sirdesai on Mon Jan 05, 2009 8:35 pm

Hi, Ganesh
Nice attempt, good seeing this. The glowing eye syndrome has definitely been the spoil sport
of night photography to many in the wild, even I would like to know a solution to it.

Have you ever used or considered using a Better Beamer Flash Extender in the given situation.
The Flash X-Tender (Better Beamer) FX-4 Flash Output Booster for the Nikon SB-600 & SB-800
Flashes with Lenses 300mm and Longer.
http://www.adorama.com/FAFX4.html

Regards,
Vijay Sirdesai

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:00 pm

Vijay, I do have a better beamer flash extender and used it during my last experiments without much success. I did not use it this time - more bulk makes it less stable for panning during low lights and slower shutter speeds. May be I should give it a second consideration..

--
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Image
Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
Facebook Pages Ganesh H. Shankar | Fine Art Nature Photography | Art Of Life

Commentby Vijay Mohan Raj on Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:20 pm

Ganesh I think this image has a true depiction of the bat as a nocturnal mammal, infact the details in the bat are much better this time, however as you rightly pointed out the reflection of the eyes is something one has to come to terms with, maybe an angled or offshoe flash. I would love to see a rear curtain sync version where ghosting of the bat is likely.

--
A creative mind is a restless soul...

Commentby Nilanjan Das on Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:24 pm

How did you even shoot this ? I simply have no idea why this image is far below what you would have wanted. My God !!! I initially thought you had this remote set up with sensors and all. But reading the details, the head started spinning. In my honest opinion if the glow on the eyes were missing, I presume it would have looked dark and may be would have looked odd. Whats wrong with the glowing eyes ? They look fantastic, I am dying to see a large large version of this :). Superb details on the wings, light and shade and you get them only for 10 mins that too changing flight directions erratically. I am already dying to know how you converted this impossible task to reality. A perfect 10 from me.

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Nilanjan Das Photography

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:27 pm

VMR, I did experiment with rear-sync hoping to generate that effect of trail and movement. But could not suceed. I think rear-sync adds further to exposure issues since output power seem to decrease. I need to study the science behind these mechanisms in some more detail and try that next time. Both red-eye reduction and rear-sync seem to reduce the output levels. Red-eye reduction simply would not work due to the lag between pre-fires and actual release and associated AF issues at low light. I need to study all those failures carefully to investigate what went wrong - so not deleting all failed images for now..

--
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Image
Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
Facebook Pages Ganesh H. Shankar | Fine Art Nature Photography | Art Of Life

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Mon Jan 05, 2009 9:30 pm

Nilanjan, thanks for your views. I have seen better bat images made at night compared to this one (some of them in controlled conditions however).

--
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Image
Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
Facebook Pages Ganesh H. Shankar | Fine Art Nature Photography | Art Of Life

Commentby AAA on Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:18 pm

what ever it is Ganesh, I believe the glow comes because the the light path flash-subject and then subject-camera is the same. the glow u see in the eye is simply the flash light, right. (regardless of the mode you use the flash fires at some time ... it gets reflected.. it gets registered in the cam)
So what i think will work is just off-camera the flash at a distance (yes u might need some help) the light will reflect back to the flash and not to the cam.
i have an external flash and is waiting for my radio controller.. will tell you if it succeeds !!

also the experiment with rear-sync (to generate that effect of trail and movement) will work only if there is enuf ambient light. if the lighting conditions present are so dark that the camera sees it as no light (eyes might still be able to see) the effect registered will only be as that of an ordinary flash.

hope I am not 100% wrong !!

regards,
Anoop



» Last edited by AAA on Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:19 pm; edited 1 time in total

Commentby Ganesh H Shankar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:23 am

Anoop, I do have equipements needed for off camera operation of the flash. In this situation I think it is a tough solution since someone else need to be holding the flash from other direction pointing towards the flying bats. The person holding the flash need to point to the right flying bat out a few :) May be worth trying, I may still live with a non-zero probability of making an image :) Thanks for your suggestion.

Can you elaborate on - "also the experiment with rear-sync (to generate that effect of trail and movement) will work only if there is enuf ambient light. if the lighting conditions present are so dark that the camera sees it as no light (eyes might still be able to see) the effect registered will only be as that of an ordinary flash." ? Like to know what is the relation between ambient light and rear-sync.

--
Ganesh H. Shankar
Wishing you best light,

Image
Personal Websites Fine Art Nature Photography
Facebook Pages Ganesh H. Shankar | Fine Art Nature Photography | Art Of Life



» Last edited by Ganesh H Shankar on Tue Jan 06, 2009 9:33 am; edited 1 time in total

Commentby Santosh Saligram on Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:58 am

Simply fantastic result. This image is the very epitome of all the virtues - hard work, patience, planning, timing and perseverance, that are absolutely essential for the successful execution of an incredibly difficult shot like this and odds are well against the photographer. It is but natural that when all these virtues are put into practice, the result is something special, something memorable, which is what this image is.

As for critique, I love the outstretched wings and the smoothness and softness of the texture on them. I also love the colour of the body. Like I said on another forum the glow in the eyes is a small nit, but since you tried everything you could have in your strength and still couldn't avoid it, I suppose it can't be helped. The D700's noise performance looks indeed phenomenal. This image will stay in my memory for a long time. Or until you better this. :-)

Commentby AAA on Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:51 am

regarding off camera.. yes its still worth a try. if u can have some help for holding the cam.
some thing like this http://www.swpp.co.uk/professional_imag ... ts/ad8.jpg will be helpful i think

regarding rear-sync. (i hope u want to do something like this : http://cubox.info/uploads/posts/2007-10 ... _05_12.jpg)
some points
~~~~~~~
1) Rear sync, or rear curtain, fires the flash at the end of the exposure, making it ideal for use with moving subjects. right?
2) what ever be the shutter speed the flash fires for a fixed amount of time. say 1/10000 or so of a sec.

with this in mind. consider some situation like this.
see this for example
gallery/image_page.php?album_id=1&image_id=1371
(bad example though may be)
its taken at around 6.30 PM, F2.8, 1 sec or so.
if i had a flash in my hand, i have two options. front-sync (Corrrect word ??) and rear-sync. (with the same exposure settings as above)
it i had used front sync then the bat image would have became clear @ the left of the image and a trail comeing to the right : clearly not an ideal feel.
in that case i use rear sync... the pic will be recorded in the sensor as in the above pic and just before the shutter is going to close, the flash fires. so u get a clear image of the bat @ end of the trail giving a sense of movement.

consider a situation if we dont have any ambient light. there is no light around so that the camera can record a trail or so. but since the flash output is quite powerful... u get a clear image of the subject with dark background with the placement of the subject in the frame depending on when the flash fires.

btw. i havnt tried all these things yet.. all are things that i assume. could be wrong or right. dont have any shot of mine to show as proof.

regards,
Anoop

Commentby Sriharsha Ganjam on Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:04 pm

I would count this as a very successful image Ganesh, despite the glowing eyes. It shows the true habitat of these creatures and as always it is a challenge to get the nocturnal creatures represented right. But this comes very close to reality and the fact that you are still trying without giving up is something we should all learn. Brilliant shot sir

Commentby Shankar Kiragi on Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:45 am

Ganesh, Results are worth the effort. This is another master piece from you. To me gloving eye is fine. I have seen many beautiful images with gloving eyes of many creatures. Red eye reduction technique is for humans eyes or controlled conditions :-)

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Cheers, Shankar Kiragi