Critters usually trigger my camera traps at night, so lighting is a huge part of my photography. Without flashes, my photos would be black frames with nothing in them. I’m not exaggerating, way too many times I’ve checked a set to find that my flashes failed and the only images I captured were black rectangles.
Lighting is essential to camera trapping. Unfortunately, lighting critters outdoors, at night, is a huge challenge. Large backgrounds, small flashes, and no ambient light make a great recipe for ugly photos and frustration. I’ve been there. Luckily I’ve come a long way, and I owe a lot of my progress to one person–David Hobby. Hobby is the author of Strobist, an incrediblee blog which is undoubtedly the world’s best resource for learning to light.
A couple weeks back I was trying to get the hang of Twitter and I randomly decided to tweet David Hobby and thank him for teaching me to light. I got a really nice tweet back right away. It might sound dorky, but as a lighting photographer, getting a tweet from David Hobby is a big deal, kind of like if you were a writer and found an email from Jonathan Franzen in your inbox. As if it wasn’t cool enough just to get a response, Hobby had some real nice things to say about my photography and wanted to write a blog post about it. This was really exciting for me. Strobist has been my main source of photographic inspiration for the last five years. Before I went to Africa I stayed up at night re-reading Hobby’s “On-Assignment” posts to brush up on my skills and get new ideas for camera trap lighting. It’s really fun to think that next time I’m strolling through the OA posts before a big trip, I’ll see one called “Studio in the Wild” that is actually about me.
In addition to writing up the post, DH gave me some real-time help with lighting one of my camera trap sets. Here’s a recent image from one of those sets, a gray fox photographed during the super blood moon.