Flash Extender

Having a flash extender in your wildlife photography kit bag to extend the range of your flashgun is essential. Flashguns work by spreading light in a wide area. Consequently the range that they are effective over can be quite limited.

With wildlife photography the subject is often further away than the flashgun can reach, or it is very diffused by the time it gets there. If you’re using a 300mm lens, for example, the angle of view is narrow and much of the power of the flash is wasted by lighting up areas that are outside of this.

This is where an extender comes in. It focuses the light of the flash into a narrower beam using a fresnel lens. Because the light is less spread out it can travel further.

I’m sure you’ve used one of those torches where you can adjust the width of the beam. You can have a widely dispersed beam that lights up the area immediately in front of you, or a narrower more focused beam that penetrates further into the distance.

That’s exactly what an extender does. If you focus the flash beam so that it covers the same angle as the angle of view of your lens, then it will have a greater range.

An often overlooked benefit is that it allows a greater depth of field to be achieved than just using a flashgun – even if it can reach the subject. The more intense light produced by the extender means that a smaller aperture can be used. In wildlife photography any increase in depth of field helps.

A word of warning – when its not in use remove it. If the sun is shining onto the extender, its rays are being focused onto the flashgun and its not unheard of for this to burn a whole in it. Under the right conditions its even possible for it to start a fire!

 

The Most Popular Flash Extender

One of the best flash extenders on the market is the Walt Anderson Better Beamer. I’m so impressed with this that I’ve covered it in more detail on a separate page.

Further Reading

Buying a flashgun – Cut through all of the jargon and discover exactly what to look for when purchasing a flashgun.

Flash Bracket – Improve your flash photography by mounting your flashgun on a flash bracket.

Macro Flash – Discover the miniature world of Macro Flash Photography.