I went out around dawn a week or so back to photograph some insects. I found a few obliging dragonflies. As the wind picked up gradually, I needed to start using flash to freeze the movement the breeze created.

I thought it would be interesting to show the way different lighting can effect the look of a subject.  Below are 3 images of the same dragonfly taken over a couple of minutes with a little bit of information below each as to the technique used and my opinion on the result. The shots were all taken with a tripod mounted Canon5D3 with sigma 180mm Macro lens attached and cable release used to avoid camera movement. Where used the flash illumination was provided by a single 430EX flash in the hotshoe with a homemade diffuser attached.

The above photo was taken using just natural  morning light, camera setting 1/20thsec @ f8 ISO500.  Natural soft light images can look really beautiful with minimal shadows. This morning was a bit overcast so the light is a bit cool, ie a bit blue and green. Even though this was taken toward the end of the session at about 0800 the shutter speed is still low, so any wind movement blurrs detail.

In this shot taken at 1/25thsec @ f8 ISO500 I have used flash on lowish power to introduce some fill light to the photo. The colour of the dragonfly has changed a bit due to its partial illumination by the flash. The flash has also partially revealed the presence of a spider web. Fill flash ie using powered down flash is an excellent technique to eliminate or soften harsh shadows. 

In this photo flash illumination is the dominant light. The short duration of the flash freezes motiion in the image. Camera was set at 1/200th @ f11 ISO640. Because the background is further from the flash it is darker. interestingly the spiderweb is more visible in this shot as it is closer to the flash and catching more light.   Flash illumination often doesnt give as nice a 'look' to an image as natural light, but often conditions determine the technique that needs to be applied if you want to capture optimal detail.