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October 2015    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 30, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Is Your Camera Hurting Marine Life?

the effect of strobe and flash lighting on animals

from the October, 2015 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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A recent article of mine in Undercurrent about photographing seahorses ("The Fight to Stop Seahorse Photography" in the November 2013 issue) debated the effect strobes have on them. Despite my reference to the research work of David Harasti in that article, about how flash photography has no long-term effects on seahorses, I received a protest from one reader that a photographer's flash will stress and kill them.

All wild animals are paranoid. They are continually stressed. You only have to watch a bird or a squirrel feeding in your garden to be aware of this. Constantly facing the possibility of attack by a predator, wild animals are always alert and ready for flight.

When I was an advertising photographer, I photographed animals, from cats to chickens and chimpanzees. All needed time to become accustomed to the new surroundings of the studio or special location in which they found themselves, but once they did, they seemed to ignore the huge output of light from the strong flash commonly used in a studio. Thanks to the technology available at the time, I needed around a thousand times more flash output than is produced today by a typical underwater flashgun or strobe....


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