To Shoot A Hamster

Late, late at night, when I am the only one awake in the house, I am not alone; I always have hyperactive companions. They let me know that they’re awake with the rattling of hamster wheels.

Hamsters are always a challenge to shoot, because they’re always moving. Normal flash would overexpose, so…

Get up close, real close to the hamster. Switch to manual mode, turn on Macro, set the flash to its lowest power, lowest ISO, darkest aperture and fastest shutter speed (if you can set it). Both shots were on ISO 50, flash, F8, 1/500th of a second (I set it to 1/2000 but my camera refused to go faster.) The flash is already too strong even when it’s turned down. The darkest aperture helps with depth of field, lessening the effects of flash, and keeping more of the furball in focus.

Wow, my siblings have had them since the 23rd of August, 2005. I’m not sure, but I think that’s a pretty long lifespan for hamsters.

Oh, and I forgot to put this picture from the Fete De La Musique 2006. Even with a high ISO setting of 200, motion was blurred enough. Should’ve tried a slow-shutter flash, though.

11 thoughts on “To Shoot A Hamster

  1. ShaolinTiger Post author

    You can try diffusing the flash with some kleenex or some transulcent plastic if you have it, like those little bottles of yoghurt stuff.

    That will stop the flash being too harsh.

    The flash will only sync at 1/500 and slower, you can’t go faster than that unless you turn the flash off.

  2. Albert Ng Post author

    ShaolinTiger: Thanks! Yeah, should’ve draped a tissue. I think it turned out alright, having harsh light but not too intense to wash out the fur.

    Fird: Yes it is.

    Kyels: It was in Alliance Francaise, then Bangsar Telawi area. Don’t steal my hamsters, they’re my night companions who don’t require me to Alt-Tab when I’m Photoshopping!

    Mojam: Normally, to get as fast a shutter speed as possible, the ISO and aperture need to be brighter. However, in this case, I wanted fast shutter speed, but as dark an exposure as possible, to expose the fur properly.

    mamoyo: Nope, no pictures yet. 🙁

  3. Albert Ng Post author

    anonymous: I know it initially sounds contrary to logic, but you should try it out yourself. The low ISO is to compensate for very bright objects e.g. flashburned hamsters, the sun and the moon. Turning off flash and cranking up ISO would not suffice in room lighting, plus noise really detracts from the clarity of the fur. Another way would be to bring the hamster cage out into sunlight but I don’t wish to spill anything on the way out. 😛

  4. Albert Ng Post author

    Mojam: I’d rather not shoot at ISO 400; while I can clear the noise, too much detail is lost. This was as fast as I could get in that dark place, and I intended to portray motion blur anyway. 😀 If not, I’d have flashed with ISO 200 (so the flash would reach the crowd behind as well).


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