Flash for Bird Photography III
Twenty four hours ago I did not intend to make a part three to Flash for Bird Photography. Yesterday I had no intention of posting anything at all this week, I planned on skipping this week in its entirety something I have not done in a few years. I am told that blogs are antiquated now along with magazines and print photos. Good thing I tend to not believe a lot of what I hear these days. Like most of you I am sure, I don’t have a lot of spare time either. Writing and researching for this blog takes precious time that could be spent in other ways. Not that I am complaining in any way about that, it is a labor of love and maintaining a steady schedule proves the level of commitment and keeps my writing skills intact. There was also the bitter disappointment of a post I wrote several weeks ago. “A Cry to the Heavens–For Aaron Swartz” had the fewest readers of any post in years. What I considered to be one of the most important topics of our time has gone unnoticed. I refuse to discount the intellect and compassion of any of you though, the only thing I can say is that we all encounter the forces of evil from time to time. If you are a new reader or just have not had the time to get there, I urge you to read the post and get involved.
I am not quite finished with the flash for birds subject because it really is one of those things that can take your bird photography to the next level, the pro level. Probably going to repeat myself a little but it is important to review and emphasize that the addition of flash will in many instances greatly improve your pictures. The color temp of flash is usually pretty close to being daylight balanced so there is really no need to “gel” or change the color of light the device makes. If you decide to use CTO gel to get that sunset glow you are going to cut down on your power a bit and probably over do the orange to a point that it does not look natural. you can always make small temp. changes in post processing and that is what I suggest you do. And do remember on of my great post processing tip of painting some warming color to only the subject, giving your picture a little extra pop.
There are also times when flash is needed for fill and low light situations. Not the best way to use the light in my opinion it is at times the only solution. In the photo above you can see there is little ambient light and the flash light is on the verge of becoming the main source of light. At a shutter speed of 1/80sec it was near impossible to stop the motion of the Sandpiper walking through the water and dropping its bill into the water without some blurring. In this case the flash also served to freeze motion making that slow shutter speed useful again. Rather than changing all my settings to get the shutter speed up (and in this case add noise to the image) I was able to keep everything right where I wanted it to be, making the picture come out the way I wanted it to be. Also, notice the catch light in the eyes.