One of the secrets to getting good bird images, and wildlife in general, is knowing when to apply flash. A really respected photographer once told me “Just because you have the tools, doesn’t mean you always need to apply them”. Very true and something, like most things in photography, need to be learned and practiced. One of my favorite places on earth is my backyard studio. Here I can play with ideas, techniques and simply learn about light free of charge. Here is an example of what I am talking about. This female house finch was in the perfect patch of sunlight late in the evening.
Utilizing flash on this gorgeous light would have ruined the picture in my humble opinion. Now, and argument can be made for the use of flash. Melding together the ambient light with just a kiss of flash may have opened up the shadows a bit, but for me the light could not have been any sweeter so flash was not applied in this case. With the warm sunlight just kissing the back and the crown of the bird, along with her looking back at me made the shot which I think makes the argument, there is a time and place for flash.
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