Wrentit and re-post

These birds tend to flit deep in bushes and I’ve had trouble getting decent shots. I had to use the on-camera flash for this shot and I feel it came out reasonably well.

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

Any pertinent technical details:

Canon 7D Mark II; Sigma 150-600 at 232 mm. 1/250 with flash at f6.3; ISO 400

The flash worked pretty well, Allen, though I think it might have worked even better with a touch of negative compensation on the flash. I like that the background wasn’t unduly darkened by the flash. Detail in the Wrentit is superb and I like the pose.

The bird seems nice and sharp. It does have a flashed look though. I would have wanted at least -2 or more of flash compensation.

Hi Allen, I really like how the flash really helped bring out the detail in the feathers. I have a question and I am not trying to be a wise guy, but why did you decide to use a flash? Was the bird in the shadows completely? Was the light on the subject uneven (partly lit and partly in shadows)? Or was the background maybe in direct light and the subject had no light? I think this answer plays a part in how to handle this situation, so it might help with a critique.

Hello, Allan - I tend to agree with Keith about the flash. That said, the bird stand our really nice and I like the it looking curiously. Cheers, Hans

Hi Kurt,
Thanks for commenting. This was taken in the forest with little light to begin with and then the wrentit was further shaded by the bush. I would have been shooting at an ISO of 6400 (which usually gives me quite unacceptable noise) even at a slow speed. In processing, I added a brightness layer and maybe that was a mistake, and brings out the “flashed” look. Here’s the file before that layer was added. I usually don’t use flash, so advice for future attempts is appreciated.

Thanks to all who have commented.

Ahh… This looks better to my eyes than the original. Maybe a tad dark, but not much. If you’re referencing the Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, I would avoid that option. It is just to much of a sledge hammer. Levels or Curves provides much more control over tonal ranges. A mask to only slightly increase the bird on this would be the ticket for me.

I agree that the brightness layer isn’t needed. But I also agree with Dennis and his point about use of negative compensation on the flash. I used fill flash extensively in our photo business, but seldom at full pop. A diffuser or even a reflector could also help, but only if only the setup allowed for hands free use while working such quick subjects.

Another note from pro-shooting with flash: Negative flash compensation might also help by cutting the power needs of your strobe. You might retain enough strobe charge to allow auto-bracketing for at least 3 shots. That was key in many settings I worked, and I chose my strobe of the moment based upon power needs for auto-brackets. It was a lifesaver in fast-evolving situations where there was no opportunity for bracketed single shots.

I really like the curious pose with the offset angle on the perch. I agree with Keith that the image without the brightness layer would be preferred if it were a tiny bit brighter. I would use TK luminosity masks to achieve that end. With respect to the fill flash, it was probably wise to use this considering your lighting conditions, however, I also typically use much lower power; around -2 to -1. I am a little farther north than you are and I find that fill flash is essential in my area where there appears to be less light most of the time.

The second image is much better and looks much more natural than the first, nice job getting so close to this shy species Allen!