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This blog is intended to follow my progress this year in my pursuit of obtaining some worthwhile bird photographs.
Very much a beginner, with limited funds but almost unlimited time, I want to capture photographs that are more than mere record shots. I am not expecting many rare or even unusual species, but want to do justice to any bird that cares to pose for me.
Wish me luck and good light.
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Foolish Flash Fixation

Posted Friday 29th January 2010 at 18:08 by Denny Woodthorpe
Yesterday was something of a watershed for me. It all seems so easy and obvious now, but looking back, I can't believe how off track I have got myself lately.
I have struggled and struggled to make FP flash work so that I can get nice sharp photographs of garden birds. I have spent weeks experimenting with distances, settings and gadgets to get consistent results that do not look obvious flash photos. And to a large extent, I have been successful, but not quite successful enough. I have had too many failures and near misses and it has all become so complicated.
Two nights ago, whilst lying in the bath, I thought to myself there must be another answer. Then the obvious struck me. Why do I need flash? Surely I can operate with sufficient shutter speed to get decent pictures. After all, that's what I used to do.
It is amazing how you can become fixated on solving a problem, when you don't really have a problem to begin with. All my energy has been on trying to come up with an answer to the use of flash, when flash isn't needed on the majority of occasions.
Yesterday I put it to the test. O.K., it was a sunny day, which helped, but by using ISO 200, I was getting exposures of 3200 of a second - faster than I had been setting the flash to!!!
What's more, everything else became so simple. I didn't need to have a background so close (flash fall-off necessitated it with flash shots) and I didn't have to bother with off-camera cords, poles for mounting the flash on or measuring distances with a tape measure every time I wanted to take a few photos.
Yesterday it all became easy again - and more fun because of it.
For some reason, the overall quality of the photos seems better as well, or it might just be my imagination. Certainly I don't have to spend so much time in "post-production" to rescue exposure or contrast. In fact, that is probably why the quality looks better.
I still like to control background and perch, but lighting is simply controlled by positioning everything in relation to the ambient light. Simple.
It is also more portable, so I can transport the process to other sites. I can even do without backgrounds if the natural one is photogenic enough.
To most photographers out there, this must all seem quite laughable. In fact, I can laugh about it myself now, but believe me, I have spent many hours trying to beat the flash problem. It really became an end in itself, instead of the means to an end it should have been.
I just need it to stop raining now, so I can put it to the test again.

Another piece of great news came yesterday when my daughter phoned from Belgium. She has just gone to live out there for three years (husband in the forces) and we are going to spend a week out there in three weeks time. She phoned to tell me she had seen a crested tit in the garden twice, feeding from a seed feeder!! I asked her if she was sure and she was adamant. When I looked in my book of Europian birds, I discovered that crested tits are more common on the mainland of Europe, so I believe her. I've asked (or ordered) her to make sure she keeps the feeders well stocked for the next three weeks.
Here's hoping I get a shot of one - without flash!
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