Female Downy Woodpecker

Another shot out my open bedroom window. I really like the pose on this one. I wish there was a little more light, perhaps half a stop, on the head. My next assignment is to find the male and get him in the same place.

I did my best here to get the black plumage as dark and rich as possible but at the expense of losing some detail in the plumage. Any ideas?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
ISO 1600, 400+1.4 X, F7 .1, 2000th, fill flash, partially cloudy, about 50% of full frame

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HI David
It must be nice to go birding in a worm house, with a cup of coffee. Love that window. I thing the background is your problem. The exposure on the background and landing are maybe 1 stops high than on the Woodpecker. Maybe next time with a bark bird, make the full flash into the key light, bring the bird 1-2 stops higher.

@David_Schoen - What a cool opportunity. Hope they continue to come visit you at this location.

This is an image where your flash didn’t quite solve the problem. Your background was pretty bright, and the subject was a tough one with darks and whites. I would have opted for more flash power and an ambient setting of something like -2 or -1 2/3. That would enable you to work with two different exposures in the same image. Easy to say now, but obviously hard to do when you don’t have all the time in the world to think through the issues in front of the camera.

I took a stab at the image as presented. I worked to bring out more texture in the blacks without making them too bright. Tried to keep the whites with texture, but did brighten them up. I selected the bird and made it brighter overall with a few tweaks on the mask to make sure nothing was blown. I darkened the background and then took the image to the ACR filter and applied a heavy dose of noise reduction on the background only via a layer mask. Here’s the result. Not quite what I was hoping for, but maybe some ideas on what might be possible with the image and some thoughts on future opportunities.

edit: I just noticed the shutter speed was 1/2000 and that this is about 50% of full frame. Clearly you are in high speed sync mode so the flash power drops rapidly. At that shutter speed and subject distance, I’m guessing the flash did basically nothing for the exposure.

Thanks Keith.
This is a new flash for me and I am still figuring out all the nuances. I do know if I raise the power, even slightly, the image begins to have that flash look. On a partly cloudy day, the light changes are rapid and difficult to switch flash power rapidly with a constantly moving bird. Yeah, that’s the difference between someone with my level of experience and a pro. I will learn over time.

Very nice opportunity with the perch and BG. If you can set up 2 flashes at different angles to the subject, one stronger than the other, you can get away from the flashed look of an on-camera flash. Might be easy to set them up outside and use a radio trigger from the camera.

Really sweet pose with a lovely perch and background! I know it’s not perfect but it’s nice when we have the opportunity right outside our home, we can get lots of practice that way! It’s especially wonderful to get to know them and watch their lives!