Nikon D750, Sigma 150-600mm / f5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports Lens, tripod, Induro GHB2 gimbal head, Nikon SB 800 speed light, Better Beamer flash extender

I haven’t made a single click since two days <sigh>, because an indoor project kept me grounded. However, I have very little regrets, the weather has been really miserable the last couple days.

More birds have arrived here. Our House Wrens sing already since 4/16, the Whip-poor-will was heard the first time during the night of 4/20, and a female Scarlet Tanager landed briefly at a bird feeder on 4/25. That is the earliest we have ever seen a tanager in our woods. Finally the first male Rose-breasted Grosbeak showed up last Thursday, together with two Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

While trying to catch the kinglet this male Northern Cardinal posed for me briefly in a tree nearby. It was already 6:30pm but I still wanted a little bit of daylight in the background. To make this happen I shot this in DX cropping mode at 600 mm (900 mm FX) with 1/80s. The flash is still used as a fill flash, but only to reveal the colors of the cardinal. Sure, I could “nuke” this with 1/250s, and it would be tack-sharp, but the background would have been totally black and the photo would scream nothing but “FLASH!!”

The cardinal is an all-year-around bird here on our bluffs but it was its pose and gesture that make this image work for me.