Salvaging a Dreary Day - 09 May 2021

The rain came early this morning and lasted all day. It was one of those steady rains that had dark clouds all day that never let up. A November rain. In May.

The one consolation was that the jelly feeder was bustling with orioles all morning. Not only did I have several Baltimore Oriole adult males, but also a female and several juveniles. To top it off I also had a pair of juvenile Orchard Orioles that included a bright yellow / black-throated male, and another black-throated male with some adult plumage coming in. I was hoping to get some photos of all of them for comparison but lighting was awful. I decided to see if the Godox V860IIs flash would work on the Sony a1.

It did! In fact, when I hooked it up in the house I was getting 10-20 fps continuous flash in strobe-like effect from the combo. However, I found that it dropped to 1 flash pulse when I pointed it at the feeder 25' away, and it wasn't powerful enough to barely illuminate my subject.

I suspected that the TTL setting was causing the flash to max out power consumption to get the first exposure then needed to recharge. To test, I hooked up the XT1s transmitter and took the flash outside (in the rain) and set it up near the feeder to see if I could get more flashes per burst.

With the flash closer I was able to get 2 - 4 flashes in a burst depending on the brightness of the subject. This was ok because it gave me a chance to compare images w/ and w/o flash.

juvenile male Baltimore Oriole

The birds were not fazed by the flash and did their thing despite the pops of bright light that lasted microseconds. The little extra light allowed me to get some deeply-saturated images on a day that would've produced dull exposures.

 female Orchard Oriole; no flash

juvenile male Orchard Oriole; no flash

with flash

female Orchard Oriole; flash

juvenile male Orchard Oriole; flash

Adult male Baltimore Oriole; flash

no flash

The female Orchard Oriole was a tough one to ID as they are remarkably similar to female Baltimore Orioles. The differentiating factors are the uniform yellow underparts of the bird above that push it toward Orchard vs. the two-tone orange-tinged chest and lighter belly of the Baltmore Oriole female. Wing bars are generally broad in Baltimore Orioles (see the male above) while the wing bar is narrow in Orchard Oriole. Also, note the bill appears more two-tone w/ the upper bill darker  in the Orchard Oriole vs. the mostly blue upper bill in the Baltimore Oriole. 

I did have another juvenile male that was all yellow with the black throat patch, but it came early and did not return. 

Other sightings included a pair of White-crowned Sparrows, and a singing Carolina Wren. This House Finch made for a nice portrait, as well.

Though I do not plan to use the flash very often, its nice to know that it worked on the Sony a1. I could not get the flash to work on the a9 even though it worked well w/ the a7III. I may experiment more as time goes on, but I'll leave it here.


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