I am always disappointed with images that look flat. Images captured without some kind of directional lighting leave me wanting more, and I rarely even bother firing the shutter when I don't feel some kind of emotional response to my light source. Photography is all about capturing a subject in some kind of meaningful, if not magical, lighting situation.
When it comes to bird photography, we are working with soft little round subjects that really need to be lit in some special way that will enhance the natural form and texture of the bird. Without this kind of lighting, our subjects can easily be lost into the backgrounds. While my photos very often try to make the surroundings just as important as the bird, I still want my birds to be focal points within the photo. To make that happen, I need lighting that brings the viewers eye to the soft feathers of my main subject.
Sometimes, no matter how hard I try, I just can't make an image pop. If I don't have the lighting I need, I know my image is going to be disappointing, and I might just as well not shoot. Yes, we have the ability to do so much now in post-processing, but nothing can replace the impact of original lighting. There is just no denying that truly great photos are all about light. I hope all of us can keep that in mind as we struggle to make those magical images we dream about.