July 29th, 2016

Can You Do It? How Sharp is Sharp Enough??? And the Pen Test for Sharpness...

What’s Up?

I got lots of work done on Thursday when this blog post was prepared. I enjoyed a nice swim in the community pool at my Mom’s place and got back to doing my core exercises, at least some of them 🙂


The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 261 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. AND Please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.


double-crested-cormorant-with-white-crests-raised-_t0a7217-la-jolla-ca

This image was created in San Diego last February with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2/3 stops as framed: 1/125 sec. at f/8. AWB.

Center AF point (by necessity)/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure; the selected AF point fell on the side of the bird’s neck just rear of the base of its bill. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Double-crested Cormorant with white crests raised

Those White Crests

Eastern birds of this species have crests in breeding plumage, but they are–for the most part–black. Each year when I visit San Diego we manage to find a killer bird or two in full breeding plumage with the white crests.

Can You Do It?

Can you judge critical sharpness from this JPEG? How about the exposure? I would love to hear your thoughts? As presented, it looks pretty good to me.

How Sharp is Sharp Enough???

If you are into making huge prints, say 60 inches wide by 40 inches tall, critical sharpness and impeccable fine feather detail are critically important. For many other usages, it is not…

The Pen Test for Sharpness…

Back in the day when it was possible to actually sell a few images, I often spoke about the “Pen Test” for sharpness. If the guy buying the image signed the check, it was sharp enough.


san-diego-card-neesie

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects. With annual visits spanning more than three decades I have lot of experience there….

2017 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) JAN 11 thru and including the morning session on JAN 15: 4 1/2 days: $1999.

(Limit: 10/openings 8)

Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Tuesday 1/10/17.

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heerman’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions; and Bird of Paradise flowers. And as you can see by studying the two IPT cards there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well.

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography. And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication.

Did I mention that there are wealth of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter?


san-diego-card-b

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. Or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 9/11//2016. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

July 28th, 2016

I Can't Do Much Better Than This...

What’s Up?

I got lots of work done on Tuesday when this blog post was prepared; I am getting ready to spend ten weeks in South America this fall. If any new folks would like details on joining the last Cheesemans’ South Georgia expedition (October 20-November 7, 2016) and become part of the BA group please shoot me an e-mail as that great trip is getting really close. Not only are there several openings but they are offering some really substantial late registration discounts. Ah, I just learned that this trip is now sold out with a waiting list…

Wind and weather are looking good for FRI and SAT mornings at Nickerson. If anyone is interested in cheap ($350/person) private or small group instruction (limit 3) please shoot me an e-mail. The session includes a working brunch and image review. More dates to follow. Inquiries welcome. Multiple IPT veteran Jake Levin is joining me for both sessions.


The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 260 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. AND Please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

Selling Your Used Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months, we have sold just about everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the yellow-orange tab on the right side of the menu bar above.

Used Gear Sales Continue to be More Than Brisk

  • Tom Mast sold his Canon 300mm f/4L IS USM lens in excellent condition for $625 in late July.
  • Henry Raymundo sold his Gitzo 1325 tripod and a Wimberley V-2 head both in very good plus condition for the very low price of $699 and two used Canon 100-400mm IS L Zoom lenses, one in excellent condition for $599, the other in very good plus condition for $549–all in late July.
  • Jonathan Ward sold his Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for $2,000 CAD in early July.
  • Long ago multiple IPT veteran Charles McRae sold his Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS lens in good to very good condition in early July for a record low $4,199.
  • Jeffrey Fredberg sold his EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM L series lens in like-new condition for the record-low BAA price of $749 in late June.
  • Jim Burns sold his Canon 200-400mm F/4L IS zoom lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in brand new condition for the insane BAA record-low price of $8499 in late June.
  • Moody McCall sold his Canon 300mm F/2.8L IS II in excellent condition for $4199 in mid-June.
  • Long-ago IPT veteran Charles Sleicher sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens in very good plus condition for $3400 in mid-June.
  • Top BAA Used Gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III in absolute mint condition for $1599 in mid-June.
  • KW McCulloch sold his Canon EOS-1D X in excellent condition for $2459 in mid-June.
  • Top BAA Used Gear seller Jim Keener sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (the old five) in very good plus condition for a BAA record low price of $3699 in mid-June.

New Listing

Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM Lens

Ron Ozuna is offering a Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens in near-mint condition for $2975. The sale includes the original lens front lens cover, the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the original Canon product box, and insured Ground Shipping via FedEx Ground to US addresses only. This lens was recently cleaned and checked at the Canon Service Center in Costa Mesa, CA. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ron via e-mail or by phone at 1-626-799-7616 (Pacific time).

The older version of the Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS is a super sharp lens that is great for hand held flight and action photography and great with both teleconverters. It has long been the favorite focal length of the world’s best hawk photographers. artie


american-oystercatcher-just-fed-large-chick-_t0a2305-nickerson-beach-li-ny

This image was created on the first morning of the of the recently concluded Nickerson Beach IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the mega mega-pixel Canon EOS 5DS R.. ISO 500. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop as originally framed: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6. Daylight WB.

A single AF point that was two to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/ExpandRear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure; see the DPP 4 screen capture below. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +5.

American Oystercatcher chick dining on sand crab just presented by the adult

I Can’t Do Much Better Than This…

Everything pretty much came together perfectly and resulted in the creation of today’s featured image. All are invited to leave a comment and note the strengths (at least five) and weaknesses (if any) of the image. You can check out the minimal beach clean-up and the small crop by comparing the optimized image above with the original in the DPP 4 Screen Capture below.


amoystdpp4scrncapt

DPP 4 Screen Capture

The DPP 4 Screen Capture

With the cursor on the brightest WHITEs the RBG values were and are 246, 235, 197 the image is a bit on the warm side. As the image was created at 6:04am, I like the warm tones and would not want to change the color balance.

Note that there appears to be very little data in the right-most box of the histogram. #1: Would you have increased the exposure at all by moving the Brightness slider to the right? Why or why not?

The illuminated red AF point notes that AF was active at the moment of exposure. #2:As things turned out, could I have selected a better AF point? Why or why not?

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂

July 27th, 2016

Sea Of Colors--What Are You Willing to Do for a Great Image?

What’s Up?

Had a great visit with Dr. Dan Holland at True Sports care in Nesconset on Tuesday afternoon. The guy is a magician. My shoulder is feeling 500% better and I plan on getting back in the pool on Wednesday.

Wind and weather are looking good for FRI and SAT mornings at Nickerson. If anyone is interested in cheap ($350) private or small group instruction (limit 3) please shoot me an e-mail. The session includes a working brunch and image review. More dates to follow. Inquiries welcome.


The Streak

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 259 days in a row with a new educational blog post. And I still have dozens of new topics to cover; there should be no end in sight until my big South America trip next fall. As always-–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–-please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. AND Please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would appreciate your business.

BirdPhotographer’s.Net

While everyone knows that you can see some fine bird photography in the Avian Forum on BPN, many are not aware that their are lots of other great critique forums for nature photographers. Those include Landscapes, Cityscapes and Travel, Wildlife, Macro and Flora, Out of the Box, and Eager to Learn (among others).

There is no way around it: having your images critiqued and critiquing the work of others is the best way to improve as a nature photographer.


sea-of-colors_1000px

This image was created at Costa Vicentina, Porto Covo, Portugal by BPN member Luis Patacão. He used a tripod-mounted Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM Autofocus Zoom Lens For Nikon Cameras and the Nikon D7000 (now replaced by the Nikon D7100. A 2-stop soft-edge neutral density filter was used to help achieve a slow shutter speed.

Sea of Colors. Image courtesy of and copyright 2016 Luis Patacão

What Are You Willing to Do for a Great Image?

I first saw today’s featured image a few weeks ago in the Landscapes, Cityscapes and Travel Critique forum on BirdPhotographer’s.Net (BPN; it ain’t just birds!)

In his BPN post here, Luis wrote:

A image in one of my favorite coastal peaces of Portugal (Costa Vicentina, Porto Covo). Here I was almost completely in the water playing with the shutter and motion of the sea.

To me the most important word is playing. Digital has given all of us the ability to experiment, often with slow shutter speeds, the ability to play. To play with light, to play with motion, to play with color, and to play with photography. That is the single thing that I love most about digital.

After reading the thread here and leaving a comment, I asked a few questions and learned that Luis took his camera gear into the waves with his tripod and positioned it so that his camera was just inches from the surface of the water.

I was curious as to whether Luis owned a more expensive camera and took his backup D7000 into the ocean to reduce risk. But as it turns out, his D7000 is the only camera that he owns. Thus, he was risking pretty much everything to create today’s image.

From Luis via e-mail: I own a budget setup.

What’s the Big Lesson?

You do not need a $6,000+ camera body and the best lenses to create truly memorable images. Desire, heart, brains, skill, determination, and imagination and creative vision always trump (sorry about that, but I am apolitical…) the most expensive gear.

Related Questions

What’s the craziest thing that you have ever done with your expensive camera gear?

What are your thoughts on Luis’s image?

Thanks!

Big time thanks to Luis for allowing me to share his image with y’all here. And for his BPN membership support. I am proud to say that the BPN community includes extremely talented photographers from every corner of the globe.


guide-to-pleasing-blurs

Learn the secrets of creating contest winning images in our “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs.”

A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

In A Guide to Pleasing Blurs the authors discuss just about every technique ever used by mankind to create pleasingly blurred images. Ninety-nine point nine percent of pleasing blurs are not happy accidents. You can learn pretty much everything that there is to know about creating them in this instructive, well written, easy to follow guide.


palouse-card-2017layers

Palouse 2016 Horizontals Card

Why Different?

Announcing the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour

In what ways will the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour be different from the most other Palouse workshops?

There are so many great locations that a seven-day IPT (as opposed to the typical three- or five-day workshops) will give the group time to visit (and revisit) many of the best spots while allowing you to maximize your air travel dollars. In addition, it will allow us to enjoy a slightly more relaxed pace.

You will be assured of being in the right location for the given weather and sky conditions.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills.

You will learn to design powerful, graphic images.

You will visit all of the iconic locations and a few spectacular ones that are much less frequently visited.

You will learn long lens landscape techniques.

You will learn to master any exposure situation in one minute or less.

You will learn the fine points of Canon in-camera (5D Mark III, 5DS R, and 7D II) HDR techniques.

You will be able to share a variety of my exotic Canon lenses including the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens and the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens, aka the “circle lens.”

You will learn to use your longest focal lengths to create rolling field and Urbex abstracts.

You will learn when and how to use a variety of neutral density filters to create pleasing blurs of the Palouse’s gorgeous rolling farmlands.

As always, you will learn to see like a pro. You will learn what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time. You will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images.

You will learn to use super-wide lenses both for big skies and building interiors.

You will learn when, why, and how to use infrared capture; if you do not own an infrared body, you will get to borrow mine.

You will learn to use both backlight and side-light to create powerful and dramatic landscape images.

This trip will run with one participant.


palouse-2017-card-layers

Palouse 2016 Verticals Card

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour
June 8-14, 2017. Seven full days of photography. Meet and greet at 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 7: $2,499

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will enjoy spectacular sunrises and at least one nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. I will bring you to more than a few really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join me for this trip. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

Over the past three years, with the help of a friend, we found all the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and vistas. What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, my extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions. As above, there will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before the workshop begins.

To Sign Up

Your non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold your spot. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining this IPT. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours to arrange for the payment of your deposit; if by check, please make out to “BIRDS AS ART” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail: artie.

Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options. You can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above we, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack!

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right 🙂