Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
September 24th, 2022

I Kid You Not!

Homer IPT Multiple Trip Discounts Increased

Save $1,500.00 by doing back-to-back trips. Save $2500 by doing all three trips. Please e-mail for couples discount info.

Change Your Life

Consider changing your life and becoming a much better bird photographer by joining me on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). DeSoto, San Diego, Homer, and the yet-to-be announced July 2024 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime all offer the opportunity for you to improve your skills both in the field and at the computer and to make some astounding images as well. Click here and see which IPT might be best for you.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

2023 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPTs

IPT #1: MON 20 FEB 2023 through the full day on FRI 24 FEB 2023. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 3.

IPT #2: SAT 25 FEB 2023 through the full day on THURS 2 MAR 2023. Six full days/24 hours on the boat: $6600.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 3.

IPT #3: FRI 3 MAR 2023 through the full day on TUES 7 MAR 2023. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers. Openings: 3.

Save $1,500.00 by doing back-to-back trips. Save $2500 by doing all three trips.

These trips feature non-stop flight photography as well as many opportunities to create both environmental and point-blank portraits of one of North America’s most sought-after avian subjects: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Other reliable subjects will include Sea Otter, Glaucous-winged and Short-billed (formerly Mew) Gulls.

In addition, we should see Common Murre, Black Guillemot, Pelagic Cormorant, two or three species of loons, and a smattering of ducks including two species of merganser, all three scoters, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, Harlequin, and Long-tailed Ducks. Close-range photographic chances for these species will require a ton of good luck. Some of these species, especially when in flocks, can, however, often be used effectively when creating bird-scapes.

If we need to be out early, we will be the first boat out. If conditions are great, we will stay out. And when there is a chance for sunset silhouettes, we will stay out and be in the right spot.

We will be traveling through gorgeous wilderness country; landscape and scenic opportunities abound.

Also featured is a professional leader, often referred to as the world’s most knowledgeable bird photography trip leader, who is conversant in Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

All images from Kachemak Bay in 2022!

What You Will Learn

You will learn practical and creative solutions to everyday photographic problems. You will learn to see the shot, to create dynamic images by fine-tuning your compositions, to best utilize your camera’s AF system, and how to analyze the wind, the sky conditions, and the direction and quality of the light. This is one of the very few trips Homer trips available where you will not be simply put on the birds and told to have fun. You will learn to be a better photographer. But only if that is what you want.

You will learn to get the right exposure when it is sunny, when it cloudy-bright, when it is cloudy, when it is cloudy-dark, or when it is foggy. Not to mention getting the right exposure when creating silhouettes.

You will learn to make pleasing blurs working in manual mode and to create silhouettes working in Shutter Priority mode.

Most importantly you will learn to pick your best flight images from tens of thousands of images.

You will enjoy working with the two best and most creative boat captains on their sturdy, photography-spacious, seaworthy, open-deck crafts.

The second and third IPTs are the only Bald Eagle workshops that feature an incredibly helpful first mate.

Only five photographers (not the usual six), plus the leader.

Small group Photoshop, Image Review, and Image Critiquing sessions.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

What’s Included

One four hour or two two-hour boat trips every day (weather permitting), all boat fees and boat-related expenses (excluding tips), ground transportation to and from the dock and back to the hotel each day, in-the-field instruction and guidance, pre-trip gear advice, small group post-processing and image review sessions, and a thank you dinner for all well-behaved participants.

What’s Not Included

Your airfare to and from Homer, AK (via Anchorage), the cost of your room at Land’s End Resort, all personal items, all meals and beverages, and tips for the boat captain and/or the first mate.

Please Note

On great days, the group may wish to photograph for more than four hours. If the total time on the boat exceeds 20 hours for the five-day trips, or 24 hours for the second trip, the group will share the additional expense at a rate of $225/hour.

Some folks may wish to rent their own vehicle to take advantage of local photographic opportunities around Homer.

Deposit Information

A $3000 non-refundable deposit/trip is required. You may pay your deposit with credit card or by personal check (made out to BIRDS AS ART) and sent via US mail only to Arthur Morris. PO Box 7245. Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Your balance, due 90 days before the date of departure, is payable only by check as above.

In Closing

I have been going to Homer off and on for close to two decades. Every trip has been nothing short of fantastic. Many folks go in mid-March. The earlier you go, the better the chances for snow. The only way to assure that you are on the best of the three trips is to sign up for all of them. Can you keep up with me? If you have any questions, or are good to go for one, two, or all three trips, please let me know via e-mail or give me a call on my cell phone at 863-221-2372.

What’s Up?

I walked/rope flowed 2.2 miles on Wednesday morning, and then spent 45 minutes at the Vulture Trees. I upped my two swims to 44-lengths each (totaling one mile). The more I hang from the chinning bar, the stronger the right shoulder becomes. For the past few days, the heavy rains have been tapering off. The bad news? Tropical storm Ian is headed this way.

Before you read the EXIF for today’s two featured images, click on each of them and try to figure out the focal length that was used to create them. Note: the focal length was the same for each. I kid you not.

Today is Saturday 24 September 2022. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took more than 90 minutes to prepare makes one hundred eighty-three days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Brand-New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex Air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard-to-get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a 1, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are — out of ignorance — using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

I Kid You Not!

This image was created on 25 February 2020 on an Instructional Photo-Tour at Kachemak Bay, Homer, AK. I used the hand held Sony 70-200mm GM lens (now replaced by the greatly improved Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 280mm) and the Sony a9 II (now replaced by The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital camera body.) The exposure was determined via Zebras. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. ISO 800: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 (stopped down 1/3-stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 10:21:30am on a cloudy morning.

Expand Spot S AF/C performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Bald Eagle — with blood on forehead and chin

The Most Valuable Lens on a Homer IPT

If I were limited to bringing only one lens on a Homer IPT, it would be a 70-200. As noted here previously, the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens is vastly superior to the original version. Its performance with either TC is stunning: AF is lightning fast and accurate, and the images are razor-sharp.

The focal length ranges of the 70-200mm lenses are deadly on Bald Eagles in flight (with or without either TC), great for scenics and bird-scapes, and lethal at close range (because of their short Minimum Focusing Distances (MFDs) especially with either TC (accept as noted with Canon, below)

The situation is much the same with Nikon mirrorless. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens accepts both the Nikon Z Teleconverter TC-1.4x and the Nikon Z Teleconverter TC-2x and functions perfectly.

As noted here previously, the 70-200 situation with Canon mirrorless gear borders on insanity. The Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS USM lens does not accept either the Canon Extender RF 1.4x or the Canon Extender RF 2x. This pretty much destroys the versatility of a hugely popular mid-range telephoto zoom. Canon folks have several options.

1- Go with one of the EF versions of the 70-200mm f/2.8 or with the (slower) EF 100-400mm IS II with a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R.

2- Go with the much slower (f/7.1 at 500mm) Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 L IS USM lens.

Whichever system you use, you will learn a ton on a Homer IPT and head home with a boatload of great images.

This image was created on 26 February 2020 on an Instructional Photo-Tour at Kachemak Bay, Homer, AK. I used the hand held Sony 70-200mm GM lens (now replaced by the greatly improved Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 280mm) and the Sony a7R IV (now replaced by The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital camera body.) The exposure was determined via Zebras. When evaluated in RawDigger, the raw file brightness was determined to be perfect. With all the dark feathers, however, adding another 1/3-stop to get to dead-solid perfect would have been ideal. ISO 800: 1/125 sec. at f11 (stopped down four stops) in Manual mode. AWB at 3:11:04pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Expand Spot S AF/C performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Bald Eagle — close-up of talons and feet

Questions

1- Why f/11?

2- Which of today’s two featured images is your favorite? Why?

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

September 23rd, 2022

Another Free YouTube Raw Conversion Video -- Snowy Egret. And Follow-up Color Correction Work after the Fact


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All the images on this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tours

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #1

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 27 September through the morning session on Friday 30 September 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings five.

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #2

3 1/2 Days: 7 October through the morning session on Monday 10 October 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings five.

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #3

3 1/2 Days: Monday 31 October through the morning session on Thursday 3 November 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings: 5.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. And we will get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On this IPT, all will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button. Everyone will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly, you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever and whenever you photograph.

There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

These IPTs will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB information. If you register soon and would like to share an AirBnB with me, shoot me an e-mail. Other possibilities including taking a cab to and from the airport to our AirBnB and riding with me. This saves you both gas and the cost of a rental car.

A $600 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check two months before the trip. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six folks, so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand, or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously, folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving. The length of cloudy morning sessions will often be extended. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Spoonbills at DeSoto

Over the past years, Roseate Spoonbills have become regular visitors to Fort DeSoto Park. I know when and where to find them and can teach you to approach them successfully. Do consider joining me on one of the DeSoto IPTs.

What’s Up?

I skipped my walks on Tuesday morning to head into town for an 8:30am appointment. Before leaving, I spent 15 uneventful minutes at the Vulture Trees. I did complete both of my 40-length swims (totaling nine-tenths of a mile).

Today is Friday 23 September 2022. I headed down to the lake early for a walk/rope flow walk and some vulture photography. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours to prepare makes one hundred eighty-two days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

You can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks who, like me, spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Brand-New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex Air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard-to-get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a 1, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers whom I see in the field and on BPN, are — out of ignorance — using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads. And the same is true in spades when ordering new camera bodies or lenses. My advice will often save you some serious money and may help you avoid making a seriously bad choice. Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

Low Light Snowy Egret Raw Conversion from Soup to Nuts With Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Another Free YouTube Raw Conversion Video

This 13-minute video takes you through the complete optimization of a very sweet Snowy Egret image. It begins with the raw conversion: adjusting the Color Temperature and the Exposure and setting the White and Black Points. Also covered Color Temperature and Color Mixer adjustments. In Photoshop, we cover the level and crop, Topaz DeNoise, some image clean-up and Gaussian Blur work. Last I create a JPEG for the blog.

This image was created on 22 September 2021 on a Fort Desoto IPT. While seated on the damp sand, I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1600. Exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1250sec. at f/4 (wide open). AWB at 7:34:03am on a sunny but hazy morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the larger version.

Image #1: Snowy Egret in Lagoon — the final video version.

An Important Step in all Image Optimizations

When optimizing an image, it is always best to compare the original image to the final optimized version to see how you did. I do that, of course, in Photo Mechanic, the world’s best image browser. When I did that at the end of the video, I realized that the color was off. The image looked a bit too MAGENTA, and when I revisited the color in Photoshop on Friday morning (the morning after if you would), I realized that there was also a BLUE color cast. Scroll down to see the improved version and learn how I made the changes.

This image was created on 22 September 2021 on a Fort Desoto IPT. While seated on the damp sand, I used the hand held Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 1600. Exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1250sec. at f/4 (wide open). AWB at 7:34:03am on a sunny but hazy morning.

Tracking: Zone/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the larger version.

Image #2: Snowy Egret in Lagoon — the color corrected after-the-fact version.

Correcting the Color After the Fact

After opening the image in Photoshop, I opened a Hue/Saturation layer, selected MAGENTA from the dropdown menu, and moved the slider all the way to the right to increase the MAGENTA saturation. That showed that there was indeed a MAGENTA color cast. To eliminate that cast, I moved the slider all the way to the left. At that point I realized that the image was too BLUE. So I opened the Camera Raw filter and went to the Color Mixer tab. There, I reduced the BLUE Saturation by 15 points and increased the BLUE Luminance by five points. That resulted in Image #2, the color corrected after-the-fact version.

Your Call

A- I like Image #1, the video version best because __________.

B- I like Image #2, the color corrected after-the-fact version best because __________.

C=- they look the same to me.

Click on the image to better see the green eye-AF boxes in action.

Sony Alpha 1 Flight Photography AF Points!

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up Guide and Info Group: $150.00 (or Free)

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up Guide and Info Group is going great guns as more and more folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based answers. As the a1 is becoming more readily available, more and more folks are getting their hands on this amazing body. By June 1, 2022, the group was up to an astounding 129 lucky and blessed folks. (More than a few folks own two or more a1 bodies!) Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. The best news is that everyone in the group receives an e-mail that includes a .DAT file with my a1 settings on it, and explicit directions on how to load my settings onto your a1; talk about convenience! I am now offering a .DAT file compatible with firmware update 1.20. Your entry into the group includes a consolidated Sony a1 CAMSETA2 INFO & GUIDE. New a1 folks will now receive six e-mails instead of the previous 28! You will receive new e-mails as they are published. Simply put, this e-mail guide is an incredible resource for anyone with an a1.

All who purchase their Alpha 1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link — B&H or Bedfords — will receive a free Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up Guide and free entry into the Info & Updates group after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.). Others can purchase their guide here in the BAA Online Store.

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

September 22nd, 2022

A Clever Solution to a Snowy In-the-Field Problem. New Used Gear: a Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS II lens and a super-zoom bridge camera, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV

Change Your Life

Consider changing your life and becoming a much better bird photographer by joining me on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT). DeSoto, San Diego, Homer, and the yet-to-be announced July 2024 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime all offer the opportunity for you to improve your skills both in the field and at the computer and to make some astounding images as well. Click here and see which IPT might be best for you.

I was glad to learn yesterday that newbie Nancy Fischer took advantage of the late registration discount offer and will be joining DeSoto #1 and that many multiple IPT veteran Jim Dolgin will be joining the second DeSoto IPT for two days.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

2023 Homer/Kachemak Bay Bald Eagle IPTs

IPT #1: MON 20 FEB 2023 through the full day on FRI 24 FEB 2023. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 3.

IPT #2: SAT 25 FEB 2023 through the full day on THURS 2 MAR 2023. Six full days/24 hours on the boat: $6600.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 3.

IPT #3: FRI 3 MAR 2023 through the full day on TUES 7 MAR 2023. Five full days/20 hours on the boat: $5500.00. Limit 5 photographers. Openings: 3.

Save $1,000.00 by doing back-to-back trips.

These trips feature non-stop flight photography as well as many opportunities to create both environmental and point-blank portraits of one of North America’s most sought-after avian subjects: Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). Other reliable subjects will include Sea Otter, Glaucous-winged and Short-billed (formerly Mew) Gulls.

In addition, we should see Common Murre, Black Guillemot, Pelagic Cormorant, two or three species of loons, and a smattering of ducks including two species of merganser, all three scoters, Common and Barrow’s Goldeneyes, Bufflehead, Harlequin, and Long-tailed Ducks. Close-range photographic chances for these species will require a ton of good luck. Some of these species, especially when in flocks, can, however, often be used effectively when creating bird-scapes.

If we need to be out early, we will be the first boat out. If conditions are great, we will stay out. And when there is a chance for sunset silhouettes, we will stay out and be in the right spot.

We will be traveling through gorgeous wilderness country; landscape and scenic opportunities abound.

Also featured is a professional leader, often referred to as the world’s most knowledgeable bird photography trip leader, who is conversant in Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

All images from Kachemak Bay in 2022!

What You Will Learn

You will learn practical and creative solutions to everyday photographic problems. You will learn to see the shot, to create dynamic images by fine-tuning your compositions, to best utilize your camera’s AF system, and how to analyze the wind, the sky conditions, and the direction and quality of the light. This is one of the very few trips Homer trips available where you will not be simply put on the birds and told to have fun. You will learn to be a better photographer. But only if that is what you want.

You will learn to get the right exposure when it is sunny, when it cloudy-bright, when it is cloudy, when it is cloudy-dark, or when it is foggy. Not to mention getting the right exposure when creating silhouettes.

You will learn to make pleasing blurs working in manual mode and to create silhouettes working in Shutter Priority mode.

Most importantly you will learn to pick your best flight images from tens of thousands of images.

You will enjoy working with the two best and most creative boat captains on their sturdy, photography-spacious, seaworthy, open-deck crafts.

The second and third IPTs are the only Bald Eagle workshops that feature an incredibly helpful first mate.

Only five photographers (not the usual six), plus the leader.

Small group Photoshop, Image Review, and Image Critiquing sessions.

All images from Homer or Kachemak Bay, AK

What’s Included

One four hour or two two-hour boat trips every day (weather permitting), all boat fees and boat-related expenses (excluding tips), ground transportation to and from the dock and back to the hotel each day, in-the-field instruction and guidance, pre-trip gear advice, small group post-processing and image review sessions, and a thank you dinner for all well-behaved participants.

What’s Not Included

Your airfare to and from Homer, AK (via Anchorage), the cost of your room at Land’s End Resort, all personal items, all meals and beverages, and tips for the boat captain and/or the first mate.

Please Note

On great days, the group may wish to photograph for more than four hours. If the total time on the boat exceeds 20 hours for the five-day trips, or 24 hours for the second trip, the group will share the additional expense at a rate of $225/hour.

Some folks may wish to rent their own vehicle to take advantage of local photographic opportunities around Homer.

Deposit Information

A $3000 non-refundable deposit/trip is required. You may pay your deposit with credit card or by personal check (made out to BIRDS AS ART) and sent via US mail only to Arthur Morris. PO Box 7245. Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Your balance, due 90 days before the date of departure, is payable only by check as above.

In Closing

I have been going to Homer off and on for close to two decades. Every trip has been nothing short of fantastic. Many folks go in mid-March. The earlier you go, the better the chances for snow. The only way to assure that you are on the best of the three trips is to sign up for all of them. Can you keep up with me? If you have any questions, or are good to go for one, two, or all three trips, please let me know via e-mail or give me a call on my cell phone at 863-221-2372.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission on items priced at $1,000 or more. With items less than $1000, there is a $50 flat-fee. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. If you are interested, please click here, read everything carefully, and do what it says. To avoid any misunderstandings, please read the whole thing very carefully. If you agree to the terms, please state so clearly via e-mail and include the template or templates, one for each item you wish to sell. Then we can work together to get your stuff priced and listed.

Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice only to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past years, we have sold many hundreds of items. Do know that prices for used gear only go in one direction. Down. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Canon EF 500mm f/4 L IS II USM Lens

BAA Record-low Price!

Amit Satiya is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens in excellent plus condition for a BIRDS AS ART record low $5898.00. The sale includes the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, lens trunk, the lens strap, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Amit via e-mail or by phone at 1-201-554-9820 (Eastern time zone).

Whenever I owned a Canon 500mm, I loved the 500 because it was smaller and lighter and thus easier to handhold, focused closer, and was much easier to travel with than the 600. Right now, a new one at B&H sells for $8999.00, and there is a used one in the same condition as Amit’s for a ridiculously high $7,198.95. Whichever on you compare it to, you will save a pocketful of cash by being the one to grab his lens. With a Canon Mount Adapter EF-EOS R $99.00), this lens performs perfectly with an EOS R, R5, R6, or R7! artie

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV 24-600mm Digital Camera (with extras)

Multiple IPT veteran Bill Schneider is offering a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV Digital Camera with extras for a very low $1049.00. The sale includes the original box, the front lens cover, two extra batteries — (a $54 value each), three in all, a dual battery charger (a $25 value), a Sony 64GB card, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Bill via e-mail.

I began bird photography with this great premium super-zoom bridge-camera. It was a great bang for my buck. I was able to get on those small, far away birds, and at the same time, it was a great macro lens. Not to mention everything in between! Anke Frohlich

This super-zoom bridge camera sells new for $1698.00. You can save a handsome $650.00 by grabbing Bill’s DSC-RX10 IV now. artie

Providing speed, reach, and versatile recording features, the Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 IV from Sony is a compact solution for the multimedia image-makers. Featuring an updated 20.1MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor, the RX10 IV is capable of up to 24 fps shooting at ISO 12800, as well as recording UHD 4K/30p or Full HD 1080/120p video. The sensor’s back-illuminated and stacked technologies afford a high degree of image quality with notable clarity and reduced noise to suit working in challenging lighting conditions. Complementing the shooting speed of the sensor and processor combination, this camera also offers a quickened 315-point focal plane phase-detection autofocus system for focus speeds as fast as 0.03 seconds.

Balancing the imaging capabilities, the RX10 IV is also characterized by its 25x ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T* zoom lens, which spans an impressive 24-600mm equivalent focal length range and uses Optical SteadyShot image stabilization to minimize the effects of camera shake by up to 4.5 stops. Its optical design incorporates eight extra-low dispersion elements and six aspherical elements to control a variety of aberrations throughout the zoom range, and its f/2.4-4 maximum aperture range benefits working in low-light conditions.

Rounding out the RX10 IV is its characteristic robust form factor, which includes both a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder along with a tilting 3.0″ 1.44m-dot touchscreen LCD. The intuitive design also features three dedicated control rings on the lens-a zoom ring, a manual focus ring, and an aperture ring-and the aperture ring can be de-clicked for smooth, silent aperture adjustments. The magnesium-alloy body is also weather-sealed to permit working in trying environments. Additionally, for sharing and control flexibility, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also available for wireless image sharing and remote camera control from a linked smartphone or tablet. Sony & B&H

What’s Up?

Wednesday began with a 2.9-mile walk/rope flow walk with a photography break after my 2-mile walk. Again, I worked the Vulture Trees. As my right shoulder continues to get stronger with two daily hanging-from-the-chinning-bar sessions, I have been increasing the length of my daily swims. Again, I did 40 lengths in the morning and 40 more in the afternoon (totaling nine-tenths of a mile).

Thanks to the many who commented on yesterday’s blog post. Jeff Walters suggested deepening the blue. I tried that, but it looked too phony to my brain. Adam suggested replacing the sky, but that it something that I have resisted doing as it seems too phony to me. The two versions that I created were artistic interpretations of the same raw file. Adding a third-party sky does not sit well with me. I am fine if you do it and if you like it. I only suggest that you always let folks know what you did.

Warren Howe summed things up best when he commented:

I think it is interesting just how many opinions there are on this topic. It just goes to show you, never worry what you think others will like. Make it the way YOU like it! BTW, I like the blue version …

BTW, I like the white sky version best. Why? I love the high key look and am always partial to white on white. As always, different strokes for different folks.

Today is Thursday 22 September 2022. I will be heading down to the lake early for a short photo session and then have to head into town for a bit. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post about two hours to prepare makes one hundred eighty-one days in a row with a new one.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

This image was created on 1 March 2022 on an Instructional Photo-Tour at Kachemak Bay, Homer, AK. I used the hand held Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 280mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras. ISO 2500: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 4:10:09pm during a snow squall.

Tracking: Spot S AF/C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection focused on the snow. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Out of focus adult Bald Eagle in flight during a brief but heavy snow squall.

Be Careful What You Pray For

For two weeks we had been wishing, hoping, and praying for snow. Late on our very last day, the snow came in spades, in the form of a heavy snow squall that hit out of nowhere. One moment there were a few light flurries, and the next moment the snow was so thick and heavy that we could barely see the eagles. Nor could the AF systems find the birds. They were blinded by the snow between us and the birds, so that is where they focused. The result were a few sharp snowflakes and an out-of-focus subject.

This image was created on 1 March 2022 on an Instructional Photo-Tour at Kachemak Bay, Homer, AK. I used the hand held Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 280mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras. ISO 2500: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 4:11:44pm during a snow squall.

Tracking: Spot S AF/C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly with a DMF assist. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #2: Adult Bald Eagle in flight in snow squall.

Problem Solving in the Field

What to do? The AF system could not get through the snow to “see” the subject. Sony GM telephoto lenses offer a Direct Manual Focus (DMF) switch. I recommend that it be set to ON all the time (except when working off a beanbag). When the AF system cannot “see” the subject, you can manually pre-focus even when the AF switch is set to AF, that is, when AF is active. This is a huge advantage for folks using Sony big glass. Aha! I’d zoom to 280mm with my left hand. Then I’d re-grip the lens so that my left hand was on the manual focusing ring. DMF allowed me to pre-focus on the eagles. Once the AF system could see the birds, it would acquire focus on the bird’s head or the eye and track accurately through the snow. The only disadvantage with this approach is that I was not able to zoom out.

As I say here often, I am proud that I am often able to come up with solutions to in-the-field photographic problems. Join me on an IPT to see my brain in action.

This image was created on 1 March 2022 on an Instructional Photo-Tour at Kachemak Bay, Homer, AK. I used the hand held Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 280mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras. ISO 2500: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 4:14:27pm during a snow squall.

Tracking: Spot S AF/C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #3: Adult Bald Eagle in flight in light snow.

The Very Brief Snow Squall

Within minutes, the ferocity of the snow squall diminished,, and the AF systems were able to “see” the subjects. With the much lighter snow, the rock wall background became visible.

Your Call?

Which of today’s three featured images do you like best? Why?

Typos

With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.