Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
April 30th, 2017

The Advantages of an Early Morning Blood Test Draw ...

What’s Up?

A visit to chiropractor TJ McKeon in town on Thursday afternoon had my shoulder feeling well enough for a swim on FRI. I’ve been getting down to the lake most mornings and will spend SAT and SUN packing for Finland. I did finish my micro-adjust session on Friday, learned a ton, worked on the tutorial, and made one very interesting discovery. I fly JFK > Helsinki mid-morning on Monday.


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major and minor 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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

pine-trees-in-fog-at-dawn-_P3A6592-Indian-Lake-Estates,-FL

This image was created 7 miles from my home on State Road 60 on the morning of April 18, 2017 with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 230mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/8 in Av mode. WB: 7900K.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

Center AF point/AI Servo/Spot/Rear Button AF on the stand of trees on the left; release and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial.

Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Pine trees at dawn on foggy morning

The Advantages of an Early Morning Blood Test Draw …

There are some really neat farm fields (aka cow pastures) on the way from my home in Indian Lake Estates to town, Lake Wales, FL (and back). And many of the fields are studded with attractive stands of pine trees. Oftentimes, there is some really neat ground fog but until ten days ago, these elements had never come together perfectly. I had blood drawn at 6:30am at the Quest Lab in town and headed home looking for a good spot. I found the location above just as the sun was peeking through the fog. I went to work at first with the tripod-mounted 100-400 II/1.4X III?5D IV combo. I like this one, the widest that I made, because the small tree on the right was just clear of the bushes …

Pine-Tree-at-dawn-on-foggy-da_P3A6641-Indian-Lake-Estates,-FL

This image was also created 7 miles from my home on State Road 60 on the morning of April 18, 2017, this one 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 my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/14 in Manual mode. WB: 6500K.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 5.

Center AF point/AI Servo/Surround/Rear Button AF on the trunk of the tree: release and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial.

Image #2: Pine tree at dawn on foggy morning

To The Big Lens …

As the sun got higher it got clear of the smaller tree on the right but I did not have enough focal length with the 1-4II so I crossed back over Highway 60 and grabbed the big gun with the TC still on the 5D IV. It was perfect once I move well to the west.

Your favorite? Which of today’s featured images is your favorite? Please let us know why?


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 learn to create this look in Photoshop from a single image while winding up with a higher quality image file.

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.

You will learn to create the very popular detailed, slightly grungy, slightly over-saturated look in Photoshop.


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. Limit 10/Openings: 7.

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 my friend Denise Ippolito, 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 please remember that I am 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, 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 :).

April 28th, 2017

Taking One for the Team: I Picked the Wrong Time to Take a Scouting Walk ...

What’s Up?

I spent most of Wednesday and Thursday micro-adjusting my Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS lens with Internal Teleconverter with both of my 5D Mark IV bodies in preparation for my upcoming Finland trip. (I fly on Monday arriving on Tuesday.) In addition, I continued work on the LensAlign/Focus Tune tutorial. Why so long? Zoom lenses need to be micro-adjusted at both the long (T for tight) and W (for wide) at both 200 and 400mm, and then again at 280 and 560mm, W and T, with the Internal 1.4X TC in place. And finally, W and T with an external 1.4X TC (both with the internal TC engaged and not engaged). In other words, it is a ton of work.

I am enjoying my continued participation in the Aftercare sessions that followed my attendance at The School for the Work. Byron Katie has been keeping the boys and girls very busy; they don’t call it the Work for nothing 🙂


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major and minor 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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Important Notice

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Monday July 3 through Wednesday July 12, 2017: $5999 + $1499: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 5). All who register will be required to join the (really cheap) two-day Gannet/Bass Rock Add-on. See below for details.

I will likely need to close registration for the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT/Bass Rock Add-on ($1499) on May 1 as I need to finalize the cottage reservations.

Great-Blue-Heron-with-sea-robin-CROP-AD3I1459Fort-deSoto

This is a healthy crop of an image created by DeSoto Spring IPT participant Anita North with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 390mm), and the blazingly fast and rugged Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR Camera Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop as originally framed: 1/250 sec. at f/8.

Young Great Blue Heron with Sea Robin
Image courtesy of and copyright 2017: Anita North

Taking One for the Team: I Picked the Wrong Time to Take a Scouting Walk …

Anita created this image on the last morning of the 2017 DeSoto Spring IPT. Two days prior to that we ran into a woman who told us of “nesting Royal Terns” around the corner of the inlet. So, on that Saturday morning I took my 100-400 II/1.4X II/5D IV combo and set out on a scouting walk. How’d that work out? No terns. And when I “re-terned,” many in the group were excited about the opportunity that they had just enjoyed. There was a couple fishing, catching mostly small Southern Whiting, a great eating fish. When they caught the Sea Robin that you see here today, they tossed it to a nearby Great Blue who grabbed the fish and posed with it for several minutes while standing in the shallow Gulf surf …

Sea Robin

When I was a kid in Brooklyn and later on when fishing as a young adult, I caught lots of Sea Robins. Though normally looked upon as trash fish they were not bad eating. My research also showed that there is a small but developing market for Sea Robin as a commercial fish, surely due to humankind’s ongoing destruction of fish stocks around the world. I had always thought that Sea Robins were in the sculpin family but a bit of research proved me wrong. From the Fishes of the Gulf of Maine website here

The large head, tapering body, and fanlike pectoral fins of the Sea Robin somewhat suggest a sculpin. But the robin is distinguished from all the sculpins by the incasement of its entire head in bony plates; by its smaller mouth; by the flat depressed dorsal profile of its snout; by its large ventral fins; and by the fact that the three lower rays of each of its pectoral fins are separate from the rest of the fin and modified into three independent feelers with slightly dilated tips, a very noticeable and distinctive feature.

From Wikipedia, here:

The Triglidae, commonly known as Sea Robins or Gurnards, are a family of bottom-feeding scorpaeniform fish. They get their name (Sea Robin) from the orange ventral surface of the species in the Western Atlantic (Prionotus carolinus) and from large pectoral fins, which, when swimming, open and close like a bird’s wings in flight. The large surface area of the fins also permits the fish to glide short distances above the water surface, much like a flying fish.

They are bottom-dwelling fish, living down to 200 m (660 ft), although they can be found in much shallower water. Most species are around 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 in) in length. They have an unusually solid skull, and many species also possess armored plates on their bodies. Another distinctive feature is the presence of a “drumming muscle” that makes sounds by beating against the swim bladder. When caught, they make a croaking noise similar to a frog, which has given them the onomatopoeic name gurnard.

Sea Robins have six spiny “legs”, three on each side. These legs are actually flexible spines that were once part of the pectoral fin. During development, the spines separate from the rest of the fin, developing into feeler-like “forelegs”. The pectoral fins have been thought to let the fish “walk” on the bottom, but are really used to explore the bottom in search of food. The first three rays of the pectoral fins are membrane-free and used for chemoreception being highly sensitive to amino acids prevalent in marine invertebrates.

Anything to add Dr. Fish?

Great-Blue-Heron-with-sea-robin-AD3I1459Fort-deSoto

This is a small crop of the original image with a bit ofcanvas added below and behind the bird. Anita used the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 390mm), and the blazingly fast and rugged Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR Camera Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop as originally framed: 1/250 sec. at f/8.

A single AF point one to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the base of the bird’s bill in front of and well below the eye.

Young Great Blue Heron with Sea Robin

Anita North and Sally Sue South …

I first met Anita North on a Southern Ocean cruise in 2014/15. Some may remember the story (Beginner with 0.0000014% Keeper Rate in the Southern Ocean; What Can BAA Do for You?) that was published in the blog post here along with some of her early images under the pseudonym Sally Sue South. Rather than being “Canada’s third ever female rocket scientist (now retired)” Anita was actually Canada’s third ever female brain surgeon (now retired). After attending many IPTs and traveling with me throughout South America for 10 1/2 weeks at the end of 2016, her skills have improved immensely. Though she still creates too many images in bad situations, her best images are outstanding. I’d say that in one of every three shooting sessions that her best image is better than my best image … I will be sharing some more of Anita’s images with y’all here in a future blog post.

ORIGanitaGBH

This is a small crop of the original image with a bit ofcanvas added below and behind the bird. Anita used the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 390mm), and the blazingly fast and rugged Canon EOS-1D X Mark II DSLR Camera Premium Kit with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1 stop as originally framed: 1/250 sec. at f/8.

A single AF point one to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the base of the bird’s bill in front of and well below the eye.

Young Great Blue Heron with Sea Robin

Today’s Featured Image

Today’s featured image is sharp and at +1 stop, the exposure –as you can see by the histogram — was perfect. Anita’s single misstep was not choosing the best possible AF point. She needed to pick an AF point that was two or three rows higher to avoid cutting off the virtual feet, the feet that we know are below the surface of the water. But heck, when I see a heron with a really neat prey item I just about have a cow. Thanks to Anita for permitting me to share this image with you here today. One final note: Anita will be continuing her photographic education on the upcoming Finland, UK Puffins & Gannets, Bear Boat, and Galapagos IPTs this spring and summer.


uk-puffins-card-ii-layers

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Monday July 3 through Wednesday July 12, 2017: $5999 + $1499: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 4).
All who register will be required to join the (really cheap) two-day Gannet/Bass Rock Add-on. See below for details. See below for details.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


uk-puffins-card-iii-layers

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12.

Great News on the UK Puffins and Gannets/Bass Rock Extension

On the morning of Jul 10, 2017, we will sleep late and head up to Dunbar Harbor for lunch and an afternoon Gannet boat chumming trip: flight photography until you cannot lift your camera. One gannet boat trip is included in the IPT but everyone always wants more.

Then, as a possible mega bonus — we are scheduled to make a Bass Rock landing on the morning of Tuesday July 12, 2017. I am hoping to go two for two! If not, we do another chumming trip for flying gannets.

Included will be two nights lodging at the wonderful Dunsmuir hotel, two fine dining meals there, any additional meals, all boat, guide, and landing fees, and all transportation including the early morning transfer to the Edinburg Airport on the morning of WED July 12.

So far all five sign-ups are maximizing their travel dollars by signing up for the extension in part because I priced it so cheaply at $1499 despite my greatly increased costs.


uk-puffins-card-i

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. 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. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. 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 of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful 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 please remember that I am 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, 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 :).

April 26th, 2017

Nine Hours to Prepare a Blog Post? It Must Be Good: Great New Used Gear Listings, Guess-ti-Zooming for Flight Photography, Your Opinion on the Image Optimization Requested, and a New Digital Eye Doctor Technique Shared

What’s Up?

The 2017 DeSoto IPT was fabulous with lots of birds and learning and all happy clients. The birds were a bit sparse at the start on the Sunday Morning DeSoto Meet-up but we wound up with two cooperative Great Blue Herons, some copulating Laughing Gulls, and tons of learning on the subjects of exposure, working in Manual mode, camera settings, and AF tips and techniques.

On Monday evening I took my daughter and her family along with friend/client Anita North and Jim Litzenberg, my right hand man to a nice Italian restaurant in Lake Wales (L’Incontro) to celebrate the fact that my home and all of the others in ILE were unscathed by the big fire. I ate too much. But it was very good.

I was glad to learn on Sunday that Christopher Loffredo has signed up for the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. There is likely less than a week left to pull the trigger on this great trip. See the details on that just below.

Just so you know, this blog post took about nine hours in all to prepare …


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major and minor 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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

Important Notice

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Monday July 3 through Wednesday July 12, 2017: $5999 + $1499: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 5). All who register will be required to join the (really cheap) two-day Gannet/Bass Rock Add-on. See below for details.

I will likely need to close registration for the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT/Bass Rock Add-on ($1499) on May 1 as I need to finalize the cottage reservations.

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. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Gerry Keshka

Hi Artie, I wanted to share how much I appreciate your Used Gear “service.” You have posted how you help sellers, but the other side of the equations is how much this service helps buyers. I have purchased three lenses (Canon 200-400, 500 f4 II, and 70-200 F2.8) all lovely experiences and I saved almost $5K over retail. Each of the sellers was delightful, willing to help me assess if the purchase was right for me by sharing their experience with the lens. Each lens was in the condition advertised (or better), and typically included several “add-ons” that would have cost several hundred dollars.

Unsolicited, via e-mail, from Sandra Calderbank

Hi Artie, I wanted to take a few minutes to thank you. I have sold two camera bodies on your BAA used gear site. Your friendly expertise and knowledgeable, trustworthy buyers have made this an extremely satisfying experience. Selling on BAA Used Gear page is the best transaction experience I have ever encountered. Thank you for all you do for our photography community. Sincerely, Sandra

Recent Successful Used Gear Sales
Big Ticket Items Selling Like Hotcakes on the Used Gear Page in April!

  • KW McCulloch sold his Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS lens with Internal 1.4X Extender in excellent plus condition for $8294 in mid-April.
  • Stan Hoyt sold his Canon 500mm f4L IS USM Super Telephoto lens in like-new condition (with extras) for the great low price of $3899 soon after it was listed in mid-April.
  • Leonard Malkin sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f2/.8 L IS lens excellent condition for $899 in mid-April, 2017.
  • Paul Abravaya sold his Canon 400mm f/4 IS DO II lens in excellent condition for $5,799 soon after it was re-listed in mid-April.
  • David R. Gibson sold a Canon 300mm f/4 L IS USM lens in excellent plus condition for $749 in March, 2017.
  • Good friend and multiple IPT veteran Indranil Sircar sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark III in near-mint condition along with the the Canon BG-11 battery grip for the great low price of $1,579 soon after it was listed in early April.
  • Colin Haase sold his Canon EF 600mm f/4 L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for a the BAA record-low price of $9,497 just minutes after I featured it in the blog under the heading “I Cannot Believe that this one has not sold yet …”
  • Steve Traudt helped a friend sell her Canon 500mm f4L IS USM lens in near-mint condition for $3899 in late March, a week after it was listed.
  • Mike Pace sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II in excellent plus condition locally and is sending me a check for 2 1/2% of the original price.
  • BAA friend John Armitage sold his Canon EOS 1D-X in excellent plus condition for $2348 the day it was listed.

New Listings

Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens
Sale Pending!

Larry Peavler is offering a Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens in near mint condition for the amazingly low price of $4199. Used once; would be mint but for a small paint chip on the bottom edge of the tripod ring. The sale includes the lens trunk with keys, the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Larry via e-mail by phone at 1-317-908-0729 (Eastern time.)

The 300 f/2.8 lenses have long been the first choice of the world’s best hawks in flight photographers and have become increasingly popular with bird photographers working either with crop factor cameras or those who live in areas with relatively tame birds. This lens, the latest version of Canon’s 300 f/2.8L IS, is incredibly sharp with either TC. It is easily hand holdable by most folks. You can add the 1.4X III or the 2X III teleconverter for even greater versatility. artie

Canon Extender EF 2X III

Larry Peavler is also offering a Canon Extender EF 2X III in like-new condition for $369. The sale includes the TC pouch, the front and rear caps, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via UPS to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Larry via e-mail by phone at 1-317-908-0729 (Eastern time.)

The 2X III TC is a valuable accessory for folks who can use it to make sharp images with f/2.8 or f/4 telephoto lenses. artie

Canon EF 100-400 zoom f/4.5 – 5.6 L IS Telephoto Zoom Lens

Larry Peavler is also offering a Canon EF 100-400 zoom f/4.5 – 5.6 L IS Telephoto Zoom lens, the old 1-4, in excellent condition with some small scratches on the lens hood for $549. The sale includes the original box, the front and rear lens caps, the canvas carrying case & strap,the instruction book, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Larry via e-mail by phone at 1-317-908-0729 (Eastern time.)

The old 100-400 was and is a superb lens. I made hundreds of sale-able images with mine including the one used on the front cover of Scott Weidensaul’s “Return to Wild America”. Contrary to reports by the internet idiots the lens is -– in competent hands -– sharp at all focal lengths and it is sharp wide open. It is extremely versatile and would make a great starter lens for those interested in bird, wildlife, and general nature photography. artie

Questar Field Model 3.4 Telescope with Extras

Larry Peavler is also offering a Questar field model 3.4 telescope in excellent condition for $,1200 a fraction of the original cost. The sale includes all the caps, the 24 mm [53-80x] eyepiece, and a 15X finder, the case with the key, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Larry via e-mail by phone at 1-317-908-0729 (Eastern time.)

Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM Zoom Lens

John Beasley is offering a Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS II USM Zoom lens in excellent condition for a BAA record-low price of $1498. The sale includes the rear lens cap, front lens cap, the zippered lens case & strap, the original product box, the manual and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail or by phone at 1-917-374-7527 (EST).

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS Lens with Internal 1.4 Extender with Extras!

John Stuhlmuller is offering a Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS Lens with Internal 1.4 Extender in mint condition with lots of extras for a very low $8149. The sale includes the front lens cover, the rear cap, the wide lens strap, the lens trunk with two keys, a Black TravelCoat, two LensCoats (Forest Green and Digital Camo), a LensCoat RainCoat 2 Pro Camera Cover in Digital Camo, an Aqua Tech Soft Front Lens cover, and insured ground shipping (signature required) via major courier. The lens was recently serviced by Canon.

Contact John via e-mail or by phone at 520-730-6611 (AZ but effectively Pacific time zone).

This is the world’s best lens for a trip to Africa. It kills also in the Galapagos and in South Georgia, the Falklands, and Antarctica. And I use mine a lot at Bosque and other dusty places where the built-in TC helps to keep your sensor clean. And I love it in the Palouse for its versatility. Many nature photographers use it as their workhorse telephoto lens as it offers 884mm at f/8 with an external 1.4X TC added. The lens sells new at B&H right now for $10,999. You can save a slew of dollars by grabbing John’s lens (and all the extras) right now. artie

Canon EOS 5DS R with Extras

John Stuhlmuller is also offering a Canon EOS 5DS R digital camera body in like-new condition with lots of extras for an amazingly low $2799. Lens than 13,000 shutter actuations. The sale includes one Canon BG-E11 Battery Grip with one extra Canon LP-E6N Lithium-Ion battery (2 in all), one LC-E6 battery charger, the front cap, the original Wide Strap EW-EOS5DSR, all the cables and CDs and everything that came in the box, a Kirk L bracket for camera body alone, a Really Right Stuff L bracket for the body with the battery grip, and insured ground shipping (signature required) via major courier. The body was recently serviced by Canon.

Contact John via e-mail or by phone at 520-730-6611 (AZ but effectively Pacific time zone).

The 5DS R is the premier dSLR for landscape photography and as Patrick Sparkman and I proved, it is a great body for bird, wildlife, and nature photographers who have good sharpness techniques, especially those who make large prints; it’s image quality is unmatched. artie

DeSoto-group-and-GBHs-Loius-Battaglia-photo

This image was created by Sunday Morning DeSoto Meet-up Participant Louis Battaglia using the Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 DI VC USD lens for Canon cameras (at 24mm) and the Canon EOS-5D Mark II (now replaced by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Image #1: Most of the Sunday DeSoto Meet-up group and the Great Blue Herons
Image courtesy of and copyright 2017: Louis Battaglia

The Situation

There were several young Great Blue Herons chasing each other around the beach on Sunday morning. When one of them landed on a sign, I saw a really good teaching situation; most in the group followed me. We talked about the fact that since the light had not changed the exposures we had set for the bird on the beach would still be perfect even though the analogue scale in the viewfinder would show more plus because the sky was lighter than the water in the Gulf. We talked about angle of inclination and about using longer focal lengths (with TCs) to eliminate the sign. When I saw a second GBH approaching I called it out to the group … Just as the second bird unseated the first bird, Louie made the neat image above. Note his great timing!

And note also which photographer has the sandiest butt … (It is very difficult for me to kneel so I sit instead.)

ORIG-GBH_W5A5365-Fort-DeSoto-Park,-Tierra,-Verde,-FL

This image was created at Fort DeSoto Park on Sunday morning in cloudy bright conditions with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 140mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at about +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

A single AF point two to the left and one row down from the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as framed above. That despite the fact that the active AF point was on the sky below the bird’s belly in front of the bird’s raised right foot. I have no clue as to why the AF point noted above was selected and no idea how the bird’s eye was rendered fairly sharp.

Image #2: This is the original image capture

Zoom-stimating or Guess-ti-Zooming

I have covered this concept here before without naming it. The are many times with flight photography where you need to zoom out by anticipating how large in the frame the subject might be as it enters “The Zone,” the spot where it will be flying toward you, be 1/3 frame or larger, and be fairly close to sun angle. It is possible that zooming as you are pressing the shutter button might screw up AF accuracy so I generally avoid doing that. Usually this technique involves zooming from 400mm out to 300mm or so or from 560mm (with the TC) to 400mm or so. I was close to the sign working at 560mm when I noted the flight path of the incoming heron and thought immediately that I would be lucky to fit the bird in the frame when it got to light angle so I zoomed out all the way immediately. To 140mm, the shortest focal length available.

Zoom-stimating or Guess-ti-Zooming?

Which term do you like better to describe zooming out in anticipation of the correct focal length for a bird in flight, zoom-stimating or guess-ti-zooming. Please leave a comment stating your preference.

My Lack of Flight Photography Skills …

Notice above that I failed miserably in panning fast enough to have the bird centered in the frame … I try to make up for decreasing strength, hand eye coordination, and fine motor skills with determination and knowledge. Oh, and a bit of luck.

When Unexpected Action Occurs Press the Shutter Button!

This is another concept that I have been attempting to hammer home for years, even into my own brain. It would have been great to have had time to go to ISO 800 and 1/1600 sec. at f/9. It would have been great to have set the center AF point. But I did not see the approaching bird until it was almost upon us so I raised the lens and fired off two frames. If I had tried to make any changes to my settings I would have wound up with zero flight images.

Note: I am pretty sure that the bird in today’s featured image is the second bird. My memory is telling me that the approaching bird did not land on the sign but continued on to chase the original GBH.

Great-Blue-Heron-flight-awkward-_W5A5365-Fort-DeSoto-Park,-Tierra,-Verde,-FL

This image was created a from the original image above that was created at Fort DeSoto Park on Sunday morning in cloudy bright conditions with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 140mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering at about +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

A single AF point two to the left and one row down from the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure as framed above. That despite the fact that the active AF point was on the sky below the bird’s belly in front of the bird’s raised right foot. I have no clue as to why the AF point noted above was selected and no idea how the bird’s eye was rendered fairly sharp.

Image #3: Great Blue Heron/Awkward Flight: the optimized image

The Optimized Image

After converting the RAW file in DPP 4 (see the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide) I brought the image into Photoshop and executed a relatively large crop. I carefully selected the bird using the Quick Selection Tool (QST) and feathered and saved the selection. Then I placed it on its own layer and applied my NIK 30/30 Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast recipe. That was fine-tuned just a bit with a Regular Layer Mask. Next I loaded and inverted the selection and placed the sky on its own layer. First I ran Nik Color Efex Pro’s White Neutralizer to juice up the blues and then I pulled down the Curve (Command M) to darken the sky. Next I selected only the darker parts of the bird’s face including the eye and applied a Contrast Mask (Unsharp Mask at 15/65/0) to that layer only. Last was some Eye Doctor work; see the animated GIF immediately below for the details on that. I finished by re-loading the selection, placing it on a copy of the background copy layer, and following the techniques detailed in The Professional Post Processing Guide for applying a small degree of NeatImage Noise Reduction to the bird and more noise reduction to the background.

Pretty much everything that I did with this image is detailed in my Digital Basics File, an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. It includes my complete (former PC) digital workflow, dozens of great Photoshop tips, details on using all of my image clean-up tools, the use of Contrast Masks, several different ways of expanding and filling in canvas, all of my time-saving Keyboard Shortcuts, the basics of using BreezeBrowser and Downloader Pro, Quick Masking, Layer Masking, and NIK Color Efex Pro, Digital Eye Doctor techniques, using Gaussian Blurs, Dodge and Burn, a variety of other ways of making selections, how to create time-saving actions, and tons more.

Learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. You can learn to apply Neat Image noise reduction in The Professional Photographers Guide to Post Processing.

I am currently working on an all new BAA Current Workflow e-guide that will better reflect my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow. It will include a section on ACR conversions and a simplified method of applying Neat Image noise reduction. Today’s image did not need any noise Reduction.

Your Opinion Needed

If you are on a quality, color corrected monitor, I would appreciate your honest opinion on the following before you take a look at the animated GIF below: in Image #3 immediately above, the optimized image, do you think that the bird looks over-done, that is, did I use too much Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast? Does the sky look overdone to you, too dark and/or too blue?

Image #4: Great Blue Heron/Awkward Flight whole bird animated GIF

Sharpness, Shutter Speed, and Image Quality Issues …

As you can see by looking at the before images in the two animated GIFs here, this is not the world’s sharpest image. There is a bit of motion blur with a resulting loss of sharpness along with the loss of some fine feather detail. And while the image is not contest winner, it is more than presentable for electronic and web uses. What caused the motion blur? As I was not panning smoothly enough the shutter speed of only 1/640 second was somewhat problematic. And having an incorrect AF point selected did not help either.

Why did I go through hoops to improve the image? I love the awkward pose and the position of the legs along with the perfect head angle and the just soft-enough light.

Please realize that the posterization in the two animated GIFs is introduced during the creation of the animated GIF files and is no way, no how present in the optimized image, #3 above.

Image #5: Great Blue Heron/Awkward Flight head and neck animated GIF

Advanced Eye Doctor Technique

The advanced technique that I used here is actually quite simple. First I used the Clone Stamp Tool with the Align Box un-checked and the hardness set to 50% to brighten the iris. Next I used the Clone Stamp Tool this time with the hardness set to 100% to create sharp edges to the pupil. Again the Align Box was unchecked so that the cursor did not follow as I cloned; in both cases I wanted to be sure to grab my source material from the same spot. Be sure to set the hardness of the Clone Stamp Tool back to 50% when you are done with the pupil.

Photoshop Sessions

Probably no IPT offers as many opportunities for image sharing and Photoshop session as the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Do not tarry if you would like to join me for this great trip.


uk-puffins-card-ii-layers

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Monday July 3 through Wednesday July 12, 2017: $5999 + $1499: Limit 10 photographers — Openings: 4).
All who register will be required to join the (really cheap) two-day Gannet/Bass Rock Add-on. See below for details. See below for details.

Here are the plans: take a red eye from the east coast of the US on July 2 and arrive in Edinburgh, Scotland on the morning of Monday July 3 no later than 10am (or simply meet us then at the Edinburgh Airport–EDI, or later in the day at our cottages if you are driving your own vehicle either from the UK or from somewhere in Europe). Stay 7 nights in one of three gorgeous modern country cottages.

There are five days of planned puffin/seabird trips and one morning of gannet photography, all weather permitting of course. In three years we have yet to miss an entire day because of weather… In addition, we will enjoy several sessions of photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level.


uk-puffins-card-iii-layers

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version.

The Details

We will get to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet; Arctic, Sandwich, and Common Terns, the former with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks. We will be staying in upscale country-side lodging that are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The shared rooms are decent-sized, each with a private bathroom. See the limited single supplement info below.

All breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. All 5 puffins boat lunches will need to be prepared by you in advance, taken with, and consumed at your leisure. I usually eat mine on the short boat trip from one island to the other. Also included is a restaurant lunch on the gannet boat day.

If you wish to fly home on the morning of Monday July 10 we will get you to the airport. Please, however, consider the following tentative plans: enjoy a second Gannet boat trip on the afternoon of Monday July 10 and book your hotel room in Dunbar. If all goes as planned, those who stay on for the two extra days will make a morning landing at Bass Rock, one of the world’s largest gannetries. We will get everyone to the airport on the morning of Wednesday July 12.

Great News on the UK Puffins and Gannets/Bass Rock Extension

On the morning of Jul 10, 2017, we will sleep late and head up to Dunbar Harbor for lunch and an afternoon Gannet boat chumming trip: flight photography until you cannot lift your camera. One gannet boat trip is included in the IPT but everyone always wants more.

Then, as a possible mega bonus — we are scheduled to make a Bass Rock landing on the morning of Tuesday July 12, 2017. I am hoping to go two for two! If not, we do another chumming trip for flying gannets.

Included will be two nights lodging at the wonderful Dunsmuir hotel, two fine dining meals there, any additional meals, all boat, guide, and landing fees, and all transportation including the early morning transfer to the Edinburg Airport on the morning of WED July 12.

So far all five sign-ups are maximizing their travel dollars by signing up for the extension in part because I priced it so cheaply at $1499 despite my greatly increased costs.


uk-puffins-card-i

Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Click on the card to enjoy a spectacular larger version. Scroll down to join us in the UK in 2016.

Deposit Info

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome–please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on March 29, 2017. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. 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. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Deposit Info

Single supplement rooms are available on a limited basis. To ensure yours, please register early. The single supplement fee is $1575. If you would like your own room, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement; your single supplement deposit check should be for $3,575. As we will need to commit to renting the extra space, single supplement deposits are non-refundable so please be sure that check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. 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. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. 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 of running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print careful 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 please remember that I am 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, 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 :).