Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
August 13th, 2020

Making the most of a miracle ... ISO 10000 in the dark!

What’s Up?

Yesterday morning’s photo session got off to a very exciting start; see the whole story below.

I spent a good part of Wednesday setting up my new MacBook Pro. I got some amazing help from Apple Care and am quite close to being ready to rock and roll on the new machine. When I am good to go, I will send the old MacBook Pro in to have the problematic at best “butterfly” keyboard replaced. Once it is repaired it will make a great back-up.

The forecast for today — Thursday 13 AUGUST 2020 — is for mostly sunny turning early to mostly cloudy with afternoon thunderstorms. I will be headed out to photograph at about 7:00am.

I did get to see Part I of Alan Murphy’s Bird Photography Tips Webinar on Tuesday past. Alan’s clever tips will help all bird photographers especially those who are working at feeders and set-ups. See the info on Part II (tonight) below. If you are busy you can register and view the program online for a full week.

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

Bird Photography Tips Part II Webinar with Alan Murphy

To register for Alan’s August 18th webinar, click here or on the image above. Alan’s abililty to create surreally perfect set-ups and attract birds into photographic range is remarkable … I will be there and am looking forward to it with anticipation as I am in the process of turning my living room into a bird photography blind!

Those who register are requested to enter “BAA Blog” in the How did you hear about this webinar? box.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Past Sales list at the bottom of the page.

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save $50. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.

106 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Past Sales list at the bottom of the page.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase of more than $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on Wednesday 12 August 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. Simply resting my rig on the passenger side window frame, I used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 10000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/320 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Somewhat miraculously, the exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. ABW at 7:15am with clouds on the eastern horizon.

Tracking Flexible Spot (M) Continuous AF was active at the moment of exposure and performed to perfection.

Click the image to see a larger version.

Bobcat

A Miraculous Morning!

I was heading south on Orange Avenue at about 25 mph to look for some wildflowers. Some clouds in the east covered the early sun. About halfway to the end of the road, a Bobcat bolted across the road at full speed about 100 yards in front of my SUV. I slowed considerably as I got to the spot where it ran into the woods — hoping against hope. I glanced to my right as I stopped and was stunned to see the handsome cat sitting in a tiny clearing looking right at me. What were my chances? Slim and none. Or less!

But the right side front window was already down. And the big lens with the 1.4X TC and an a9 ii was resting against the passenger seat. I never even thought about setting up the tripod for many reasons; my only chance would be to lean to my right, rest the big lens on the passenger side window frame, and pray a bit. As I turned the camera on, I instinctively rolled the Control Wheel dial many clicks clockwise with my right thumb to raise the ISO, not knowing or caring where it stopped. The cat just sat there and stared at me. The total time elapsed had been less than 15 seconds.

With the image in the finder miles under-exposed, I noted the shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. I rotated the top-back wheel, again with my right thumb, to lower the shutter speed until I saw some Zebras on the cat. It stopped at 1/320 second as I noted that the ISO was 10,000. I focused on the face, re-composed left a bit to move the cat off center, and fired off 8 frames. Then the cat turned and disappeared. From the moment that I stopped until the Bobcat exited stage left could not have been more than 30 seconds.

One of the things I love most about nature photography and about bird photography in particular, is that you often have so many decisions to make in so little time. When you make them all quickly and correctly, the results can be tremendously satisfying. I was quite proud of myself as I almost always screw up under pressure. But knowing my gear and all of the camera settings and dials intimately allowed me to react quickly and almost instinctively.

ISO 10000 and RawDigger

As I mentioned here very recently, since using RawDigger and learning to mega expose-to-the-right (m-ETTR), I have not needed to run post-conversion noise reduction on a single image. And that was the case with today’s featured Bobcat image. Do understand that the larger the file size, the greater the noise with a properly exposed RAW file made at a given ISO. Knowing that I would be shooting in dark conditions I was glad that the a9 ii had been mounted on the 600 GM instead of the a7r iv.

Patrick Sparkman will be reviewing the RawDigger e-Guide next week and it should be available for purchase soon afterwards.

Folks often ask, “What is the highest ISO you will use?” My answer is always the same: if I need to make a sharp image, I will not hesitate to set an ISO high enough to get me the shutter speed that I need (along with a good exposure). Though I was somewhat rushed for time with the Bobcat, I figured that 1/320 second (at ISO 10000) would be fast enough to make a sharp image even at 840mm with the rig resting on the window frame …

If In Doubt …

If you are in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.







Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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 regularly visit 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.

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 :).

August 11th, 2020

Canon 180mm Macro Lens with Metabones Adapter Killing It! Macro Tips and Techniques. Thanks to naturalist John Bradford. And More on RawDigger

What’s Up?

I have been alternating between birds and flowers on my morning photo sessions. On Monday I began with a nice adult Crested Caracara hanging around the base of the pier and then did some of the Mother’s Day crane family — two adults and the large, surviving colt. I am loving swimming in my now-cool pool so much that on Sunday I did a full mile (88 lengths). I am blessed in many ways.

The weather for today — Tuesday 11 AUGUST 2020 — is for hot and sunny yielding to hot and cloudy with scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. In other words, par for the course. I will be heading out with all of my SONY gear at about 7am.

If you have a moment, please leave a comment and let us know which of today’s featured images you like best and why.

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Past Sales list at the bottom of the page.

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save $50. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.

106 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Past Sales list at the bottom of the page.

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase of more than $1000.00, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



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… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

This image was created on the morning of 7 AUGUST 2020 near the waterlily spot at Alba and Orange. I used the Induro GIT 404L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens with the Metabones Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter (Fifth Generation) and the 61MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body ISO 800. Multi metering +2 stops: 1/15 sec. at f/16 in Av mode. This exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger from a series of bracketed images. AWB at 8:45am on a still, mostly cloudy morning.

Manual focus using the combination of Manual Focus Toggle and Focus Magnifier tips from the SONY e-guide along with the 2-second timer. The flower was picked from a roadside that is mowed regularly and then Plamped. In fact, the day after I spotted a nice patch of these flowers, I returned only to find that they had all been dead-headed by the big mowing machine … I returned a week later and was glad to have the chance to photograph them.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1: Pitted Stripeseed (Piriqueta cistoides subsp. caroliniana)

Av Mode for Macro

Once I got the Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens and the Metabones Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter (Fifth Generation) I was able to see the aperture in the EXIF and in addition, Zebras worked (both as opposed to what happens with the Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens for Sony E where Zebras do not work and where the aperture is not recorded in the EXIF.

Now, when photographing a long series of flowers with different exposures, it only made sense to begin working in Av mode instead of Manual so that I would be able to note the Exposure Compensation (EC) after the fact. When editing a series of flower images in Capture One (C-1) I first pick the best exposures using RawDigger and then check for sharpness and image design back in C-1. Then, when I review the keepers in Photo Mechanic, I can note the ECs and see which one wound up being best. I note the lighting conditions (sun or shade), the tonality and size in the frame of the subject, and the tonality of the background. The more of that you do the more proficient you will become at nailing the exposures.

I should have mentioned before that since I began using RawDigger and have learned to mega-expose to the right (m-ETTR), I have not needed to run post-conversion noise reduction on a single image (regardless of the ISO!)

Thanks John Bradford!

Whatever I have done in my life, I have always used the same strategy to improve: find someone who knows what they are talking about and keep asking questions until they tell me to take a hike.

Thanks to John Bradford — my new best friend, for confirming the identification of this new-to-me wildflower. I met John on Facebook and messaged him asking that he e-mail me. He has been very generous with his time while helping me to improve my flower and plant identification skills. When we spoke on the phone, John began by asking if I was the Arthur Morris, the bird photographer. Talk about friends for life 🙂

John is an avid naturalist, amateur taxonomist, field trip leader, educator, and photographer. He co-writes an incredibly educational blog entitled Treasure Coast Natives with George Rogers and Dee Staley. When it comes to natural history and plants, these folks know a lot about a lot. The posts are varied and interesting; when I try to figure out how they figured out what they figured out, my brain hurts.

John was born in Nashville, TN in 1941. Adopted, he grew up in Arlington, VA. He credits his adoptive father for instilling in him the values that shaped his life. He likes to say that he flunked out of two very snazzy colleges, Johns Hopkins and George Washington. (Heck, I flunked out of Brooklyn Polytechnic.)

John worked in carpentry and construction, fabricated race cars in the Cayman Islands, and was technical writer for the space program. When John was younger, he did lots of scuba diving. John and his mentor, George Rogers, a brilliant biologist and horticultural taxonomist, collaborated on several books including Guide to the Native Plants of Florida’s Treasure Coast.

John fits well into ordinary folks, extraordinary lives category. And so far, he has not told me to take a hike!

This image was created on the morning of 9 AUGUST 2020 in the southeast corner of Indian Lake Estates. Again, I used the Induro GIT 404L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Canon EF 180mm f/3.5L Macro USM lens with the Metabones Canon EF/EF-S Lens to Sony E Mount T Smart Adapter (Fifth Generation) and the 61MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body ISO 1600. Multi metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/30 sec. at f/16 in Av mode. This exposure was confirmed as perfect in RawDigger … See more on the exposure below. AWB at 8:34am on a still sunny morning.

Manual focus using the combination of Manual Focus Toggle and Focus Magnifier tips from the SONY e-guide along with the 2-second timer. The stalk with what turned out to be a very cooperative spider on it was again picked from a roadside that is mowed regularly and then Plamped. By positioning the Plamp so that the clamp jaws were perpendicular to the ground, I was able to rotate the Plamp (and thus the stalk) when the spider moved to the opposite side of the stalk.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Green Lynx Spider

The Spider Exposure

Shooting a long series of images of the spider with eight or ten different exposures would not make sense with a living subject that might change position at any moment. Having been working extensively with RawDigger, I knew that I needed to see some Zebras on the bright joints of the spider’s legs and on the background as well; that required +1.7 or +2 stops of EC. Both of those exposures worked out quite well. Live and learn with RawDigger. I am pretty sure that at least nine out of ten folks would have underexposed this one …

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #3: An unsharpened 100% crop of Image #2: Green Lynx Spider

The Unsharpened 100% Crop

The incredible sharpness and detail here are the result of the combination of a7r iv image quality, perfect technique, and a bit of luck — the latter in the form of the absolutely totally still conditions as a slight breeze came and went … This was the sharpest image of a fairly short series.

If In Doubt …

If you are in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.







Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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 regularly visit 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.

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 :).

August 9th, 2020

My #1 Sunny Day Bird Photography Tip ... Get my drift?

What’s Up?

After my morning photo session I watched lots of golf, swam, did my bursts and Stairmaster, and ate too much sweet stuff. The afternoon temperature on the pool deck was 104 F. The pool is now a delightful 80 degrees.

The forecast for this morning — Sunday 9 AUGUST 2020 — is for gorgeous, still, and sunny. Since it did not rain at all yesterday, I will head back down to the lake. I did find a third large colt with the adults yesterday; I was not sure where it came from …

I completed the first draft of the RawDigger e-Guide and sent a few copies out to be reviewed. When I get back from shooting this morning, I will be creating an ILE 2020 JULY folder, doing a third edit, and watching the rest of the PGA Championship. I am rooting for Brooks Koepka but Dustin Johnson will be hard to beat if he plays as well as he did yesterday. The public course, Harding Park in San Francisco is — as it should be — very difficult.

This image was created on the morning of 8 AUGUST 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. Walking with the cranes on the North Field, I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 500. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode; the exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. AWB at 7:25:39am on a sunny morning.

Upper Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed superbly; the system selected an AF point on the base of the bird’s chin right on the same plane as its eye.

Image #1: Sandhill Crane adult looking back over shoulder

The Situation

There have been about a dozen cranes preening and feeding in the North Field each morning. Recently, I have spent lots of time photographing them from my vehicle with the Levered Clamp FlexShooter Pro/Induro/GIT 204-mounted SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens with the a7r iv and either teleconverter. On Saturday, on a whim, I grabbed the 200-600 with an a9 ii, took a walk, and had lots of fun.

This image was also and obviously created on the morning of 8 AUGUST 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. Walking with the cranes on the North Field, I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 284mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 500. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/640 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode; the exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger. AWB at 7:26:41am on a sunny morning.

Upper Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed superbly.

Image #2: Point your shadow at the bird …

My #1 Sunny Day Bird Photography Tip … Get my drift?

Hope so. But for the occasional strongly backlit image, ninety-nine point nine percent of bird photographs taken ten or more degrees off sun angle on a sunny day are insta-deletes. If you think that you have a good image in that .1%, shoot me a 1200 pixel on-the-long-side jpeg via e-mail for a free critique.

Image Critiques

Have your best images critiqued over the phone with Arthur Morris: Ten images for $100. Online digital galleries are best. 1400 pixel on-the-long-side sharpened JPEGs are best. Please call 863-221-2372 to pay via credit card or send a PayPal to birdsasart@verizon.net and include your e-mail address and the words Image Critique. Copy me via e-mail. You can shoot me a link to your photos or send them attached in a single e-mail.

You will get an honest but gentle, no-holds-barred critique during our phone consultation. If I think it’s great, I will say so and tell you why …