Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
November 17th, 2018

Old Friend Richard Crossley. Walking Sticks ... Macro Techniques and Focusing Tips. Nikon 80-400 VR Versatility.

Stuff

Numbers have been down on my last two birding walk/drive-arounds but I’ve seen some great birds. On Thursday I had a fly-by drake Bufflehead, an ILE first for me and a rare bird away from the coasts. And last night driving back from my sunset walk there was a Great Horned Owl sitting on a neighbor’s antenna!

With seven folks now committed to San Diego, there is just one slot open. Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; there is cheap shared Airbnb lodging for a female or two available. Do consider joining us on that one or on another IPT — especially the Spoonbill Boat IPT — only two slots open — see below. You can see all the current offerings by clicking here. It was great to see that at least three folks have joined BPN recently after reading the blog post here.

Richard Crossley

On Thursday evening I was surprised and delighted by a call from old friend Richard Crossley; we go back at least 32 years. He and some other then-young Brits flew over each summer after their university years to wait tables in various Cape May, NJ restaurants. They — who included Richard and Julian Hough — would stay over for a night or two in the small apartment where Elaine and I lived in Howard Beach, Queens, NY (near Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge) before getting on a big jet and heading back to the UK. They would visit the East Pond at JBWR often and were glad to save some bucks by sleeping on our floor; but they always enjoyed my cooking!

Richard and wife Deb moved to Cape May at some point and Richard returned the favor often; Elaine and I spent many nights in our small motor home in the Crossley’s driveway in Cape May plugged in with a long extension cord that was placed through a slightly open window and ran into Richard’s living room! Richard was always a crack birder, able to identify flying specks from miles away.

Richard was a co-author of The Shorebird Guide (2006) along with Michael O’Brien and another old, good friend, Kevin T. Karlson — Kevin and I go back more than 34 years. Then Richard came up with a new concept for bird identification guides, the Crossley ID Guide series. The first, The Crossley ID Guide: Eastern Birds (2011), was hugely successful. You can check it out by clicking on the logo link above. Several others followed. Richard and I talked about old times for well more than an hour.

BIRDS AS ART

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



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. 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%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. 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.

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, 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 currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

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.

Walking-Stick-pair-copulating-_BUP3996Indian-Lake-Estates,-FL

This image was created on September 10, 2018 with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 400mm) with my back-up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering plus about one stop: 1/40 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode (was still underexposed). Auto1 WB at 5:20pm on a sunny afternoon in shade provided by my house.

Live View with Manual focus with d-o-f confirmed by Focus Peaking (with 2-second timer)

AF fine tune is not in play when using Live View even if you are using AF as focusing is done by contrast off the sensor.

Walkingsticks — pair mating

The Situation

I noticed this pair of copulating Walkingsticks on the pool enclosure when I went for a swim. When I got out of the pool they were still in the same spot. I found a nice stick to be used as a perch, set up my 80-400 on a tripod, and mounted a Wimberley Plamp onto an old tripod in a spot in the shade that would yield a pleasing green background. Then I coaxed the copulating insects onto my perch stick, stuck that into the Plamp, and went to work. After 30 minutes the Walking Sticks were released unharmed into the woods next to my pool.

The Lesson: Focusing for Macro

After several unsuccessful (i.e., unsharp) attempts, I tried focusing in Live View with the image magnified; looking at the eye focusing was a snap. Enabling Focus Peaking allowed me to actually see the depth of field as I tried various apertures. Wanting to stay at ISO 800 I successfully went to some very slow shutter speeds by using the 2-second timer (along with Live View which raised the mirror).

Nikon 80-400 VR Versatility

So far you have seen lots of super-sharp images created on the Emperor Penguin expedition with the 80-400. I will be sharing some 500 PF images with you here soon; some included the use of the TC-E14 III and the TC-E 17. But like the Canon 100-400 II, the 80-400 is amazingly versatile: birds, bird-scapes, people portraits, scenics, and as here, as a quasi-macro lens. Note: with its far superior minimum focusing distance the Canon 1-4 is the clear winner in the last category.

Not unexpectedly, the Nikon 80-400 VR is routinely trashed online by the internet experts. I am pretty sure that the 80-400 VR that I am using is actually a newer version, an 80-400 VR II, but I am not positive of that. If you know for sure if that lens was or was not ever updated, please leave a comment. In any case, the images that I created with the hand held 80-400 at Snow Hill were as sharp as any images I have ever made with a telephoto lens. Note that the AFA Fine-Tune value for my 80-400 with my back-up D850 is a substantial +5. Those considering switching systems can learn a lot in the BPN Photography Gear Forum post, Upgrade or Jump Ship here. This comment made by the original poster shows what I am talking about above, The 80-400 also looks like is a no-go in terms of Image Quality. Nothing could be further from the truth; you gotta love the internet experts …

If you own an 80-400 VR please leave a comment and let us know how you like yours.

Hooptie-card-2017-images

From left to to right clockwise back to the center: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill downstroke, Brown Pelican sunrise silhouette, Double-crested Cormorant pre-dawn blur, Roeseate Spoonbill flapping after bath, Brown Pelican taking flight, Roseate Spoonbill taking flight, Reddish Egret white morph breeding plumage in flight, and Reddish Egret dark morph breeding plumage in flight.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks on the February 2018 trip.

You can click on each card to enjoy a larger version.

2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — FEB 16 thru 19, 2019: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 2.

3 1/2 days on the boat including four morning photo sessions and three afternoon sessions via customized pontoon boat.

Price per day Reduced from the 2018 rates! Please e-mail for details on IPT veteran and couples’ discounts. Pro-rated options may be available …

We will be leaving the dock very early for the morning sessions (weather permitting) in hopes of photographing the pre-dawn American Crow and White Ibis blast-offs. All sessions are planned for the Alafia Banks Roseate Spoonbill Rookery. We might consider other options in the unlikely event of horrific weather. There will be lots of opportunities for flight photography of several species including and especially Roseate Spoonbill. Also likely for flight photography are nesting Brown Pelican, both morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White and Glossy Ibises, and Double Crested Cormorant. We should have some good chances with birds carrying nesting material. This IPT includes all boat and guide fees, in the field instruction, chest waders (feel free to bring your own of course to assure a perfect fit), and three working lunches on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. For the most part we will be standing in mid-calf to knee high water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with mobility or balance problems. Note however that some folks opt to stay on the boat to photograph. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

spoonbill-card

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks

The Timing and Tides are Perfect!

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumage spoonbills … The 2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT represents an incredible opportunity to photograph Florida’s most wanted species. I do hope that you can join us. There will be a meet and greet at 7:00pm sharp on the evening of Friday February 15, 2019. All of the images on the card were made on the Hooptie Duex during the last two weeks of February, prime time for the spoonies in mega-breeding plumage. Many folks have written expressing interest so please do not tarry.

Please e-mail to hold your spot. Then you may either secure your spot by calling Jim or Jennifer at the office at 863-692-0906 and leaving the $500 deposit on credit card or sending your check for payment in full to us as follows with the check made out to:

BIRDS AS ART and sent here via US mail:

BIRDS AS ART
PO BOX 7245
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

If you call to leave your deposit you will be asked to mail your check for the balance no later than December 15, 2018.


hooptie-card-shadle-aa

Images courtesy of our guide; copyright 2017 Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Everybody Loves Spoonbills!

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage…. with long telephoto lenses. A 500 or 600 with a 1.4X TC is perfect for this trip.

Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography often with the birds likely carrying nesting material), Double-crested Cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White) in breeding plumage. Some of the White Ibises may be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition we may get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips will most likely be back to Alafia Banks for the spoonbills with an option to visit a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an extensive image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes lunches on the full days with small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If 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 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 :).

November 15th, 2018

A Pretty Bad Original (showing some interesting behavior). Crow Lessons. And a Post-processing Question ...

Stuff

I had 34 species on Wednesday and 35 on Tuesday on my birding walk/drive-arounds. Highlights on Tuesday included a fly-by grey ghost — a male Northern Harrier, and a young Cooper’s Hawk. I had seen harriers at ILE but never a male. The Falklands trip is now full; whew! Blog regular Steve Rentmeesters fill the last slot yesterday. Oh what a trip it will be. I was glad to learn yesterday that the sales of several of Brooke Miller’s item are either complete or pending; details to follow when the smoke clears.

Six folks are committed to San Diego so there are just two openings left. Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; there is cheap shared Airbnb lodging for a female or two available. Do consider joining us on that one or on another IPT — especially the Spoonbill Boat IPT. You can see all the current offerings by clicking here. It was great to see that at least three folks joined BPN yesterday after reading the blog post here.

BIRDS AS ART

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



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. 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%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. 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.

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, 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 currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

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.

Fish-Crows-with-egg-PhMech-scrn-capt

This image was created at Alafia Banks on the morning of Friday, February 20, 2018 with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at about +1 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3. AUTO0 WB at 9:47am on a cloudy bright day.

Nikon Focus Peaking AF fine-tune was a very significant +15. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) Shutter Button AF as originally framed. The array covered the second (from our left) crow.

Photo Mechanic screen capture of the original

The Pretty Bad Original

Though the histogram was pretty much perfect with lots of room on the left side where the dark tones reside, note that the crows were pretty much rendered as silhouettes in the RAW (NEF) file. So what was pretty bad? The whole scene was a sloppy mess; the image was severely tilted; and I would have liked to have been a lot closer. But sometimes when we photograph very interesting behavior we simply need to do our best with the post-processing and strive to create the best possible image. That is what I did here.

A Lesson

A zillion years ago I was standing near the surf on a sunny afternoon trying for some flight images on a Long Island beach with my old toy lens in my hands, the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM in my hands. It was so long I cannot remember whether I was using film or digital capture. Anywho (as my late Dad used to say often), I see a crow flying right at me from west to east. I was confused as it looked as if it were holding a ping pong ball in its bill. Who wants a photo of a crow with a ping pong ball in its beak? I thought. As the bird got closer and closer, I noted that the alleged ping ping ball was actually buff-colored, not white, and that it had lots of blackish smudges on it. The ping pong ball was a Common Tern egg. In those days when you could still sell nature stock, that would have been a somewhat valuable photograph. But he who hesitates is lost; I never even raised my camera.

Rule

If you see something interesting happen, push the shutter button. You can always delete it if it turns out to be a ping pong ball. 🙂 This rule goes double for crows with eggs!

Fish-Crows-predating-spoonbill-egg-_DSC4786--Alafia-Banks,-Tampa-Bay,-FL

This image was created at Alafia Banks on the morning of Friday, February 20, 2018 with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at about +1 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/6.3. AUTO0 WB at 9:47am on a cloudy bright day.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune was a very significant +15. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) Shutter Button AF as originally framed. The array covered the second (from our left) crow.

Fish Crows eating wading bird egg

The Post-Processing

I selected today’s featured image out of a series of eight as I like the raised foot of the crow eating the egg while his friends waited nearby. During the RAW conversion in Camera Raw I opened up the BLACKs by moving the Shadow Slider to the right (be careful not to over-do this slider) and darkened the too-WHITE (somewhat dirty, muddy) sand by moving the Highlight slider to the left. Once I brought the image into Photoshop I leveled it using the Ruler Tool and executed a bit of a pano crop. I did a bit of beach clean-up by eliminating the most egregious distracting elements using as always the Spot Healing Brush, the Patch Tool, and Content Aware Fill. (Note that i rarely use the Clone Stamp Tool except to Divide and Conquer …) Most importantly I selected the four crows with the Quick Selection Tool and applied a layer of my NIK Color EFEX Pro 40/40 Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast recipe to further open up the BLACKs. Compare the BLACKs of the crows plumage in the NEF file with those in the optimized file.

In Retrospect

I lightened the background mangroves. In retrospect, I am wondering if darkening them might have been a better choice. What do you think?

DBII-cover

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

Your guessed it, everything mentioned above and tons more — including all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — is covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Do note that you will find the RGB Curves Adjustment Color Balancing tutorial only in the new e-guide. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

The two most recent and many of the older MP4 Photoshop Tutorial videos releases go hand and hand with the information in DB II):

  • The Wingtip Repairs MP4 Video here.
  • The MP4 Crow Cleanup Video here.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here.

Though I have become more proficient converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw, I continue to optimize my old Canon images in DPP 4. You can learn how and why I converted (and still convert) nearly all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. And, yes, I still have many Canon images to work on. 🙂 The RAW conversions for all three of today’s featured images was straightforward once I entered my camera/ISO specific recipes (as detailed in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide). You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

Hooptie-card-2017-images

From left to to right clockwise back to the center: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill downstroke, Brown Pelican sunrise silhouette, Double-crested Cormorant pre-dawn blur, Roeseate Spoonbill flapping after bath, Brown Pelican taking flight, Roseate Spoonbill taking flight, Reddish Egret white morph breeding plumage in flight, and Reddish Egret dark morph breeding plumage in flight.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks on the February 2018 trip.

You can click on each card to enjoy a larger version.

2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — FEB 16 thru 19, 2019: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 3.

3 1/2 days on the boat including four morning photo sessions and three afternoon sessions via customized pontoon boat.

Price per day Reduced from the 2018 rates! Please e-mail for details on IPT veteran and couples’ discounts. Pro-rated options may be available …

We will be leaving the dock very early for the morning sessions (weather permitting) in hopes of photographing the pre-dawn American Crow and White Ibis blast-offs. All sessions are planned for the Alafia Banks Roseate Spoonbill Rookery. We might consider other options in the unlikely event of horrific weather. There will be lots of opportunities for flight photography of several species including and especially Roseate Spoonbill. Also likely for flight photography are nesting Brown Pelican, both morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White and Glossy Ibises, and Double Crested Cormorant. We should have some good chances with birds carrying nesting material. This IPT includes all boat and guide fees, in the field instruction, chest waders (feel free to bring your own of course to assure a perfect fit), and three working lunches on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. For the most part we will be standing in mid-calf to knee high water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with mobility or balance problems. Note however that some folks opt to stay on the boat to photograph. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

spoonbill-card

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks

The Timing and Tides are Perfect!

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumage spoonbills … The 2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT represents an incredible opportunity to photograph Florida’s most wanted species. I do hope that you can join us. There will be a meet and greet at 7:00pm sharp on the evening of Friday February 15, 2019. All of the images on the card were made on the Hooptie Duex during the last two weeks of February, prime time for the spoonies in mega-breeding plumage. Many folks have written expressing interest so please do not tarry.

Please e-mail to hold your spot. Then you may either secure your spot by calling Jim or Jennifer at the office at 863-692-0906 and leaving the $500 deposit on credit card or sending your check for payment in full to us as follows with the check made out to:

BIRDS AS ART and sent here via US mail:

BIRDS AS ART
PO BOX 7245
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

If you call to leave your deposit you will be asked to mail your check for the balance no later than December 15, 2018.


hooptie-card-shadle-aa

Images courtesy of our guide; copyright 2017 Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Everybody Loves Spoonbills!

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage…. with long telephoto lenses. A 500 or 600 with a 1.4X TC is perfect for this trip.

Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography often with the birds likely carrying nesting material), Double-crested Cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White) in breeding plumage. Some of the White Ibises may be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition we may get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips will most likely be back to Alafia Banks for the spoonbills with an option to visit a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an extensive image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes lunches on the full days with small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If 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 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 :).

November 13th, 2018

Background Strategies. And a Killer Emperor Penguin Double-overhead Wingstretch!

Stuff

I had 32 species on my bird walk/drive-around on Monday morning. I checked for the Purple Gallinule in the same spot as yesterday. It responded to audio; the Least Bittern did not.

Be sure to click on the Emperor Penguin wingstretch image below to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Six folks are committed to San Diego so there are just two openings left. Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; there is cheap shared Airbnb lodging for one or two folks (male or female) available. Do consider joining us on that one or on another IPT — especially the Spoonbill Boat IPT. You can see all the current offerings by clicking here. It was great to see that at least three folks joined BPN yesterday after reading the blog post here.

BIRDS AS ART

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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. 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%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. 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/4L IS II USM Lens/with Extras!

Brooke Miller is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM in excellent plus condition for $7398.00. The sale includes: the rear lens cap, the original tough front lens cover, the original lens feet (both tripod and monopod feet), the lens strap, the lens trunk, the owner’s manual, the original product box, a Canon 52mm Drop-in Circular Polarizing Filter PL-C 52WII like-new condition, a LensCoat Raincoat Pro in Realtree AP Snow, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your funds clear unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Brooke via e-mail.

The 500 f/4 super telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds,nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Canon’s Series II version is light, fast, super-sharp, and produces amazing images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. The 500 II is relatively small, easily hand holdable for some folks, and is much easier travel with, focuses closer than, and costs a lot less than the 600 II. Lastly, and you might find this amazing, the magnification for the 500 II is the same as it is for the 600 II: .15X. How is that possible? Magnification is calculated at the minimum focusing distance of the lens — 12.14 feet (3.7 meters) for the 500 II and 14.77 feet (4.5 meters) for the 600 II. Simply put, the 500 II focuses more than two feet closer than the 600 II. The seller for the last one that sold here had five calls the first day; the first four folks quibbled on price. The fifth one jumped right on it … Please do not tarry if you are seriously interested in Brooke’s lens as it should sell almost instantly. Or not 🙂 As the 500 II goes for $8999 new you will be getting an excellent plus lens while saving $1701.00. I loved my 500 II 🙂 artie

Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II Lens

Brooke Miller is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM in excellent condition for $1,449.00. The sale includes: the rear lens cap, the front lens cap, the lens hood, the lens strap, the lens case, the owner’s manual, the original product box, a LensCoat Lens Cover in digital camo, 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 Brooke via e-mail.

Y’all know how much I loved and now miss this amazingly sharp and versatile lens. artie

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L L IS Lens (with tripod ring!)

Brooke Miller is also offering a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens in near-mint condition for $599.00. The sale includes the Canon tripod mount ring D(B) (a $172.00 value), the rear lens cap, the front lens cap, the lens hood, the lens case, the owner’s manual, the original product box, 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 via e-mail.

I loved this lens for flowers both on a tripod and hand held. I used it often on a tripod with a 12mm tube in front of the 1.4X III TC; manual focusing is mandatory and easy with combination. artie

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Brooke Miller is also offering a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Body in excellent condition for $2,249.00. The sale includes the body cap, one original battery, the LC-E6 battery charger, the eyecup Eg, the wide strap, the cable protector, the interface cable IFC-150U II, the owner’s manual, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only.

Please contact Brooke via e-mail.

Two 5D IV bodies served as my workhorse dSLRs right up until I switched to Nikon. I used them almost to the exclusion of my 1DX II, often on f/4 super-telephotos with either the 1.4X or the 2X III TCs (see those below). artie

Canon Series III EF Extenders (Teleconverters)

Brooke Miller is also offering a Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and a Canon Extender EF 2X III, both in near-mint condition for $299.00 each. Buy one or both. Each sale includes the rear lens cap, the front lens cap, the lens pouch, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only.
Your item will not ship until your funds clear unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Brooke via e-mail.

Regular readers know that I used and depended on both my three 1.4X III TCs and my two 2X III TC pretty much every day that I was out photographing; traveling with back-up was mandatory. artie

Money Saving Reminder

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, 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 currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

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.

Emperor-Penguin-stretching-_BUP6511--Snow-Hill-Island,-Antarctica

This image was created on Day 2 — October 25, 2018 — of the recently concluded Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island expedition via icebreaker. While lying flat on the snow and ice, I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 175mm) with my back-up Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering plus about 2 stops off the snow: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Auto 1 WB at 10:13am on a cloudy-bright morning.

One AF point down and three to the right of the center AF point/Single/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was just above and to the left of the penguin’s eye.

I kept my 80-400 rig on my shoulder via an RS-7 Curve Breathe Strap so that it was instantly accessible when I was working with the tripod-mounted 500 PF.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +5. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Emperor Penguin/adult stretching

Background Strategies

When I am at the beach or working a pond and there are birds feeding along the shoreline, I will most always look for the cleanest section of beach, sit down behind my tripod right on sun angle, and wait for the birds to come to the cleanest background. On the first morning of the Emperor Penguin expedition, the ropes were set 30 meters from the various colonies. While there were lots of birds in each colony with lots of young, my style of photography was difficult to impossible for several reasons:

1- The birds were close together with several adults and chicks often occupying the same square meter. Isolating a single bird or even an adult with its own chick was extremely difficult.

2- Colonies are inherently messy places with bird poop, regurgitant, and avian footprints everywhere.

3- The warm temperatures that we encountered turned the snow at the colonies into very unattractive slush.

am-&-Shrik-&-penguin-photographers-_(787)-Werner-Mayer--Drake-Passage,-Southern-Ocean

Photographers and adult Emperor Penguin on clean snow
Image courtesy of and copyright 2018: Werner Mayer

Being Away From the Colony Paid Dividends

For me, the solution to the problems listed above was to work well past the edges of the colonies and look for or wait for single birds on the relatively pristine snow and ice. As you can see in the image above — that’s me in the front — that is exactly what I and several others did in the situation that resulted in today’s featured image.

I am pretty sure that the bird in Werner’s image is the bird in today’s featured image. Note that everyone but me had their parkas unzipped to avoid overheating. Mine was lying on my gear bag a few hundred meters away. At one point I got flat on the ground but most of the time I sat and took advantage of the pure white frozen snow. Thanks to shipmate Werner for sharing the image.

The Lesson

If you have a choice between clean backgrounds and dirty, ugly, cluttered backgrounds always opt for the former. 🙂 That said, many folks could not withstand the allure of all the birds in the colony. But their images suffered to some degree.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If 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 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 :).