Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
July 15th, 2019

Nikon d-9 AF. Depth of Field Lesson and DOF Concerns with Bouquets of Sand Eels ...

What’s Up?

I’ve been doing lots of catching up and very little photography. My jet lag seems to be abating as I slept from 8:30pm on Saturday night until 4:30am the next morning with just one pit stop. I’ve enjoyed being back in the pool every day.

This blog post took more than two hours to prepare. I hope that you enjoy it. If you have any questions or comments on depth of field please leave a comment.

This Just In!

Jet lag returned with a vengeance; I went to bed at 8:00pm on Sunday night, slept five solid hours, and woke at 2:00am. I tried to read myself back to sleep, did eventually after two hours, and got back to sleep for two more houurs …



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 the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. 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.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page

New Listing

Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED Telephoto Lens

BAA Record-low Price

Will Randall is offering a Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED telephoto lens in like-new condition for a BAA record-low price of $1499.00. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the front lens cover, the carrying bag, all packing material, the original Nikon box, and insured ground shipping via a major courier to a US address only.

Please contact Will Randall via e-mail or by phone at 863 446-2617 (Eastern time zone).

The original Nikon 200-400 VR is an extremely versatile lens that is ideal for all types of nature photography. There is a used copy of this lens in only very good condition on B&H selling for $2,399.95; Will’s lens is a great buy! artie

bedford-logo-w-code

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 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.

Atltantic-Puffin-with-sand-eels-_BUP4619-Seahlouses-UK-1

This image was created on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped-up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering at zero: 1/500 sec. at f/14 was right-on. NATURAL AUTO WB at 11:16am on a cloudy morning.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Dynamic 9-points (d-9)/Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. See the screen capture below for the location of the selected AF point.

Atlantic Puffin with mouthful of sand eels

Bouquets of Sand Eels …

Before the start of every UK Puffins and Gannets IPT, I tell the group that if they want images of puffins with mouthfuls of fish, there is one spot that is so good that they could sit there for the entire trip and do quite well. That spot paid off for us several times in 2019. The best news is that you can get very close to the birds with a low, careful approach; I made lots of head portraits of puffins this year with and without baitfish with focal lengths from 400 to 560mm. For today’s featured image, I was at the back of the pack so I added the TC to the 500 P and went to work. Working at 700mm allowed me to work over and between the folks sitting down in the front.

D850 Image Quality

I have been and continue to love the quality of D850 images. Sharp photos can stand up to substantial crops. Today’s featured image was created from a horizontal original.

AF-pts-Puffin-sand-eel-Scrn-Capt

Nikon Capture NX-D Screen Capture

Nikon d-9 AF

The outer d-9 AF points have been simulated in the screen capture above to show what you see through the viewfinder. Capture NX-D shows only the selected point — the little square. It does not show the supporting or surrounding points. I enhanced the little square for visibility and added the outer points in Photoshop. I have shied away from using Group for static subjects as I find d-9 more accurate overall. I still use Group (grp) for all of my Nikon flight photography.

When adding the TC-E14 to the 500 PF, you will find that AF performance is sluggish at best when you select a point other than the center point. The farther from the center you go, the worse the situation becomes. Huge advantage to both Canon and SONY in this area.

Depth of Field Lesson

For 3 1/2 decades, I have — in most situations — been making sharp images that make me happy working either wide open or close to it. For the past five years I have — in general — been stopping down 1/3 stop from wide open. That means working at f/6.3 with an f/5.6 lens and at f/4.5 with an f/4 lens. And when working with an f/5.6 lens and a 1.4X TC, I work at f/9 rather than wide open at f/8.

Why? My primary reason is that doing so eliminates vignetting nearly all of the time. Theoretically, the images should be a bit sharper when stopped down 1/3 stop but modern lenses are so sharp that I doubt that most folks could tell the difference. I focus on the eye, shoot close to wide open, and do not concern myself with. depth of field. Unless I am very close to a subject and working at or close to the minimum focusing distance of the lens. In those situations, it is imperative to stop down one to two stops from wide open. Why? Depth of field increases exponentially as the distance to the subject increases.

For example, if you are working a subject at 840mm (a 600 f/4 lens plus a 1.4X teleconverter) at a distance of 14 feet at f/6.3, the depth of field in front of the subject is .01 feet, or 0.12 inches, just a fraction of a single inch. In simplest terms, not much. With the same combination, while photographing a relatively large bird at a distance of 60 feet, the depth of field in front of the subject increases to 0.31 feet or 3.71 inches. This is usually more than enough to cover the subject. Increasing the aperture two stops doubles the d-of to 0.62 feet or 7.42 inches. This is not much of an increase considering that you will need to be working at an ISO two stops higher than the one you started with.

Now consider a bird in flight at 100 feet with the same combo. The d-o-f in front of the subject increases to a comparatively astronomical 1.75 feet! There is no need to stop down at all as the total d-o-f will be 3.53 feet.

Remember that it is important to stop down only when working at or close to the minimum focusing distance of your lens.

dof-puffin

Depth of Field Master Screen Capture

Depth of Field Concerns with Bouquets of Sand Eels …

With today’s featured image I was working a subject with some extra depth (due to the jumble of sand eels) and I was working close to the minimum focusing distance of the 500 PF. So I knew that I needed to stop down in order to cover the sand eels, that is, to render the bird’s eye and the sand eels in relatively sharp focus. All that while maintaining a decent shutter speed when working at 700mm. I went with f/14 rather than my usual f/9. I was happy with the results. Now here is a very fine point: notice in the Capture NX-D focus point screen capture that I opted to focus a bit in front of the plane of the bird’s eye. This allowed the d-o-f behind the point of focus to cover the bird’s face and eye, while the d-o-f in front of the point of focus did a pretty good job of covering the puffin’s bill and the baitfish.

Bosque-2019-big-card

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPTs

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

2019 Bosque del Apache IPTs

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 7. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Return to Bosque IPT #2. NOV 29 (afternoon session thru DEC 4 (morning session) — 5 DAYS (4 full and two half): $2249.00. Limit: 10/Openings: 9. Introductory Meet and greet at 2:00pm on FRI 29 NOV.

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. My understanding is that things have improved dramatically in recent years. Photography-wise, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) worldโ€™s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Both trips will run with only a single registrant. Lunch is included on all full days of each workshop.

Free Morning Session

Sign up for either IPT and enjoy a free morning session on Friday, 29 NOV.

$500 Multiple IPT Discount

Join me for both IPTs and we will be glad to apply a $500 multiple IPT discount.

To Register

To register, send your non-refundable $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than three months before the IPT. If you cancel, all but your deposit will be refunded only if the IPT sells out.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel 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 or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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 BAA Online Store ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Typos

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

July 13th, 2019

How Large a Crop?

What’s Up?

I have been able to stay up every day till between 8 and 9pm with only a short nap and I have been able to get lots of work done during the day without feeling like a zombie. The problem remains that I have been getting up between 2:30 and 3:00am. You gotta love jet lag.

I am starting to think about packing for the upcoming 2019 Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime IPT. So far, my cell phone has not been turned in to the EDI (Edinburg, Scotland Airport) lost and found.



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 the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. 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.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now both below and on the Used Gear Page.

New Listing

Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO II Lens

BPN-friend Robert Kimbrell is offering a Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO II lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $4199.00. The sale includes the tough front lens cover, the rear cap, the lens strap, the lens trunk, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower 48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Robert via e-mail.

I owned and used the 400 DO II when I shot with Canon and found a way to take it on most trips. I took it to Scotland and Nickerson Beach and San Diego. It served me well as my (lighter!) big gun several Galapagos and Southern Ocean (the Falklands and South Georgia) trips. It is a killer for flight with or without the 1.4X III TC. It is. razor-sharp with the 2X on static subjects and skilled folks have had amazing success hand holding it with the 2X III TC for flight and for action. artie

Price Reductions!

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Price Reduced $100.00 on July 13, 2019.

IPT veteran Mark Overgaard is offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II (92,170 shutter count) in excellent plus to near-mint condition (but for a few small scratch marks on the rear LCD) for the BAA record-low price of $649.00 (was $749.00). The sale includes the front body cap, a RRS L-plate, one LP-E6N Battery Pack, the battery charger, the camera strap, the original box and user documents, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US lower 48 addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Mark via e-mail.

The 7D Mark II is Canon’s top of the line crop factor body. If you doubt the image quality, do a search in the little white box on the top right of each blog post for “Dan Cadieux” or check out his incredible work in the Avian Forum on BirdPhotographer’s.Net. Or you can check out his opera-singing 7D II Virginia Rail image here. Not to mention that I made a slew of great images with this best-value-ever in a digital camera body … artie

Four-lens Canon EF-S Bundle

Price Reduced $150.00 on July 13, 2019.

IPT veteran Mark Overgaard is also offering a four-lens EF-S bundle, all in near-mint to like-new condition for the crazy-low price of $799.00 (was $949.00). EF-S lenses work only with Canon crop sensor bodies such as the 7D, the 7D Mark II, the 70D, and the 80D.

Here are the lenses:

  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  • Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
  • Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM

The sale includes all front and rear lens caps and hoods and insured ground shipping by UPS or FedEx to the lower 48 states only. For all but the 18-135mm lens, the original Canon box is also included.

Please contact Mark via e-mail.

If you are sold on Canon crop factor bodies like the 7D Mark II (see the work of Dan Cadieux), and are looking for some supplementary lenses, this package represents an incredible deal. These four lenses sell new for $1796.00 so you can save $997 by grabbing this great collection now. artie

bedford-logo-w-code

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 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.

osprey-back-of-head-_BUP9609-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL-1

This is a crop of an image that was created on the morning of June 5, 2019 down by the lake near my home. Working while seated in the front seat of my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO 400. For the uncropped original, matrix metering at about +2/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode was perfect with the histogram pushed all the way to the right. AUTO1 WB at 7:45am on a sunny morning with a very light cloud in front of the sun.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: a very significant +9. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

One up and two to the left of center Dynamic 9 points (d-9) Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. In the original frame, the selected AF point was on the bottom right of the bird’s neck.

Tight crop showing detail on the back of a young Osprey’s neck

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

How Large a Crop?

The JPEG above represents an unsharpened 100% crop of the full-frame original image.

What percentage of the original pixels do you think have been cropped away?

  • a: 98.3%
  • b: 88.3%
  • c: 78.3%
  • d: 68.3%
  • e: none of the above — please indicate your percentage

The FlexShooter Pro From the Car

Working with the FlexShooter Pro from the car or anywhere else is a dream. It’s a ballhead that thinks its a gimbal head. After one simple adjustment, all of your images will be square to the world. Your big lens will stay right where you point it. And I have done lots of flight photography from the driver’s seat of my Sequoia. It is simply amazing. Learn more about working off the FlexShooter Pro from your vehicle in the blog post here.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We have all but one of the BigFeet in stock but are sold out of the new FLN-60 BigFoot that was recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.

tripod-in-car

i-Phone 8+ image in Portrait Mode by Jim Litzenberg

Setting the Tripod Up in the Vehicle/Best by far with the FlexShooter Pro

The Setting up a Tripod in your Vehicle MP4 Video

$10 here in the BAA Online Store or free with your purchase of the life-changing FlexShooter Pro Head.

This seven-minute video will teach you exactly how to set up a tripod in most vehicles. You can do this with pretty much any tripod that does not have a center post. It is just one of the many reasons that I do not like or use a tripod with a center post. As I did for more than two decades, you can use this strategy with any ballhead or with a Wimberley V2 head or a Mongoose M3.6 action head, but the FlexShooter Pro has several huge advantages. First and foremost you are able to level the large silver ball. This enables you to pan with moving subjects and shoot action and even flight from the driver’s seat of your vehicle all while the camera remains 100% square to the world, aka “level.” The second big advantage is that the FlexShooter Pro has a lower profile than either of the other two heads mentioned so that you can be low enough to work subjects on the ground that are relatively close to your car.

You can order your copy of this MP4 video here in the BAA Online Store. It is free with the purchase of a FlexShooter Pro head. Those who have previously purchased the FlexShooter Pro from us can e-mail to request their free copy.

Bosque-2019-big-card

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPTs

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

2019 Bosque del Apache IPTs

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 7. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Return to Bosque IPT #2. NOV 29 (afternoon session thru DEC 4 (morning session) — 5 DAYS (4 full and two half): $2249.00. Limit: 10/Openings: 9. Introductory Meet and greet at 2:00pm on FRI 29 NOV.

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. My understanding is that things have improved dramatically in recent years. Photography-wise, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) worldโ€™s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Both trips will run with only a single registrant. Lunch is included on all full days of each workshop.

Free Morning Session

Sign up for either IPT and enjoy a free morning session on Friday, 29 NOV.

$500 Multiple IPT Discount

Join me for both IPTs and we will be glad to apply a $500 multiple IPT discount.

To Register

To register, send your non-refundable $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than three months before the IPT. If you cancel, all but your deposit will be refunded only if the IPT sells out.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel 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 or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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 BAA Online Store ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Typos

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

July 11th, 2019

Gannetry Insanity: The Best Tool for the Job is the Best Tool for the Job!

What’s Up?

I started this blog post in the club at Edinburgh Airport and completed most of it offline on my flight to Newark. I reached into the carrying pouch on the front of my sweatshirt for my i-phone 8+ only to find that it was not there. A careful search of my person and my laptop bag did not turn it up. Perhaps it will find its way back to me. Or not. I’ve learned through The Work that if my phone is indeed lost, that that would be the best thing that could have happened. And I can prove it. How? It happened. Beating our heads against the wall of reality is a choice that I try not make ๐Ÿ™‚

One evening over dinner on the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT the group was discussing their favorite children’s books. I. mentioned Mazie the lazy bird and was stunned that nobody had heard of Horton Hatches the Egg. So I went online, found the text, and did a poetry reading. Everyone liked it and first-timer Shonagh Adleman loved it. If you are looking for a gift for a small child you cannot go wrong by. getting them a copy of Horton Hatches the Egg.

Jim picked me up at 5:30pm as scheduled. We stopped for dinner and were home by 8:00pm. After the long travel day, I went right to bed and was up and wide awake before 2:00am. Hello, jet lag. I did manage to get back to sleep off and on for a few hours.

Your Favorite?

Please leave a comment and let us know which of today’s five featured images is your favorite and let us know why you made your choice.

Coming Soon

I will be announcing the Fort DeSoto Fall Sandbar Secrets IPT very soon. Both Bosque IPTs and the San Diego IPT are wide open. Click here to see the IPT listings.

Publication Delay ๐Ÿ™

Publication of the The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide, co-written and co-illustrated by Joe Przybyla and yours truly has been delayed as yours truly screwed up the PDF. Once that new e-Guide is released, the publication of Focus on Frogs โ€“ An Illustrated Guide to Great Photography was written and illustrated by Andrew McLachlan and edited for readability by yours truly will follow. Each of these new e-Guides is lavishly illustrated with images that will educate and inspire. Both will sell for $50.00 via electronic download.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We are sold out on the newly-arrived FLN-60 BigFeet recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.



BIRDS AS ART

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

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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.

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This image was created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 135mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR.

ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus two stops off the sky was about minus one stop as framed: 1/2000 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 10:52am on a drizzly day.

Center d-9 Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #1: Gannets, klittiwakes, guillemots, murres, and the old prison on Bass Rock.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Prison on Bass Rock

Stories of the old prison on Bass Rock describe horrific conditions. I framed as wide as possible to show the structure while avoiding the gannet-filled shelf just above the prison wall. I placed the two windows in the lower right; they might represent eyes, a window to the past if you would, through which we might imagine the horrors that took place there centuries ago.

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This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 155mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:43am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #2: Northern Gannet, adult in flight — Bass Rock in the background

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Including the Rock

When we got out to the rock, the drizzle increased to rain so Captain Gordon took us on a tour around the Rock. That was when I created Image #1 above. Soon the rain let up and the mate began feeding the gannets. We had two large boxes of small flatfish, some type of flounder or sole. They are a bycatch that die in the mesh of fishing nets used to catch larger food fish. In a way, this bycatch is recycled by the gannets. As mackerel — the gannet’s main food source — have pretty much disappeared from the North Sea in recent years, such feeding surely cannot hurt.

Anyhoo, with the gentle winds from just the right direction, it was easy to include some or all of Bass Rock in the backgrounds of our images.

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This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 145mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops of the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:31am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #3: Northern Gannet juvenile ready to dive

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Giant Soft Box

With the overcast skies, it was as if we were working in a giant softbox that provided soft, perfect light for gannet photography. Note that the exposures for all of the flight shots were identical. I did change the shutter speed briefly once or twice.

Northern-Gannet-formation-and-Bass-Rock-_BUP5707-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 200mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops of the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:06am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #4: Northern Gannet flight squadron

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Advantages of Blasting Away

For several years now, I have watched multiple IPT participant and very good friend Anita North blasting away at any bird that moves I caution her often, You’re taking too many pictures including hundreds of bad ones. You’re gonna have to edit 5000 images if you keep that up. Your hard drive is gonna be full again!. But, too many times I have seen her come up with amazing photographs, images that folks with a more conservative shooting strategy (like me, and probably like you too), would and could have never made. Recently, I have — taking a cue from Anita, pressing the shutter button more frequently than I have in the past.

Most of my 180-some-odd keepers from the gannet boat trip featured a single bird in flight. Northern Gannet flight squadron is, however, the result of the more aggressive approach that I have learned from Anita.

Northern-Gannet-upside-down-dive-_BUP5986-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 155mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops of the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:24am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #5: Northern Gannet — updside down dive

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Best Tool for the Job is the Best Tool for the Job!

I’ve been photographing gannets aboard the Fisher Lassie for about five years. The action is always non-stop frantic. I realized right off the bat that lenses like the 80- and 100-400mm zooms were too long and too heavy. I realized also that the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses while they offer just the right focal length range, are simply too heavy for most folks (especially me). My solution has been to go with a 70-200mm f/4 lens. Both the Canon and the Nikon versions are light enough to handhold for more than an hour. Both have excellent power-zoom ratios; a single turn of the wrist gets you from 70mm to 200mm and then back again. And best of all, at f/4, I had a one-stop ISO advantage over the rest of the gang working at f/5.6.

Consider …

Do consider the amazing versatility of a 70-200mm f/4 lens as shown by today’s featured images.

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Bosque del Apache 2019 IPTs

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

2019 Bosque del Apache IPTs

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Return to Bosque IPT #2. NOV 29 (afternoon session thru DEC 4 (morning session) — 5 DAYS (4 full and two half): $2249.00. Limit: 10/Openings: 9. Introductory Meet and greet at 2:00pm on FRI 29 NOV.

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. My understanding is that things have improved dramatically in recent years. Photography-wise, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) worldโ€™s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

I go with one registrant. Lunch is included on all full days of each workshop.

Free Morning Session

Sign up for either IPT and enjoy a free morning session on Friday, 29 NOV.

$500 Multiple IPT Discount

Join me for both IPTs and we will be glad to apply a $500 multiple IPT discount.

To Register

To register, send your non-refundable $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than three months before the IPT. If you cancel, all but your deposit will be refunded only if the IPT sells out.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel 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 or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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 BAA Online Store ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

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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 :).