April 19th, 2014

Bird Lives by Boston Jazz Hero Arni Cheatham

The Streak Continues: 141

I will be publishing this post just after 6:00am Amsterdam time, about noon on the east coast. We enjoyed another great day of photography at Keukenhof and the nearby tulip fields.

This post marks 141 straight days with a new blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, 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 we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.

This blog post took 1 1/2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


this-one

Arni Cheatham at work. Image by by Kayana Szymczak.

Press Release

Tammis Coffin, Education Coordinator

Museum of American Bird Art at Mass Audubon/Connecting People & Nature through Art
781-821-8853 x101 / 963 Washington St, Canton MA 02021

Bird Lives by Boston Jazz Hero Arni Cheatham

Bird Photography – Jazz Improvisation – Storytelling April 27

CANTON, MA – The Museum of American Bird Art (MABA) at Mass Audubon hosts Arni Cheatham’s performance of Bird Lives on Sunday afternoon, April 27 as part of their spring series titled “Travels with the Bird Artists.” Cheatham’s performance fuses his bird photography and stories with jazz improvisation in a museum setting of silkscreen prints of birds and habitats around the world. Bird Lives is an interwoven tapestry of stories, large format projected images and music presented by multi-talented artist Arni Cheatham. Named last year’s “Boston Jazz Hero” by the Jazz Journalists Association, Cheatham finds inspiration for his photography, stories and music near Boston and beyond. Below, MABA shares a brief interview with the artist about his upcoming performance, along with ticket information.

How do you get started with music?

I’ve been playing Jazz since my teens. Matter of fact I bought my first tenor saxophone while in High School and performed in many venues before my 21st birthday. My musical tastes have always run the gamut from blues, bebop and gospel, to Trane, Ornette and Free Jazz.

How about photography?

I was hooked on photography at an early age. My father was a serious shutterbug who loved photographing with his Yashicamat and Rolleiflex TLR cameras. He gave me my own Kodak Pony 135. As a teen, I worked part time with my dad at a photo reproduction company in Chicago and he educated me in the nuances that make an image great. Later, I began to investigate landscape and nature photography.


semipalmated-sandpiper

Juvenile Semipamated Sandpiper, image courtesy of and copyright Arni Cheatham.

What about birds?

As for bird photography, I’d looked longingly at the wonderful work of Arthur Morris over and over until I finally broke down in 1999 and acquired a Canon EOS-3 and a Canon 100-400mm lens. For the first time I had enough “reach” to begin to experiment with bird photography. The ball really got rolling in late 2004 with the advent of the Canon 20D DSLR. At last with the increased capacity of the CF card storage media, I could afford to take the many images on an outing that bird photography really requires. This is not to put an undue emphasis on equipment because equipment doesn’t take photographs on its own, however bird work in particular does have its minimum requirements.

When did these interests come together?

The first time I had an opening exhibit of my photography, it was a natural for me to have my quintet provide the music with me at the helm. And of course it was equally inevitable that I would tell the band to look at the images on the walls and make that the score for an improvisational performance.

What unites your music, your photography, your writing?

Music is my public art, and photography is my quiet art, and yet I consider them both part of the same continuum. In fact, there is a special place that I can sometimes arrive at when improvising. It’s a magical place where there is no thinking about notes, chords and fingers but rather literally being the music. The right hemisphere takes over. In like fashion, on an exceptional day I am in the same magical place when photographing. It’s not something that I can have all the time but like Nirvana, once you’ve tasted it you’ll always strive to experience it again.

With music, I attempt to tell the audience “Come. Let me take you on a journey. We may go somewhere you haven’t been before but I promise to bring you back safely.” Photographically I strive to follow the same principle and the writing is just another way to enhance the journey.

What birds fascinate you?

I first saw a photograph of a Puffin more than 10 years ago and the die was cast. Such beautiful coloration, amazing large quizzical red eyes, the rainbow beak and the orange rosettes that seem like a small orange stickpin being held in each corner of its mouth. From that fateful day until the trip I took last year, I dreamed often of having one of these gorgeous birds in my viewfinder with an unlimited time budget, great light, perfect weather conditions, unrestricted access and an empty CF card.

Do you consider yourself a “bird artist?”

I am simply Arni Cheatham, a guy with this incredible urge to create art every day. I’m fortunate to have several means to achieve that goal. I think that the fact I’m able to pursue that intention every day is a blessing. I’m passionate about bird photography. I am a decent photographer but not necessarily a great ornithologist. I shoot first and ask questions later.

However therein lies the wondrous part. Every day I have something to learn.

I look forward to each day as an opportunity to explore something new or learn more about something familiar. I believe that’s what an “artist” is at the core.


pintail

Norhtern Pintail, image courtesy of and copyright Arni Cheatham.

Ticket Information

Tickets for Cheatham’s 3pm program are $15 for Mass Audubon members and $19 for nonmembers. Advance reservations are required to massaudubon.org/maba or 781-821-8853.

Performance Details: Accompanying Cheatham will be creative improviser and long time musical associate, John Funkhouser, a well-known pianist/keyboardist, bassist composer and educator. Cheatham and Funkhouser have performed together in the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, Mark Harvey’s Jazztet, and other ensemble settings. Funkhouser teaches at Berklee School of Music and co-teaches with Cheatham for the JazzBoston’s Riffs and Raps program.

Other Events: The Travels with the Bird Artists series concludes May 1 with an evening presentation by author John Hanson Mitchell about bicycling with bird migrations across Europe, also by advance registration.


fort-desoto-card

Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Short Notice Fort DeSoto IPT/In-the-Field Workshops: May 9, 10, & 11, 2014

IPT–3 FULL DAYs: $1099
In-the-Field Workshops: $399/day

Fort DeSoto in spring is so good that I needed to create two cards in order to give folks an idea of what is possible. Even then I have barely scratched the surface. If you are coming from out of town you will surely want to do all 3 days, the entire IPT. Local folks may wish to join me for one or more full days.

There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns courting and copulating. American Oystercatcher plus lots of sandpipers and plovers, some in breeding plumage. Red Knot in breeding plumage likely. Lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Roseate Spoonbill and WOod Stork between possible and likely…. Lots of flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican.

You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

At lunch we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one. If you opt to bring your laptop, we will take a look at five of your best images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This is the IPT hotel: Comfort Inn St. Petersburg, FL. 2260 54th Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33714. tel: 1-727-362-0075. The best airport is Tampa (TPA).

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.


fort-desoto-card-b

Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make it in mid-May? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers

If the shorebirds in the ID quiz gave you pause, get yourself a copy of my Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers. Includes ID tips, shorebird biology, migration, and tons more. All in my simple-to-read easy-to-read style.

Canon Gear for Sale

Doug Bolt is offering a used Canon 400mm f/4L IS DO lens in very good to excellent condition for $4599. The sale includes the lens trunk and lens cover; the seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one should sell in minutes to someone looking for a lightweight super-telephoto. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Please contact Doug for additional info and/or a link to photos via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

Doug is also offering a used EOS-5D Mark II in very good to excellent condition for $1199. There is a shallow scratch on the body and a faint smudge on the top LCD. The sale includes a RRS L-plate, a vertical grip, and the original box and all the stuff that came in it. The seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one is a great body for flowers and landscapes. Mine saved me on a Southern Oceans cruise when I trashed two EOS-1D Mark IV bodies in a rainstorm; it was a great back-up camera body. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Again, please contact Doug for additional info and/or a link to photos via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

gatorland-card

Join me at Gatorland for a ton of learning. If you want to learn to use your flash, you will not want to miss this one. Click on the composite image to enjoy a larger version. Click on the composite to enjoy the larger size.

Another Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop

Saturday May 3, 2014. 7:15am till 10:15am & 4:00pm till dusk. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included. Limit 6. A very small group is again likely: $399.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

Chicks in nests likely. Breeding plumage Cattle and Snowy Egrets. And tons more. You will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. A big part of the above is that you will learn how and why you must work in Manual mode 90% of the time at Gatorland.

At lunch we will review my images, take a look at five of your best images from the morning session (for those who opt to bring their laptops), and process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time. Last Saturday all 3 folks had a great time and learned a ton. And the weather for this coming Saturday is looking good.

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

….. …..

Typos

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

April 18th, 2014

Beyond Breathtaking: Thank God For the 300mm f/2.8L IS

The Streak Continues: 140

I am publishing this blog post at about 2pm Amsterdam time, 8:00am on the east coast. We set out to do the tulip fields this morning but the blustery weather prompted us to go back to Keukenhof Gardens where we enjoyed the pretty much people-free grounds in the early morning and finished up doing the spectacular orchids in the Beatrix Pavilion. We are headed out to do the fields at 3pm. Not much time for a nap….

This post marks 140 straight days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, 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 we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.

This blog post took 2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


tulip-field-_a1c3358-keukenhof-lisse-holland

This image was created yesterday morning, April 17, on a scouting trip with our early-arriving clients in the tulip fields near the famed Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Holland (The Netherlands) with the Gitzo GT1542T Tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed: 1/320 sec. at f/11 in tv Mode. Color temperature: AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF on the first row of flowers and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Straight-Up

Beyond Breathtaking

Last year, with the coldest winter and early spring in Europe in 100 years, there were few flower fields. We really had to scrounge around. With more normal weather this year the flower fields are breathtaking.

Thank God For the 300mm f/2.8L IS

Both of today’s images were created with the 300 II and the 2X III TC. I am very glad that I brought the 300 rather than the 200-400. With the 300/2X combo I get 600mm at f/5.6. To get beyond 560mm with the 200-400 in need to add an external 1.4X TC and doing that leaves me at f/8. And the 300 saves me considerable weight as compared to the 200-400. Best of all the 300/2X combo gave me the reach that I needed.


tulip-field-blur-_a1c3449-keukenhof-lisse-holland

This image was created yesterday morning, April 17, on a scouting trip with our early-arriving clients in the tulip fields near the famed Keukenhof Gardens, Lisse, Holland (The Netherlands) with the Gitzo GT1542T Tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 50. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed: 1/4 sec. at f/32 in Tv Mode. Color temperature: AWB.

Central sensor/AI Servo/Surround Rear Focus AF about 1/3 of the way into the frame, re-compose, and pan. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Tripod-mounted Horizontal Pan Blur

Creating Pleasing Blurs

There is a lot more than meets the eye when creating images like the one above with long glass. First, I center the bubble in the scribed circle on the Mongoose to level the tripod platform. Then I use the electronic level in the 5D III to square the camera by rotating the lens in the tripod collar. Then of course you need to tighten the tripod collar. Next, I carefully determine the framing at the top by pointing the lens higher or lower. Once I am happy with that framing I lock the vertical panning knob but leave the horizontal panning knob loose.

I at ISO 50 in Tv mode at 1/4 second, add some light, and do a histogram check to make sure that I have a good exposure. Then it is simply matter of panning smoothly as you depress the shutter button. The faster you pan, the more ground you will cover and the smoother your blur will be. As always with blurs, vary your panning rate and be sure to take lots of images.

A Guide to Pleasing Blurs

If you would like to learn more about creating pleasing blurs, check out “A Guide to Pleasing Blurs” by Denise Ippolito and yours truly. Illustrated with 144 different, exciting, inspiring, and artistic images the guide covers the basics of creating pleasingly blurred images, the factors that influence the degree of blurring, the use of filters in creating pleasing blurs, and a great variety of both in-the-field and Photoshop techniques that can be used to create the pleasingly blurred, out-of-the box images that do so well in major photographic compositions.

Your Favorite?

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which image you like best, and why. I have a very strong preference….


fort-desoto-card

Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Short Notice Fort DeSoto IPT/In-the-Field Workshops: May 9, 10, & 11, 2014

IPT–3 FULL DAYs: $1099
In-the-Field Workshops: $399/day

Fort DeSoto in spring is so good that I needed to create two cards in order to give folks an idea of what is possible. Even then I have barely scratched the surface. If you are coming from out of town you will surely want to do all 3 days, the entire IPT. Local folks may wish to join me for one or more full days.

There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns courting and copulating. American Oystercatcher plus lots of sandpipers and plovers, some in breeding plumage. Red Knot in breeding plumage likely. Lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Roseate Spoonbill and WOod Stork between possible and likely…. Lots of flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican.

You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

At lunch we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one. If you opt to bring your laptop, we will take a look at five of your best images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This is the IPT hotel: Comfort Inn St. Petersburg, FL. 2260 54th Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33714. tel: 1-727-362-0075. The best airport is Tampa (TPA).

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.


fort-desoto-card-b

Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make it in mid-May? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers

If the shorebirds in the ID quiz gave you pause, get yourself a copy of my Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers. Includes ID tips, shorebird biology, migration, and tons more. All in my simple-to-read easy-to-read style.

Canon Gear for Sale

Doug Bolt is offering a used Canon 400mm f/4L IS DO lens in very good to excellent condition for $4599. The sale includes the lens trunk and lens cover; the seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one should sell in minutes to someone looking for a lightweight super-telephoto. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Please contact Doug for additional info and/or a link to photos via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

Doug is also offering a used EOS-5D Mark II in very good to excellent condition for $1199. There is a shallow scratch on the body and a faint smudge on the top LCD. The sale includes a RRS L-plate, a vertical grip, and the original box and all the stuff that came in it. The seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one is a great body for flowers and landscapes. Mine saved me on a Southern Oceans cruise when I trashed two EOS-1D Mark IV bodies in a rainstorm; it was a great back-up camera body. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Again, please contact Doug for additional info and/or a link to photos via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

gatorland-card

Join me at Gatorland for a ton of learning. If you want to learn to use your flash, you will not want to miss this one. Click on the composite image to enjoy a larger version. Click on the composite to enjoy the larger size.

Another Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop

Saturday May 3, 2014. 7:15am till 10:15am & 4:00pm till dusk. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included. Limit 6. A very small group is again likely: $399.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

Chicks in nests likely. Breeding plumage Cattle and Snowy Egrets. And tons more. You will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. A big part of the above is that you will learn how and why you must work in Manual mode 90% of the time at Gatorland.

At lunch we will review my images, take a look at five of your best images from the morning session (for those who opt to bring their laptops), and process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time. Last Saturday all 3 folks had a great time and learned a ton. And the weather for this coming Saturday is looking good.

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.

Support the BAA Blog. Support the BAA Bulletins: Shop B&H here!

We want and need to keep providing you with the latest free information, photography and Photoshop lessons, and all manner of related information. Show your appreciation by making your purchases immediately after clicking on any of our B&H or Amazon Affiliate links in this blog post. Remember, B&H ain’t just photography!

….. …..

Typos

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

April 17th, 2014

Pink and Peachy

The Streak Continues: 139

I am publishing this blog post at about noon in Amsterdam, which is about 6:00am on the east coast. We took the early arriving participants out for a morning session in the tulip fields. The colors and patterns are beyond stunning…. After a short nap and then lunch we meet the group at 1:30pm for our first formal session.

This post marks 139 straight days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H links and our Amazon logo-links why quit now? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially Gitzo tripods, Wimberley tripod heads, and the like. We sell only what I used, 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 we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.

This blog post took 2 hours to put together. Enjoy!


tulipa-dordogne-_a1c3087-keukenhof-lisse-holland

This image was created yesterday, on the afternoon of April 16 at Keukenhof Gardens with the Gitzo GT1542T Tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops as framed: 1/60 sec. at f/4 in Av Mode. Color temperature: 3500.

Central sensor only manual focus as there was not enough contrast anywhere for AF to work. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1

Keukenhof Scouting

Denise and I arrived in Amsterdam a day early in order to get in a bit of scouting. The flower fields are 1000 times better than last year when we caught the tail end of the coldest winter and early spring in 100 years. The tulips in Willem-Alexander Pavilion are well past peak and many of the plots of tulips have been cut. But with fewer folks visiting and lots of older flowers photography is spectacular as it is easy to see into the flower centers (though that is not what I did for the two images featured today).

The name for today’s flower is “Tulipa Dordgone. With one of the petals on the right slightly separated from the flower the darker strip of orange in each image is actually the inside of the flower. This image would not have been possible had I been working with a perfect blossom….


tulipa-dordgone-_a1c3094-keukenhof-lisse-holland

This image of the same flower was also created yesterday, on the afternoon of April 16 at Keukenhof Gardens with the Gitzo GT1542T Tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens, and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop as framed: 1/80 sec. at f/4 in Av Mode. Color temperature: 3500.

Central sensor only manual focus as there was not enough contrast anywhere for AF to work. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2

Vary Your Compositions

While working with this single flower I made 39 images varying my framing and apertures as I went. I quickly noticed that using a smaller aperture brought up too much background detail. I often moved my tripod a bit left or right or up or down to vary the background and eliminate anything distracting, and several times moved in a bit or back a bit to achieve the desired framing.

The Lightweight Gitzo GT1542T 4-section Traveler Tripod

I have owned this tripod for about a year now. For the most part, I use it mostly to hold the LensAlign Mark II when micro-adjusting my lenses. On a whim, I packed it in one of my two checked bags for the Holland trip along with my workhorse Gitzo 3532 tripod. I have been rehabbing my right shoulder for more than a decade…. Yesterday I decided to go super-light with the tiny tripod and the Mongoose. Lord was I pleased. I used the 300 II with the 2X III TC and using good sharpness techniques on my part I was able to make sharp images at shutter speeds below 1/100 sec. And my shoulder felt great after the 5 hour photo session.

Because the Gitzo GT1542T will be top heavy with pretty much any camera and lens mounted on it, it is imperative that you never ever leave your tripod unattended, even for an instant. If you do lots of flowers and/or work with an intermediate telephoto lens and you like lightweight stuff, the Gitzo GT1542T tripod might just be perfect for you. Click here to read my probably too honest evaluation. As for me, I am sold on it for flower photography. More coming soon.

Canon Tripod Mount Ring D for IS 100mm f/2.8L Macro Lens

Because the 100 macro does not come with a tripod collar, those of you who own the lens are likely wondering “How does he get the 100 macro onto a Mongoose?” The answer is simple. I purchased the right tripod collar as a Canon accessory. In general it is not a good policy to mount the camera onto a ball head with the lens hanging from the front of it and stressing the lens mount. I prefer using the Mongoose for my flower photography for a variety of reasons so once I learned of the Canon Tripod Mount Ring D for IS 100mm f/2.8L Macro Lens I made it a point to get my hands on one asap and to bring it to Holland. And I did.

I tried the much cheaper ($49.95 as compared to $172.00) Vello Tripod Collar D (Black) for Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens but it pretty much turned out to be junk. It was very difficult to loosen and open it and very difficult to get it on the lens and tighten it. So I went with the Canon version. In general, you get what you pay for.

Your Favorite?

Take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of the two images here you like best. And be sure to let us know why.

Shorebird ID

In yesterday’s blog post ID quiz most folks did quite well. Most were easy peasy. But nobody got #4 correct in the first composite…. Three thought Western Sandpiper but that is incorrect. Semipalmated Sandpiper was closer but incorrect. Here’s a clue: if I gave you a clue most folks would get it right…. I will come clean in a day or so but till then, let’s see if someone can figure it out correctly.


fort-desoto-card

Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Short Notice Fort DeSoto IPT/In-the-Field Workshops: May 9, 10, & 11, 2014

IPT–3 FULL DAYs: $1099
In-the-Field Workshops: $399/day

Fort DeSoto in spring is so good that I needed to create two cards in order to give folks an idea of what is possible. Even then I have barely scratched the surface. If you are coming from out of town you will surely want to do all 3 days, the entire IPT. Local folks may wish to join me for one or more full days.

There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns courting and copulating. American Oystercatcher plus lots of sandpipers and plovers, some in breeding plumage. Red Knot in breeding plumage likely. Lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. Roseate Spoonbill and WOod Stork between possible and likely…. Lots of flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican.

You will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

At lunch we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me edit–why keep this one and delete that one. If you opt to bring your laptop, we will take a look at five of your best images from the morning session. We will process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This is the IPT hotel: Comfort Inn St. Petersburg, FL. 2260 54th Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33714. tel: 1-727-362-0075. The best airport is Tampa (TPA).

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.


fort-desoto-card-b

Fort DeSoto in spring is rich with tame birds. With many in breeding plumage it is a photographer’s paradise. I hope that you can join me there in mid-May.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make it in mid-May? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers

If the shorebirds in the ID quiz gave you pause, get yourself a copy of my Shorebirds/Beautiful Beachcombers. Includes ID tips, shorebird biology, migration, and tons more. All in my simple-to-read easy-to-read style.

Canon Gear for Sale

Doug Bolt is offering a used Canon 400mm f/4L IS DO lens in very good to excellent condition for $4599. The sale includes the lens trunk and lens cover; the seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one should sell in minutes to someone looking for a lightweight super-telephoto. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Please contact Doug for additional info and/or a link to photos via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

Doug is also offering a used EOS-5D Mark II in very good to excellent condition for $1199. There is a shallow scratch on the body and a faint smudge on the top LCD. The sale includes a RRS L-plate, a vertical grip, and the original box and all the stuff that came in it. The seller will pay shipping to US addresses only. This one is a great body for flowers and landscapes. Mine saved me on a Southern Oceans cruise when I trashed two EOS-1D Mark IV bodies in a rainstorm; it was a great back-up camera body. The item will ship only when the check clears.

Again, please contact Doug for additional info and/or a link to photos via e-mail or try him by phone at home: at 301-937-3112 or on his cell at 301-537-8073.

gatorland-card

Join me at Gatorland for a ton of learning. If you want to learn to use your flash, you will not want to miss this one. Click on the composite image to enjoy a larger version. Click on the composite to enjoy the larger size.

Another Gatorland Short Notice Saturday Full-Day In-the-Field Workshop

Saturday May 3, 2014. 7:15am till 10:15am & 4:00pm till dusk. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included. Limit 6. A very small group is again likely: $399.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

Chicks in nests likely. Breeding plumage Cattle and Snowy Egrets. And tons more. You will learn to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. A big part of the above is that you will learn how and why you must work in Manual mode 90% of the time at Gatorland.

At lunch we will review my images, take a look at five of your best images from the morning session (for those who opt to bring their laptops), and process a few of my images in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. That followed by Instructor Nap Time. Last Saturday all 3 folks had a great time and learned a ton. And the weather for this coming Saturday is looking good.

Payment in full via credit card is due upon registering. Please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register.

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Typos

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