August 1st, 2015

400 DO/2X III TC/7D II Hand Held Miracle/Many Folks Think That I was Right & Used Canon 200-400mm f/4L IS Lens for Sale

Stuff & the Namibia IPT

Most of Friday was spent on the phone and on Skype setting up the first-ever Namibia IPT. Photos of Namibian dunes, dead trees, and wildlife are honored annually in pretty much all of the prestigious nature photography contests including and especially the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and the Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards Contest. We have set up a truly great itinerary; this workshop was planned with the help of two BBC honored local photographers with an intimate knowledge of the area who will act as our guides for the entire trip. This IPT will be co-led by Denise Ippolito and yours truly. The dates and the price are set in stone: April 14-28, 2016. 15/days/14 nights: $8999 from Windhoek, Namibia (Hosea Kutako International Airport, airport code WDH). Please contact me via e-mail if you would like to register or receive the itinerary. To register, please e-mail first and then send your $3,000 non-refundable deposit check made out to “Arthur Morris” to us at PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates FL 33855. We do expect this one to sell out very quickly….

Happy campers only please.

I did not get much else accomplished but did catch up a bit on e-mail. I enjoyed an early ice bath, my core exercises, and a late swim. I began this blog post at 3:30 am today. It was published just after 6:15am on Saturday August 1, 2015. All who enjoy the blog, especially those who do not regularly use our B&H affiliate links, are invited to thank us by clicking on the BAA Blog Thanks link here.

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog or via a BAA Online Bulletin is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charges a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly–I offer free pricing advice, usually sells in no time flat. In the past few months we have sold nearly everything in sight. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the original 400mm IS DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can see the complete listings here.

Brand New Listing

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

Ron Paulk is offering a lightly used Canon EF 200-400 f/4 IS USM Lens w/Internal 1.4x Extender in excellent condition for $9299. The sale includes the following items that come with the lens: the lens trunk, the E145C Lens Cover, the rear lens cap E, the lens strap, the lens hood, the 52mm drop-in filter holder, and the strap for the hard case. Also included are a Realtree Max4 LensCoat (a $104 value), a RRS LCF-53 Foot (a $110 value), and and insured shipping to US addresses via FED-EX Ground. Your new lens will ship in the original Canon box after your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ron by e-mail or by phone at 360-391-2090 PDT.

I have owned and used this great lens pretty much since day one. I have had great success with it in the Southern Ocean, in Africa, in the Galapagos, on the first UK Puffins trip, at Nickerson Beach on Long Island, on the San Diego IPT, and on several Bear Boat trips. When you need reach and the ability to frame perfect from 200 through 560mm (or to 784mm at f/8 with an external 1.4X III TC added), this lens cannot be beat. At $9299 Ron’s lens is priced to sell. It currently sells new at B&H for $10,299. The last one we sold through our used gear listings went for $9799. artie


galapagos-penguin-head-portrait-blacks-de-sat-400-do-2x-iii-tc-7d-ii-_y8a7308-punta-mangle-fernandina-galapagos-ecuador

This image was created on a panga (zodiac) ride at Punta Mangle, Fernandina on Day 5 of the 2015 Galapagos Photo Cruise with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lensCanon Extender EF 2X III, and the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/1600 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode.

Center AF point (by necessity) Manual Selection/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected sensor was on the base of the bird’s upper mandible. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Galapagos Penguin head portrait

400 DO/2X III TC/7D II Hand Held Miracle

The zodiac was rocking pretty good and framing any subject at any focal length was difficult at best. In retrospect, I have no idea why I went to the 400 DO II/2X III/7D II combination while working in a panga with six other photographers. The effective focal length of this set-up is 400mm times 2 times the 1.6X crop factor of the 7D II: 1280mm or 25.6X magnification. After making a very few images and seeing on the rear LCD that I had properly framed two decent images I swapped the 2X III for the 1.4X III; I remember that even then I had trouble framing anything as the wind had picked up a bit…. To my mind, the capture of today’s featured image was pretty much of a miracle.

Head Angle Comment

Note the perfect head angle with the bird’s head turned about 1 1/2 degrees towards us. This places the bill tip on the same plane as the subject’s eye giving the impression of greater overall sharpness.

The Image Optimization

Note: this image is uncropped. After converting it in DPP 4, the optimization was pretty much straightforward; the image was so sharp out of the camera that I did not feel the need to run my NIK 50-50 recipe…. As detailed in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide, Arash Hazeghi’s 7D II Luminance and Chrominance Noise Reduction values performed admirably. When I shared the image with Denise Ippolito via e-mail she suggested that there was too much BLUE in the BLACKs. After the fact, I brought the image back into Photoshop, selected the BLACKs with the Quick Selection Tool, and reduced the saturation of the BLUEs, GREENs, CYANs, and YELLOWs about 50% as detailed in Digital Basics. Color-wise, the image was much improved. Thanks Lady D.

Image Question

With the sun slightly muted by a thin cloud, why didn’t I add a bit of light to the suggested exposure?

Many Folks Think That I was Right, and So Do I

The following appeared in the blog post here:

I was Wrong in Part: My Errors

Thanks to comments first left by first by John Armitage and backed up by Steve Soderling the major premise of yesterday’s blog, that camera shake is greater with a crop factor camera, was incorrect. I was tricked (if you were) into this error because the shake appears much more evident when you are looking through the viewfinder of a crop factor camera than when you are looking through the viewfinder of a full frame or 1.3X crop factor camera. I apologize for my error.

Thanks to John and Steve for setting me straight.

On the 2015 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT, Alan Lillich opined that I had indeed been right for the following reason: the amount of shake when considered on a pixel level is indeed greater with the 7D II with its more tightly packed pixels. Others e-mailed and stated the same thing. Today, I firmly believe that in order to create sharp images when working with a 7D Mark II you need to keep a lens more steady than when you are working with any full frame or 1.3X crop factor Canon camera body….

Speaking of John Armitage…

Thanks again to John for loaning me his brand new 400 DO II for the Galapagos trip. The lens was shipped back to him yesterday (in new condition) via Fed-Ex 2nd day air along with a few thank you goodies.


bear-boat-bearscatchingsalmoncard

All of the images in the bear boat card above were created in Katmai National Park during the month of September.

Bear Boat/Bears Catching Salmon IPT: September 1-8, 2015 from Kodiak, AK/6 FULL & 2 1/2 DAYS: $6699. Happy campers only! Maximum 8/Openings: 2. Plus the leader: Arthur Morris.

Call for late registration discount info!

Join me in Katmai National Park, AK for seven days of photographing Coastal Brown Bears (grizzlies) catching salmon, fattening up for the long winter. Other subjects will include Mew and Glaucous-winged Gulls in flight and dip-feeding on salmon roe. Did I mention that we live on a boat and that the food is great? Most of our photography will be done in a variety of famed locations: Geographic Harbor, Kinak Bay, and Kukak Bay. We once had 39 bears fishing the creek at Kukak….

It is mandatory that you be in Kodiak no later than the late afternoon of August 31, 2015 September to avoid missing the float planes to the boat on the morning of September 1. With air travel in AK being what it is, with the chance of fog or other bad weather–being on Kodiak on August 30 is an even better plan). I will be on Kodiak on August 30 to avoid any potential disaster. That said in my nearly a dozen bear boat trips I was delayed only once but since I was day early as noted above there was no harm, no foul.

We will take one or more float planes to the boat mid-morning on September 1. We will photograph bears fishing that afternoon and every day for the next six days (weather permitting of course). We should have bears catching salmon every day. In addition, we will get some nice stuff on Mew Gull and Glaucous-winged Gulls dining on roe and the remains of predated salmon. We may–depending on where the concentrations of bears are–get to photograph Harbor seals and some hauled out Steller’s Sea Lions (an endangered species). Halibut fishing (license required) is optional. On September 8, our last morning on the boat, those who would like to enjoy one last photo session will do so. The group returns to Kodiak via float plane midday. Most folks will fly to Anchorage and then continue on red-eye flights to their home cities.

The eight days will consist of six full days (Sept 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7) of photography featuring lots of Coastal Brown Bears catching salmon as above plus a variety of other natural history subjects plus some nice scenic photography that I forgot to mention above. Plus the first afternoon and the last morning.

What’s included? 8 DAYS/7 NIGHTS on the boat as above. All meals on the boat. (The food is quite excellent.) National Park fees. One night’s double occupancy lodging on Kodiak; arrive: Sept 1/depart: Sept 2. The thank-you-in-advance dinner on Sept 1. In-the-field photo tips, instruction, and guidance. An insight into the mind of a top professional; I will constantly let you know what I am thinking, what I am doing, and why I am doing it. Small group image review, image sharing, and Photoshop instruction on the boat.

What’s not included: Your round trip airfare to and from Kodiak, AK (almost surely through Anchorage). All necessary lodging other than the cost of your double occupancy room on the night of August 31 should you opt to arrive early–we can arrange that in advance for you. We will let you know the cost of a single supplement for the one night if so desired. The cost of the round-trip float plane to the boat on September 2 and back to Kodiak on September 9. The cost of a round trip this year was $500. The suggested crew tip of $210.

Is this an expensive trip? Yes, of course. But with 6 full and two half days, a wealth of great subjects, and the fact that you will be walking with the bears just yards away (or less….) it will be one of the great natural history experiences of your life. Most folks who take part in a Bear Boat IPT wind up coming back for more.

A $2,000 per person non-refundable deposit by check only made out to “Arthur Morris” is required to hold your spot. Please click here to read our cancellation policy. Then please print, read, and sign the necessary paperwork here and send it to us.

Your deposit is due immediately. That will leave a balance of $4699. The next payment of $2699 will be due on February 15, 2015. The final payment of $2000 is due on May 1, 2015.

I hope that you can join us for this wondrously exciting trip.

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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 :).

July 31st, 2015

Problem Anticipated; Problem Solved Despite a Serious Error in Thinking... Result: A Spectacular Image. Persistence and Determination Pay Off As Usual

What’s Up?

Got lots done yesterday. Changed an important flight for my Alaska trip. Finalized the dates for the 2015 Galapagos Photo-Cruise. And answered dozens of important e-mails. It felt good to get into my lap pool, to do my core exercises, and to start eating well.

This blog post was published just before 7:45am from my home-sweet-home at Indian Lake Estates, FL on Friday, July 31, 2015.

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Galapagos Photo Cruise Dates Finalized

We will be on the ship for this great trip from August 8-22, 2017. The trip will be formally announced within one week. Though we fully expect this trip to sell out quickly, do understand that we will need at least 8 deposits in had by August 2016 or possibly before that date for this trip to run. Do understand that if you make a photography trip to the Galapagos with us that you will be maximizing your photographic opportunities and getting the absolute most out of your travel and workshop dollars. Join us for a world class learning experience.

I would assume that after viewing the variety and quality of the images in this and in recent and coming blog posts that most passionate nature photographers would wish to join us on the next Galapagos photo adventure during the first two weeks of August, 2017. If that includes you, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Galapagos August 2017 Photo-Cruise” cut and pasted into the Subject Line. Details will be announced shortly after I get back. The best news is that there will be two great leaders, yours truly and Denise Ippolito.


spotted-eagle-ray-youngster-a_y5o9284-sullivan-bay-isabela-galapagos-ecuador

This image was created on a panga ride at Elizabeth Bay, Isabela, on Day 7 of the 2015 Galapagos Photo Cruise with the hand held Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens (at 145mm) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 3200. Evaluative metering -2/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode.

Two rows below and four to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/shutter button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The active AF point fell on young ray’s upper back just behind its head. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

With the Singh-Ray 77mm Warming Circular Polarizer set to dark. See the tutorial below.

Spotted Eagle Ray/juvenile swimming

The Anticipated Problem

We had an early panga (zodiac) photo session scheduled. It was cloudy dark. The targets in the red mangrove bays would be turtles and rays along with a few birds. It is usually pretty dark in among the mangroves. When photographing creatures swimming slightly under the surface of the water, it is best to use a circular polarizer set to dark to eliminate the reflections. This allows you (and your camera and lens) to “see” better. The polarizer, however, robs you of light. Most circular polarizers steal 3 full stops of light. With the high quality of the Singh-Ray circular polarizers you lose only two stops of light thereby gaining one full stop of ISO.

In short, it was gonna be dark. Choosing the 1D X over the 7D II for its superior high ISO performance was a no-brainer as we have seen in recent blog posts. And going with the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II was also an easy choice as it would save me two full stops of ISO over the much slower 100-400 II at f/5.6 or so. In addition, the subjects would be at close range, actually right next to the pangas.

The Problem in Reality

I started out with ISO 800 adding 1/3 stop of light and found that my shutter speeds were much too slow so I went to ISO 1600. Juan positioned the zodiac perfectly and I fired away. Upon close inspection none of the images juvie rays were sharp at shutter speeds of 1/50 or 1/60 sec. Enlarged on the rear lCD they looked like crap. As Juan and I often tease each other he enjoyed mocking me in front of the group. All in fun of course.

I was not sure what the problem was. Were my shutter speeds still too slow or was the camera having trouble focusing on creatures that were a bit too far below the surface?

I saw some of Indranil Sircar’s images on the back of his 7D II and they looked pretty good. And he was actually underexposing a bit. Thus inspired and fully determined, I went to ISO 3200 and set the EC to -2/3. We had one more good chance and I nailed several images that looked more than sharp enough with the one above being my very favorite.

My Serious Error

Take a close look at the shooting data and leave a comment letting us know what you think was my major error in thinking (and in the execution of today’s image).

Singh-Ray Filters

Singh-Ray filters have been used by the world’s top photographers for many decades. Most notably the late Galen Rowell. Singh-Ray has been and is the name in quality filters. I often use the Singh-Ray 77mm Warming Circular Polarizer set to dark when photographing rainbows, to eliminate reflections when photographing on or around the water (and when photographing the water itself as with today’s spectacular image), and to juice up a cloud-filled sky on a on bright sunny day, the latter especially when working off sun angle.

And I absolutely love the Singh-Ray 3-stop resin and 5-stop glass Neutral Density Filters. I use the 77mm versions of these filters on my 24-105, my 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS, and my new and beloved 100-400mm IS II lens so that I can create blurs on sunny days without having to stop down to f/too-many dust spots…. With a 5-stop glass ND in place I can easily get down to shutter speeds of 1/2 second and slower on clear, bright sunny days.

BIRDS AS ART has been working with Singh-Ray to produce a 5-stop Neutral Density filter to to fit the filter drawers of Canon Super-telephoto lenses. Info on the will be presented here very soon so stay tuned. If you will be heading to Bosque this season, you will want at least one of the 52mm ND filters in your Xtrahand vest.

No other filter manufacturer comes close to matching the quality of Singh-Ray’s optical glass; it is comparable to that used by NASA. And they continue to pioneer the most innovative products on the market like their ColorCombo polarizers and the Mor-Slo 15-stop neutral density filter. When you use their filters, you’ll create better, more dramatic images and, unlike as with other filters, with absolutely no sacrifice in image quality. All Singh-Ray filters are handcrafted in the USA.

Best News: 10% Discount/Code at checkout: artie10

To shop for a Singh-Ray Warming Circular Polarizer (for example), click on the logo link above or the one in the right hand column of each blog post, click on Polarizers/color enhancing on the menu bar, choose LB Warming Polarizer, choose the size and model, add to cart, and then checkout. Click on Continue to checkout. In the “Have a Coupon?” box (the second from the top), click on this active link: “Click here to enter your code” and then type “artie10″ into the box. Click on “Apply Coupon” and a healthy 10% discount will be applied to your total. In addition to enjoying the world’s best filter at 10% off you will be supporting my efforts here on the blog.

How to Set A Circular Polarizer to Dark

Mount the polarizer. Put the camera in Av mode with zero Exposure Compensation (EC). Point the lens at the sky 90 degrees off sun angle. Turn the polarizer slowly while noting the shutter speed as you rotate the polarizer. Quit turning the polarizer when you determine the slowest shutter speed. Now you are set up to work right down sun angle several about two stops slower than if you were not using the polarizer (set to dark). Or best photograph rainbows. Or cut down reflections off the surface of the water. Or create more dramatic skies.


nickersonbeach-carda

The strange thing is that when I lived in New York, I never knew about this amazing and consistently productive location.

Nickerson Beach/JBWR (possibly…)/Black Skimmer/Oystercatcher/migrant shorebird IPT: August 13-16, 2015. 3 1/2 DAYS: $1399.

Meet and greet on the evening of WED August 12. Limit 10/Openings 2.

Call for late registration discount info!

Most of our seven photo sessions will be spent at Nickerson beach photographing the nesting Black Skimmers. In flight, sometimes battling. Carrying fish. Chicks of varying sizes from a very few just-hatched to lots of fledglings. It is likely that we will get to see some Great Black-backed Gulls preying on the juvenile skimmers. They swallow them whole. There will be lots of gulls to photograph as well as some Common Terns. Locally breeding shorebird species include American Oystercatcher–pretty much guaranteed, Willet, which is likely, and Piping Plover, which is probable but we need to get lucky with those to get close….

Save a space by calling Jim or Jen at the office and arranging to leave your deposit of $499. The check for you balance is due immediately. I hope that you can join us at this late date.


nickerson-beach-card-c

JBWR?

If local conditions are ideal we may visit Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge to photograph southbound migrant shorebirds on one or possibly two mornings. Even if we do not visit JBWR we should get some good chances with the migrant shorebirds at the beach, especially Sanderling and Semipalmated Plover. Red Knot and others are possible.


nickerson-beach-card-b

As you can see, the oystercatchers are quite tame at Nickerson. And we will get you up early and we will stay out late.

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…..

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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 :).

July 30th, 2015

100-400II Versatility Allows for a Unique Shipboard Perspective and Mega-Creativity

What’s Up?

After 15 days on the ship, the bathroom in my home was still rocking a bit in the dark last night…. I really fell off the wagon eating the great food on the trip and need to get back with the program now. Breakfast soon.

I have tons to do after the long travel day yesterday. We taxied for more than an hour coming out of Panama City Panama for the flight to Orlando. Without any AC. I flew home with good friend Chris Billman; my right-hand man Jim Litzenberg picked us up at MCO at about 3:45pm and drove us to Publix and then on to Indian Lake Estates. Chris loaded his truck and headed back to his home in South Carolina. I am hoping that he had the sense to overnight at his sister’s home in Kissimmee.

Today’s blog post was published from my home at Indian Lake Estates at 7:20am on Thursday, July 30, 2015.

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART/A Creative Adventure Galapagos Photo Cruise

I would assume that after viewing the variety and quality of the images in this and in coming blog post that most passionate nature photographers would wish to join us on the next Galapagos photo adventure during the first two weeks of August, 2017. If that includes you, please shoot me an e-mail with the words “Galapagos August 2017 Photo-Cruise” cut and pasted into the Subject Line. Details will be announced shortly after I get back. The best news is that there will be two great leaders, yours truly and Denise Ippolito.

Relevant and Important Comments from yesterday’s blog post….


comments

Please Help Support My Work on the BAA Blog

Thanks a Stack! June was a Great Month.

Thanks a stack to the many who used our B&H links for purchases large and small. To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we ask, as always, that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. B&H Is recommended for you major photography gear purchases, Amazon for your household, entertainment, and general purpose stuff. 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 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 we are 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 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.


storm-petrel-dorsal-flight-view-from-ship-_y5o5024-rabida-galapagos-ecuador

This image was created at 3:05pm from the deck of the ship while it was anchored for our landing at Rabida on Day 14 of the 2015 Galapagos Photo Cruise with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 135mm!) and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering -2/3 stops off the green water: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure (as is always best when hand holding). The selected AF point fell on the base of the right side of the petrel’s fanned tail. Note: this image was rotated 3 degrees clockwise and a small crop was executed. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

White-vented (Elliot’s) Strom Petrel dip-feeding/dorsal view

100-400II Versatility Allows for a Unique Shipboard Perspective and Mega-Creativity

I noticed some storm petrels feeding off the stern of our boat so I grabbed my 100-400 II and mounted the 1D X. Immediately I noticed that several of the birds were flying slowly into the wind just a foot or two from the hull on the port side of the ship. I realized that I would need a relatively fast shutter speed from the gently rocking boat so I set ISO 1600. I held the camera vertically and set the exposure manually to 2/3 stop darker than the reading off the shaded green water.

As I was formulating my plan to create a few images featuring a dorsal (top) view of this difficult-at-best to photograph bird, I noted two or three perfect (and missed) opportunities as the birds flew towards my position. After I was ready I had one chance and made three images of a petrel that was just past my position. Today’s featured image was the best of the lot.

Image Questions

#1: Why did I grab the 1D X rather than the 7D II? (There were three good reasons.)

#2: Why did I need to go with -2/3 stop exposure compensation (EC)?

#3: What is your favorite part of the image?

#4: What is your least favorite part of the image?

#5: Overall, what do you think of the image?

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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!

…..

Amazon.com

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use this link:

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here. Many thanks to those who have written.

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 :).