Patrick Sparkman Does Spectacular Totality With the 7D Mark II. And How! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Patrick Sparkman Does Spectacular Totality With the 7D Mark II. And How!


A 66-image career retrospective solo exhibit of my work at the San Diego Natural History Museum (aka The Nat) will open on Saturday, January 16, 2016 and run through April 25, 2016. More than 4,000 folks are expected to visit the show. I spent a good part of yesterday picking images. I am planning on 11 groupings with six framed images each. Whew, there are simply too many good ones….

In addition, I spent some time cleaning up day folders with images from the past summer. I will continue both of those endeavors this weekend. I did have time for an early swim and an early ice bath. And recently, I have been spending a good deal of time each day doing two different meditations and am adding a third one today.

This blog post took about an hour to prepare. It was published just after 6am on Saturday, October 3, 2015. Please remember to use my B&H affiliate links for your major gear purchases; online orders only; no phone orders. Won’t cost you a penny! And helps me out tremendously. Many thanks for considering this important request.

Artie’s New Tripod

Interest has been huge. It looks as if we will be e-mailing the info to those who requested it on Monday. If that happens, I will likely post it to the blog mid-week to give those who e-mailed first crack at the stock.

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 just about 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.

After a two-week lull, there have been several sales over the past few days:

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM lens (the “old five”) was sold by Dane Johnson for $4150 in early October 2015.
Sigma Zoom Super Telephoto 300-800mm f/5.6 lens (Canon mount) was sold by Beth Starr for $4,999 in early October 2015.
Canon EOS-1D X in excellent condition was sold by Patrick Sparkman for $3650 in early October, 2014.

You can see all of the current listings here.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS lens (the “old five”)

Lowest-ever BAA Price!

Alan Walther is offering a used Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS lens (the “old five”) in excellent plus condition for $3900. The sale includes the original lens hood, the original front lens cover, the rear cap, the lens trunk (carrying case), the instruction manual, the lens strap, the original shipping box with packing, a Really Right Stuff replacement foot #LCF-50-B, a Lens Coat, and insured shipping via Fed-Ex Ground.  Pictures available via email request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. 

Please contact Alan by e-mail or by phone at 408-267-5977 Pacific Time.

As regular readers know the “old five” was the world’s most popular super telephoto lens for many years. I owned and used one for more than a decade. Alan’s lens is priced to sell immediately. artie 


This image was created by Patrick Sparkman with the tripod-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the amazing Canon EOS 7D Mark II. ISO 800. Spot metering +2/3 stop: 1.3 seconds at f/4 in Av mode. White Balance: 4200K.

Patrick focused manually using Live View at 10X.

The recent super moon at the peak lunar eclipse point. Image courtesy of and copyright 2015: Patrick Sparkman.

Patrick Sparkman Does Spectacular Totality/And How!

I tried to photograph a total lunar eclipse with a long lens about six years ago. And failed miserably. The images depicting totality were underexposed, nowhere near sharp as Patrick’s image, and the colors were totally muddy. In short, Patrick’s image is spectacular.

How’d he do it?

How did Patrick get a sharp image at 1.3 seconds with the earth spinning at about 800 miles per hour? He mounted his rig on a motorized tracker that was mounted on his tripod. The Vixen Optics Polarie Star Tracker is designed to hold a maximum load of only 4.4 pounds. But with his engineering background, Patrick made it work in spectacular fashion. From Patrick: “You cannot get a sharp image at that shutter speed with 960mm of the equivalent focal length due to the earth’s rotation and the movement of the moon. The dots are stars that show up when the exposure is a long one. This image was created at 9/27/15 at 7:33 Pacific time in my backyard: 32.9215N, 117.0795W”

Patrick went with spot metering and Av mode for relatively consistent exposures as he was creating a series of images that he will use to create a composite of the eclipse. The best news is that he will be sharing that with us here at some point. Patrick says that a White Balance of K4200 is his favorite for night sky photography.

Thanks and congrats to Patrick on executing a brilliant plan and creating a wicked and captivating image. All comments on this wonderful photograph are welcome.

Personality Plus Hairdos

With their bright red bill pouches, orange eyeskins, and raggedy hairdos, Dalmatian Pelican is one of the world’s most photogenic bird species. Folks including us purchase live fish from the local boatman and have the pelicans come to us. It is rare that one or two Dalmatian Pelican images is not honored in one or more of the major photo contests in a given year. Do consider joining us in Greece for an amazing workshop.


Images copyright 2011: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Card design by Denise Ippolito.

Dalmatian Pelicans ~ Northern Greece
: A Creative Adventure/BIRDS AS ART Workshop/denise ippolito & arthur morris
. January 24th – 29th, 2016 ~ 5 Nights/ 4 Full days of photography: $2950. Limit: 6.

This trip is a go.

Photograph beautiful Dalmatian Pelicans in Greece. Our trip will be from January 24-29th, 2016. Our hotel accommodations are located fifteen minutes from Lake Kerkini. This is a huge plus as we will be able to take advantage of great light at a moment’s notice. This location is well known as the best location on the planet to photograph these beautiful, common, and extremely photogenic birds. And we will enjoy tons of flight photography. Though your 70-200 will be your very best friend, you will be able to use almost every lens in your gear bag. Wide angle shots, close portrait work, flight shots, creative blurs- you name it. Our expert guide knows the area like the back of his hand; he guides some of the most world renowned photographers.

There will be in-the-field instructional photography sessions each morning and afternoon from the shore and we will enjoy extended small boat sessions. Image review and post processing sessions will be informal; we will cover a ton of information during both our in-the-field and indoor session. With two great leaders that only thing that will limit your learning is a lack of stamina.

More than 100 pairs of Dalmatian Pelicans nest on specially constructed platforms on the lake. They remain at the lake during the winter. During our time in Greece the Pelicans will be in their brightest and most impressive breeding plumage. The birds hang around the local fisherman and in addition, we purchase live bait to bring the pelicans close. They are silly tame as they have been begging fish from the locals for many decades.

The groups of Dalmatian Pelicans are often accompanied by single Great White Pelicans, Pygmy Cormorants and Great Cormorants.

The price of this IPT IS $2950.00 per person USD, based on double occupancy; The single supplement is $360. The workshop fee includes hotel accommodations, WiFi, breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, round trip transfers from Thessaloniki Airport, all ground transportation during trip, boat fees and lots of fish.

Not included: Round trip airfare to Thessaloniki Airport, alcoholic beverages, personal items including but not limited to laundry, phone, or fax services.

This workshop is currently limited to 6 participants. A non-refundable deposit of $1000.00 is required to hold your spot for this workshop. Balances are are due on August 1st, 2015 and are also non-refundable. Payments in full are of course welcome at any time. All payments including the deposit must be made by check made out to “Arthur Morris.” Please be sure to check your calendar carefully. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. If your spot is filled, you will lose your deposit. If not, you can secure your spot by paying your balance.

Please note that even though we have secured a top notch guide this is somewhat of a scouting trip (as denise has never been). The price of next year’s trip will be considerably higher. There are only 2 slots open. This is an especially attractive deal for folks from Europe….

Please contact us via e-mail to check on availability or write with questions: artie or denise. All deposits and balances must be paid by personal check or money order made out to “Arthur Morris” and mailed to BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Overseas folks can, however, pay their deposits and balances by wire transfer; the registrant is responsible for the fees on both ends.

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. 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. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

We do hope that you can join us. artie and denise


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18 comments to Patrick Sparkman Does Spectacular Totality With the 7D Mark II. And How!

  • My blood moon shot is decent:
    … although not close to Patrick’s. I used the 7D Mark II with the 100-400 II–1/2 second, f/5.6 @ ISO 3200

  • avatar Gary Axten

    Could you not just focus at infinity?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Much better to do what Patrick did…. I believe that Infinity is too broad…. Why mess with success, or perfection? Heck, I have seen some of his full moon shots from that night; they are stunningly sharp too. a

  • Update on my 1dx. After working for a few days it would not power up again today. Nothing worked, so it’s off to Canon repair in New Jersey.

  • avatar Warren Robb

    I would like to add my congratulations to Mr. Sparkman for his excellent solution to a difficult problem. After failing miserably myself that evening, I realized that a motorized tracker would be essential to any hope for success under these conditions. Very nice work!

  • Excellent Patrick! The best I’ve seen!

  • avatar Stu

    Thanks very much for your speedy reply with the excellent news that you are considering offering a companion CD!
    Best wishes.

  • avatar Stu

    For those who cannot attend your exhibit or who want a memory-jogger, will there be a companion book or lavishly illustrated catalogue?
    Thanks very much, and best wishes.
    Also, thanks to Patrick Sparkman for sharing his work and details of his technique. Best wishes to him, too.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Stu, Right now I am seriously thinking of doing a companion CD, in part simply because there are so many great images that should be in the exhibit but have to be cut because of the 60- or 66-image space limit…. artie

  • I can’t believe this is not coordinated with your Brown Pelican Workshop in January 2016.

    Any way we can see you exhibit while we are out there?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Joe, It is, sort of. 🙂 We could not do the San Diego IPT after the exhibit opening as we need to get to Lake Kerkini, Greece for the (equally amazing) Dalmatian Pelican IPT. If you have the time, stick around San Diego for three more mornings on the cliffs with the pelicans and a few afternoons with the Wood Ducks. I have been photographing the Brown Pelicans for 32 years now and I never get enough of them. Heck, I am still trying for one great flight shot; I do have lots of very good ones though but have not gotten the one that I want…. IAC, you can stay three extra days–you will surely be seeing me on the cliffs most mornings–come to the slide show at the museum that Saturday morning, attend the opening that follows immediately, and then fly home either on a red-eye on Saturday night or early Sunday morning. I am not sure which I will be doing. a