I Succumbed to the Speed… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

I Succumbed to the Speed...

What’s Up?

With no pack ice anywhere near Rausu we took a small gamble on Thursday, made the long drive, and were rewarded with 90 minutes of non-stop action on Stellar’s and White-tailed Sea flight photography. We had Korean barbecue for lunch on the way home and then a most special dinner: Okonomiyaki prepared by our Japanese guide’s young woman assistant.Nameko is quite talented; she is a budding photographer, a skilled interpreter and translator, a great chef, a naturalist guide, and an all around helper. And everything is done with a smile.

The Streak

Today’s blog post marks 108 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated.

Selling Your Used 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. Even the prices on the new 600 II and the 200-400 with Internal Extender have been plummeting. You can see all current listings by clicking here or by clicking on the Used Photo Gear tab on the right side of the yellow-orange menu bar above.

New Listings

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Record-Low BAA Price: $1599

Ted Krug is offering a used Canon EOS 5D Mark III dSLR in excellent condition for the record low BAA price of $1599. The sale includes the strap, the battery, the body cap, 2 CDs and the manual, 2 connecting cables, the original shipping and product boxes, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Ted via e-mail

I have used the 5D III for birds on occasion with excellent results, even with the 2X III TC and the 600 II. It has long been my go-to dSLR for flowers, landscapes, and Urbex photography. In my experience, the quality of the image files is second only to those from the 5DS R. artie

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS Lens

Asta Tobiassen is offering a used original Canon 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 in very good condition (just a few areas of normal wear) for $599. The sale includes original box, carrying case with strap, front and rear caps, manual and hood. It will ship insured via UPS Ground (included) I will also offer to include a used Canon 7D for an addition $250. The camera is in great condition, but the battery level does not communicate with the camera. To make up for that also included are 4 batteries and a battery charger. The original box, strap, and manual with a Really Right Stuff L plate are also included. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Asta by e-mail at ­­­­­­­­e-mail or by phone at 253-691-2259 (Pacific time).

Asta’s combo deal would make a great starter kit for anyone interested in bird or nature photography. artie

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens

Karl Zuzarte is offering a used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR lens in excellent condition for the BAA record low price of $6695. The sale includes a LensCoat, and all of the original accessories including the front lens lens cover, a second party plastic front lens cover, the LF-4 rear lens cap, the HK-35 lens hood, the CT-607 trunk (hard carrying case), the LN-1 lens Strap, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Karl by e-mail or by phone at 508-873-6081 (Eastern time).

The 600 f/4 lenses are ideal for those who do birds and wildlife. This older version of the Nikon 600 weighs 11.16 lbs. It is still in production and sells new at B&H for $9,394.00. The newer lighter version, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens (designated by “E” rather than “G” after the f/4) weighs 8.4 pounds but costs $12,296.95. Thus, Karl’s lens is a great buy for someone young and relatively strong who would like to save either $1,395.00 or $4297.95, depending on how you look at it. artie

Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S ED IF Lens

Karl Zuzarte is also offering Nikon 300mm f/4 AF-S ED IF lens in excellent condition for $699. The sale includes the original box and lens bag, the front and rear caps, and insured shipping via UPS Ground. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Karl by e-mail or by phone at 508-873-6081 (Eastern time)

Canon Tilt Shift TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Lens

Ned Therrien is offering a used Canon Tilt Shift TS-E 90mm f/2.8 lens in mint condition for $699. This sale includes the rear lens cap, the soft pouch carrying case, and the Canon Tilt Shift manual, and insured ground shipping via Fed-Ex. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangement are made.

Please contact Ned via e-mail or by phone at 603-524-6274 (Eastern time).


This image was created at the Akan Crane Center in Hokkaido on the Japan in Winter IPT with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400: 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

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 selected AF point was on the base of the bird’s left wing. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Red-crowned Crane in flight against dark blue sky

I Succumbed to the Speed…

I used the 400 DO II/1.4X III/5DS R combo for our first crane/raptor feeding session at the Akan Crane Center. For our second session I went to the 400 DO II/1.4X III/1D X for the faster frame rate and the increased speed of initial AF acquisition, the latter again the result of the more powerful battery of the 1D X. We enjoyed what was for Denise and me our best-ever day of crane flight photography at Akan. Just as we arrived the cranes began spiraling down from the heavens by the dozen. This went on for more than 30 minutes. We coached the group on exposure and then everyone had at it with great results. With the wind and the sun right at our backs and the snow acting as a giant reflector to light up the undersides of the cranes it was about as easy as flight photography is ever gonna be.

Today’s Exposure

As noted here often, my recommended ISO 400 full sun exposure for bright white subjects is 1/2500 sec. at f/8. This will vary depending on the season and the height of the sun, whether or not you are using Highlight Tone Priority (HTP), and several other factors as well. Only those doing their RAW conversions in DPP 4 should have HTP enabled as only DPP 4 recognizes it. If enable HTP and convert in ACR you may very well wind up over-exposing your bright whites. IAC it is always the photographer’s responsibility to check the histogram and check for blinkies after making a test exposure or two and then making adjustments as needed.

As the sun is low in the sky even at 12:30pm in Japan in winter I went 1/3 stop lighter than 1/2500 sec. at f/8. 1/2500 sec. at f/8 is equivalent to 1/5000 sec. at f/5.6 so 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 is 1/3 stop lighter than the guideline ISO 400 bright whites in full sun exposure. The histogram looked good and I hd no blinkies so I went with 1/4000 sec. at f/5.6 but that was in fact 2/3 stop too dark. I moved the Brightness slider .33 to the right during the DPP 4 RA conversion. This brought the RGB values for the sunlit whites on the leading edge of the wings into the low 230s, just where I like them.

Exposure Question

Why was the sky in the original RAW file rendered such a dark, dark blue? Note: to lighten the sky I moved the Shadow slider to +5 during the RAW conversion in DPP 4; this lighter sky is reflected in the Original (TIFF) in the animated GIF below.

The Animated GIF

I moved the bird down in the frame using the one of the simplest of APTATS II tutorials. Total time: one minute.


Learn the details of advanced Quick Masking techniques in APTATS I. Learn Advanced Layer Masking Techniques in APTATS I. Order both and save $15 in the BAA Online Store here.


Consider joining me in Japan in February, 2017, for the world’s best Japan in Winter workshop. Click on the card to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Japan In Winter IPT. February 9-24, 2017: $13,999/double occupancy.

All lodging including the Tokyo hotel on 9 FEB, all breakfasts & dinners, ground transport and transfers including bus to the monkey park hotel, and all entrance fees and in-country flights are included. Not included: international flights, all lunches–most are on the run, and alcoholic beverages.

Please e-mail for couple and IPT repeat customer discount information.

This trip is one day longer than the great 2014 trip to allow for more flexibility, more time with the cranes, and most importantly, more time for landscape photography. Hokkaido is gorgeous. You will enjoy tons of pre-trip planning and gear advice, in-the-field instruction and guidance, at-the-lodge Photoshop and image review sessions in addition to short introductory slide programs for each of the amazing locations. Skilled photographer Paul McKenzie handles the logistics and we enjoy the services of Japan’s best wildlife photography guide whom I affectionately call “Hokkaido Bear.” His network of local contacts and his knowledge of the weather, the area, and the birds enables him to have us in the best location every day.


Amazing subjects. Beautiful settings. Nonstop action and unlimited opportunities. Join me.

The Logistics

Arrive Tokyo: 9 FEB 2017 the latest. 8 FEB is safer and gives you a day to get acclimated to the time change. Your hotel room for the night of the 9th is covered.

Bus Travel to Monkey Park Hotel: 10 FEB: A 1/2 DAY of monkey photography is likely depending on our travel time… This traditional hotel is first class all the way. Out stay includes three ten course Japanese dinners these sumptuous meals will astound you and delight your taste buds. There are many traditional hot baths (onsens) on site in this 150 year old hotel.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 11.

Full Day snow monkeys: FEB 12.

13 FEB: Full travel day to Hokkaido/arrive at our lodge in the late afternoon. The lodge is wonderful. All the rooms at the lodge have beds. Bring your warm pajamas. A local onsen (hot springs bath and tubs) is available for $5 each day before dinner–when you are cold, it is the best thing since sliced bread. The home-cooked Japanese styles meals at the lodge are to die for. What’s the best news? Only a small stand of woods separates us from the very best crane sanctuary. During one big snowstorm we were the only photo group to be able to get to Tsurui Ito; we had the whole place to ourselves in perfect conditions for crane photography!

FEB 14-23: Red-crowned Crane, raptors in flight, Whooper Swans, and scenic photography. Ural Owl possible. One 2-night trip to Rausu for Steller’s and White Tailed Sea Eagles on the tourists boats is 100% dependent weather, road, and sea ice conditions. Only our trip offers complete flexibility in this area. It has saved us on more than once occasion. An afternoon of duck photography in the harbor at Rausu is a strong possibility. The cost of 3 eagle-boat trips is included. If the group would like to do more than three boat trips and we all agree, there will be an additional charge for the extra trip or trips. Do understand that few if any tours offer at least one afternoon boat trip….

Lodging notes: bring your long johns for sleeping in the lodge. In Rausu and at the Snow Monkey Park, the hotel the rooms are Japanese-style. You sleep on comfortable mats on the floor. Wi-fi is available every day of the trip.

FEB 24. Fly back to Tokyo for transfer to your airport if you are flying home that night, or, to your hotel if you are overnighting. If you need to overnight, the cost of that room is on you.


Life is short. Hop on the merry-go-round.

To Sign Up

To save your spot, please send your $5,000 non-refundable deposit check made out to “Birds as Art” to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. I do hope that you can join me for this trip of a lifetime. Do e-mail with any questions or give me a buzz at 863-692-0906.

Purchasing travel insurance within 2 weeks of our cashing your deposit check is strongly recommended. On two fairly recent Galapagos cruises a total of 5 folks were forced to cancel less than one week prior to the trip. My family and I use Travel Insurance Services and strongly recommend that you do the same.

Please Remember to use our Affiliate Links 🙂

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 BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod heads, Gitzo tripods, Wimberley heads and plates, LensCoats and accessories, 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.


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

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