Wow. It rained all night and was raining at 5am. At 5:30am I got in touch with everyone in the group and let them know, rolling at 7:00am. We got to the cliffs just as the rain stopped and enjoyed three hours of fabulous Brown Pelican photography. Twice there were more than 100 pelicans on the cliffs. Oh, and we had an hour-long session with a lady Peregrine Falcon. Then we enjoyed our third consecutive great lunch at Islands on Balboa. Great burgers, incredible onion rings (God forgive me …), and my very favorite, Cabo Loco: seasoned grilled pork w/caramelized onions, stuffed into corn tortillas w/onions, salsa, and guacamole! Islands is a chain; there are several in San Diego. The one on Balboa is closest to the IPT hotel and the wait staff is as pleasant and efficient as you will find anywhere.
After a short break, we headed to one of my favorite San Diego beaches and enjoyed some of the most spectacular late light I have ever seen … Photo soon.
Some great news: three folks have already up signed up for the DEC 2018/JAN 2019 Falklands Land-based IPT so there are just four spots left. Learn more here.
Gear Questions and Advice
Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks whom I see in the field, and on BPN, are–out of ignorance–using the wrong gear, especially when it comes to tripods and more especially, tripod heads… Please know that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.
The Streak: 428!
Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 428 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great job recently–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the new BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.
You Can’t Win if You Don’t Buy a Ticket …
The little old Jewish man went to temple every Shabbos. Every week he prayed and in his prayers he included, “Dear God, I’ve been a good Jew all my life. And so has my wife. We keep a Kosher home and observe the Sabbath and all of the holidays. Please, please let me win the lottery.” For seven more weeks, he said the same thing, “Dear God, I’ve been a good Jew for all my life. And so has my wife. We keep a Kosher home and observe the sabbath and all of the holidays. Please, please let me win the lottery.” But on the eight week he added, “It’s worth $30 million this week.” A clap of deafening thunder sounded and lightning struck the roof of the synagogue. A loud gravelly but loving voice called out, “So at least buy a ticket.”
DPP 4 Screen Capture
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The DPP 4 Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image
What’s to learn? Note the pretty much perfect histogram; the RGB values for the sky were in the high 240s. Exposing far to the right is the best way to control high ISO noise. I used the Clone Stamp Tool around the edges of the extraneous pelicans and then eliminated them completely with the Patch Tool.
This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/640 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.
Center AF point/AI Servo (Manual selection)/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell on the middle of the bird’s bill.
Brown Pelican (Pacific race) braking to land
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You Can’t Win if You Don’t Buy a Ticket …
One of the San Diego IPT participants called out “Incoming left!” I raised my 100-400 II and executed an estimated zoom out as I knew that the bird would be much too big in the frame at 400mm. I knew also that the chances of having a clear shot at the bird were slim to none. With film, I surely would have passed on the opportunity. With digital however, it does not cost you a penny to try in nearly impossible situations. So I tried by firing off two frames as the bird landed. In the first, I clipped one wing badly. With the “orchestra conductor pose” image featured in today’s blog, I got lucky as the subject did not merge with any of the extra pelicans. You might say that I won the lottery …
Cliffs or No Cliffs?
Please leave a comment and let us know if you feel that the out-of-focus cliffs in the background add to the image or if you feel that they are a distraction.
Flight Photography Tip
Many bird photographers state emphatically that you need a shutter speed of at least 1/1600 second when photographing birds in flight. I am fine at 1/500 second or faster. What do you think?
DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.
Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.
I will be offering small group (Limit 3) Photoshop sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning if necessary. Details on that TBA.
Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.
We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.
DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.
What You Will Learn
You will learn 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 understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, 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 how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).
The group will be staying at the Red Roof Inn, St. Petersburg: 4999 34th St. North, St Petersburg, FL 33714. The place is clean and quite inexpensive. Please e-mail for room block information. And please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.
BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99
Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of April 22, 2017: $99
Join me on the morning of April 22, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.
You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.
To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.
Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂
To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.
As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.
I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.
Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.
In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).