I am putting the finishing touches on this blog post while at the gate for my flight home on Thursday afternoon, Islip to Orlando. Had a nice visit with my Mom and with my younger daughter and two with Dr. Dan Holland at True Sports Care in Nesconset.
Great Galapagos IPT News
With two folks signed up for the August 2017 Galapagos trip there is now just one opening for a single male on the world’s greatest photographic trip to the archipelago, almost surely my last. I could squeeze in a desperate couple …
The Learning Never Stops …
In the recent Using Tv Mode to Attain a Minimum Shutter Speed. ISO Quiz, and Pushing the Limits … blog post here, nobody has yet come up with the ISO that I used for the hummer image. Are the guesses too high? Too low? Who knows? Do consider chiming in. In addition, there have been lots of comments on the use of Manual mode with Auto ISO and EC …
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: 440
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, 440 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–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 BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.
This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mountedCanon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my favorite bird photography camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops as framed: 1/400 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. AWB.
Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Rear Focus AF on the bird’s eye and re-compose. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.
FocusTune/LensAlign Micro Adjustment: +2
Image #1: high key Black Turnstone
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About Light …
Image #1 was made in heavy overcast conditions. Image #2 was made at 9:30am on a sunny day, but there were light clouds softening the light so the shadows were faint. Compare with Image #1 in the first Learning About Light blog post here. In that image, the sun was out at full strength on a blue sky day. At 10:30am.
Which Light is Better?
Do you prefer the light in Image #1 or the light in Image #2? Either way, please let us know why.
Which of today’s featured image is the strongest? Whether you like #1 or #2 best, let us know why you made your choice.
I was seated comfortably on a foot-high rock shelf when this bird came to rest. But getting low is not always the best choice; you actually need to look and think. Before I even made a single image I knew that I needed to get up and shoot with the lens about four feet up. Why?
Rear Focus and Re-Compose Question
Why was it pretty much imperative to be on a tripod for the creation of Image #1?
This image was created at La Jolla, CA with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm) with my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.
LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +5.
Center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF. The selected AF point fell nicely on the side of the bird’s lower breast, pretty much on the same plane as the bird’s eye. Selection of the AF point, choice of the AF Area Selection Mode, and placement of the selected point — all as determined by the photographer in milliseconds — are instrumental when it comes to creating consistently sharp images. Well, not really milliseconds. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.
Image #2: Black Turnstone
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Head angle is dependent on the bird’s posture and on the orientation of the bird’s body to the imaging sensor — aka the back of the camera. When the the bird facing us there are two very good head angles: staring straight down the lens barrel and looking 90 degrees to one side or the other, in other words, perfectly parallel to the imaging sensor. Again. For me, the head angle with image #1 is perfect.
When the bird is parallel to the imaging sensor, the very best head angle is usually when the bird’s head is turned one to three degrees toward us. I prefer that by far to having the bird’s head perfectly parallel to the back of the camera, again, when the bird is parallel to the back of the camera.
The best way to learn about head angle is to visit the Head Angle Fine Points thread on BirdPhotographers.Net by clicking here. It is a long post so grab some pretzels and a beer (or a healthier snack) if you really want to learn.
Selecting the Right AF Settings
As not everyone reads the educational image captions — a very big mistake as far as I am concerned BTW — I have cut and pasted this from the caption for Image #2:
Selection of the AF point, choice of the AF Area Selection Mode, and placement of the selected point — all as determined by the photographer in milliseconds — are instrumental when it comes to creating consistently sharp images. Well, not really milliseconds.
To start, I am constantly changing the location of my selected AF point. And by that I mean a lot, often every few seconds as the subject is moving or changing its position (as with preening pelicans for sure). I generally choose my AF Area Selection mode based on the situation, but may change is as the situation changes. One of the things that I love about the last few generations of Canon camera bodies is that you can set one AF point along with an AF Area Selection mode when working horizontally, and another AF point with the same or a different AF Area Selection mode when working vertically. As long as you have enabled the AF Point Orientation item on the menu the system will know whether you are working horizontally or vertically and remember the AF setting.
You select the AF point and the AF Area Selection mode based on your educated guess as to where on the subject you will be placing the selected AF point.
If you simply set and use the center AF point for all of your bird photography you have a lot to work on.
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.
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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 :).