Gifts from the Universe on My Last Morning Walk … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Gifts from the Universe on My Last Morning Walk ...

What’s Up?

Patrick Sparkman and I celebrated the day after St. Patrick’s Day by photographing all morning at La Jolla. The main pelican cliffs are presently closed. Again, we had a great time working with the nesting Brandt’s Cormorants for several hours and Patrick shared a reliable and gorgeous male Anna’s Hummingbird that he had found the week before with me.


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: 3!

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, 3 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.

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This image was created at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa with the hand held Canon 24-105mm f/4L zoom lens (at 70mm) now replaced by the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM zoom lens and my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/1000 sec. at f/11 in Av mode was still about 2/3 stop under. AWB.

Center AF point (Manual selection/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell on the tip of the letter Y.

Image #1: Ojai Valley Inn and Spa Entrance

Gifts from the Universe on My Last Morning Walk …

Each morning while I was at Ojai I took a walk. As the days went by, I found myself walking slower and slower …

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This image was created at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400m) and my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/80 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode was about a stop under. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +3.

Lower Large Zone/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system activated three AF points that fell on the stem.

Image #2: Vine on plaster wall

Seeing the Vine for the First Time

This vine called to me the first time I walked by it. It grew on the wall of the cafe that was between the hotel lobby building and the building where our group sessions were held. It said, “See my simple but beautiful pattern; please photograph me.” Photography was not permitted until the last morning of the nine-day school. As most of you know, I turned off my computer for eight days, never once getting online. I never turned on the TV. Meals and the morning walks were all in silence. I did not read a book to fall asleep. None of that is like me at all.

I shared the beauty of this elegant plant with many others in the group, usually by pointing to it.

One of the issues that I worked hard on at The School for the Work was my seeing myself as too judgmental. The vine wound up helping me there.

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This image was created at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 116mm) and my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode was about a stop under. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +3.

CenterLarge Zone/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The system activated four AF points dead center as framed.

Image #3: Dead vine on plaster wall

The Dead Vine

Though the dead vine was on the wall of the hotel lobby building and I walked by it several times each day, I did not notice the lovely patterns it made at first. I photographed it in the early morning shade.

Image Questions

Why did I stop down to f/9 for Images #2 and #3?

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This image was created at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering -1 2/3 stops: 1/2000 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

One AF point to the right and one up from the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell near the top of the skinny, vertical orange triangle.

Image #4: Backlit Bird of Paradise blossom

Change of Plans

After I shot the Spa writing on the wall and the two vines, alive and dead, I hustled up the hill to my room in the historic Wallace Neff building. Just as I opened the door I looked behind me and saw that many of the Bird of Paradise blossoms were beautifully backlit. I vacillated: if I stopped to photograph the backlit flowers I would miss my last morning walk … I did not vacillate for long. I had to lean forward over the railing in order to fill the frame. I took only a few tight verticals and even fewer horizontals that included the entire flower. This frame was my favorite by far.

Dark0eyed-Junco-singing

These images were created at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens and my very favorite camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 1/3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 in Av mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

Two AF points up from the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell on the spot where the hood meets the back of the neck. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Oregon Junco, singing adult gently backlit

The Gift from the Universe

I had seen a few juncos on my various walks and had no hope of getting a good image of this small, flighty species. As I was photographing the backlit blossoms, I noticed the bird in the Image #4 in a small willow tree just above me. As it was directly backlit by the already bright sun, there was no chance to make a good image. And the same was true when it landed on the lawn. The next thing I know the bird had disappeared. I looked around and was surprised to see that it had landed on the nose of one of the two horse statues in front of the Wallace Neff building. The very best news was that the statue was in the shade of a building to just to the east. I raised the ISO, set the exposure, and approached slowly. Amazingly, the bird continue to sing as I got closer and closer. I would imagine that I was well within six feet when I created this image (presented full frame above).

You do not often have a chance to photograph such a small songbird at close range. And it was great that the statue perch looked like a colorful rock. To me the whole thing was a complete miracle. Thank you universe.

Even Better?

There were lots of House and White-crowned Sparrows on the lawns of the campus. Along with a very few juncos. Most days there was a House Sparrow or two flitting around the seminar room. When I saw a small songbird in the room during our last session, I assumed it was just a House Sparrow. But when it flew by me it flashed its white outer tail feathers. It was clearly a junco. I was left wondering if it was my junco.

At that last session I learned that that morning’s walk had been switched to a personal “walk.” I had really enjoyed mine.

Your Favorites?

Which of the two vine images do you like best? Be sure to let us know why.

Which of today’s five featured images do you like best? Be sure to let us know why.


fort-desoto-card

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/Openings 4. 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.


fort-desoto-card-b

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 Sunday, April 23, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of Sunday April 23, 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.



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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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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 :).

11 comments to Gifts from the Universe on My Last Morning Walk …

  • avatar Tony Z

    Gosh i really love that Junko image! Really fantastic.
    T

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Thanks for this post. I like the plant images; they have a peacefulness about them that’s appealing. I think my favorite is the flaming bird of paradise, but I like the dead vine a lot as well. And the junco. I’d guess you used f/9 for the vines because the edges were farther away from your sensor than the middle (for those who don’t see this, just draw it and think about the geometry), and so you wanted more depth of field. I probably wouldn’t have thought of that, so thanks for that tip, too.

    Interesting that you were working on being less judgmental. That’s complicated, because if you’re not judgmental with respect to your own work–you obviously are–then your work suffers. If you’re not judgmental of others’ work, then how do you teach–or learn, for that matter? But my parents were two of the most judgmental people I ever met, and it made their lives and mine unnecessarily difficult. I’d love to hear about your work on being less judgmental.

    • avatar David Policansky

      I didn’t say why. I love the dead vine for its intricacy and detail; it keeps me looking at it again and again, and is more interesting to me than the living vine, which also is a lovely image. I just love the flaming color of the bird of paradise and the wonderful detail all emphasized by the dark background. The junco is perfect in every respect; composition, lighting, color, background, and that it’s singing. By the way, you used f/11 for the image of the inn’s name, I assume also for the same reason that you used f/9 for the vines, but you had much more light and so could go to f/11 at ISO 400 and still be at 1/1000. You already were at ISO 1600 for the vine images and your shutter speed already was getting low.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      My judgmental problem has to do with judging others not their work. More on this in a bit 🙂

      later and love, artie

  • Arthur,
    I read the blog occasionally and rarely reply so this is an exception. Which image is my favorite may not be important. What matters to me is to approach photography from a perspective of thankfulness. You touched on this and that’s what counts. Many great writers have taught that we see with our hearts more than with our eyes. In that regard, right on.
    John Gill
    http://www.johngillphoto.com

  • avatar Nancy Rodda ( Nancy-9! )

    The bird of paradise picture is so unusual and shows the flower from a different perspective. And I love that it’s a “bird”. I saw you photographing it on my walk that day.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Nancy, How wonderful that you commented. The School was mega life-changing for me. Hope to see you on the FB page. If you know anyone looking for an aftercare partner for weeks 4-7 send them my way. later and much love, artie

  • avatar Peter Noyes

    changes. In the second and third picture is listed as a plus three and then in the last two pictures is listed as a minus one. What am I missing?

  • Hi Artie ,
    As David said , I to love the green vine best , thats me love color ,no prejudgment, you see I have learnt too ,lol, I was wondering why would you go for the 5d Mk iv over the 5D S-R ? , is it all down to the difference in shutter speed and the huge file size ? ,
    Have a peaceful Sunday .
    Charlie

  • avatar David Peake

    Hi Artie.
    If all of creation can make a declaration then it makes sense that a vine on the wall would have something to say to one who is listening. If a donkey can speak and some stones, then why not a vine? I like the green vine image best. Where there is life there is hope.
    D