Subject to Sensor-Plane Orientation Considerations. And a High Level Question on Choosing Your Perspective Carefully. « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Subject to Sensor-Plane Orientation Considerations. And a High Level Question on Choosing Your Perspective Carefully.


On Tuesday I had a lunch appointment at noon with my tax guy in Lakeland. Before and after that it was back to business as usual: answering e-mails and doing blog posts. And a swim and lots of exercise. I was glad to learn that the sale of Stephen November’s Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender in near-mint condition for $8399 was finalized.

With only a single slot open on the San Diego IPT, I decided to add a second San Diego IPT — shorter and less expensive. See the announcement in yesterday’s blog post here.


birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100
The companion e-book to the solo exhibit at TheNat, San Diego, California

birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100

The e-book on CD is available for $20 on CD here or via download here. Studying great images is the best way to learn to improve your bird photography (he said modestly).

Least Tern chick with the 800 f/5.6, the 1.4X II TC, and the 1D Mark IV.

A sample page from the Top 100 e-book.

The Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS was one of my very favorite super-telephoto lenses. In the original The Art of Bird Photography I advised that it is generally better to choose a longer faster lens over a shorter, slower one …

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Lens

Steve Cashell is offering a Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM lens in near-mint condition for a very low $8399. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the E-180C front lens cover, the lens trunk with both keys, a Really Right Stuff LCF-51 lens foot, a Camo LensCoat, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only.

Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Steve via e-mail or by phone at 1-734-693-4242 (Eastern time).

I owned and used the super-sharp 800mm f/5.6, often with a 1.4X TC, as my go-to super-telephoto lens for almost five years. If you work with birds that are tough to approach and have trouble making sharp images with the 2X III TC, this lens should have your name on it. The 800/5.6 is great from the car or from a blind. I was astounded when I counted to learn that 15 of the 67 images in my San Diego exhibit were created with my 800 … Note that the 800 and a 7D Mark II get you out to 1280mm. Add the 1.4X III TC and you wind up at 1792mm, almost 36X … They 800s sell new right now for $12,999 from B&H. B&H has a used one in similar condition for the insanely high price of $9,499.95. That gives you a choice: save $4,600 off the cost of a new one or $1,100.95 off the price of a used one … artie

2017 in San Diego was a very good year ….

2018 San Diego 3 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART IPT #2: Sunday, JAN 28 thru and including a morning session on Wednesday, JAN 31, 2018: 3 1/2 days: $1699.
Limit: 8: Openings: 8

Meet and Greet at 6:30pm on the evening before the IPT begins; Saturday, Jan 27, 2018.

San Diego IPT #2: Shorter and Less Expensive!

Please remember: I go with one.

Click here for details.

The Streak

Today makes seventy-six days in a row with a new educational blog post! This blog post took less than an hour to prepare. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of (I think) four hundred eighty something … Good health and good internet connections willing.


Booking.Com came through for me twice again recently with both the DeSoto Fall IPT and next July’s UK Puffins, Gannets, and Bempton Pre-trip room reservations. And all the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

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.

This image was created on the 2017 San Diego IPT with the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my favorite pelican photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering -1/3 stop: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

One AF point to the left and two rows up from the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was just behind the bird’s eye.

Winter plumage California Gull yawning

Please click on the image to enjoy a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Subject to Sensor-Plane Orientation Considerations

One of the first things that I consider when evaluating a situation is the subject to sensor-plane orientation. Ideal is having the bird perfectly parallel to the back of the camera. On sunny days, the subject to sensor-plane orientation will largely be determined by the wind. If the sun is in the east and the wind is from the north or south the bird will almost always be just right: 90 degrees to the light. Simply get on sun angle and the subject to sensor-plane orientation will be perfect. If the sun is out and behind you and the wind is in your face you will be shooting up the bird’s butt; i.e., not good! On cloudy days it is much easier to get the bird square to the back of your camera simply by changing your position. Understand, however, that on cloudy, somewhat bright days the light will still have direction … When both the light and the wind are behind you the subject will, to varying degrees, be facing you. Best is head-on, dead-on with the subject looking right down the lens barrel. Think getting close and making verticals in those situations. When the bird is angled toward you it is easy to create awkward compositions so be sure to consider the light and your perspective carefully when designing your images.

At times, when the light is relatively soft, a good strategy may be to to work slightly off sun angle — usually no more than 15 degrees for me, so that you can work with the bird perfectly parallel to the back of the camera.

A High Level Question on Choosing Your Perspective Carefully …

For today’s featured image the gull was angled slightly towards me; i.e., the head of the bird is a bit closer to me than the tail. Why didn’t I move a yard to my right to square the bird up perfectly?

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.

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.

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.


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 :).

17 comments to Subject to Sensor-Plane Orientation Considerations. And a High Level Question on Choosing Your Perspective Carefully.

  • avatar byron prinzmetal

    To me the bird’s head and beak are the subject of the image and they are what you want your viewers eyes to go to. If you moved to your right, the head/beak would appear smaller and somewhat farther away and the tail closer, which to me is not what you want. Plus focusing on the head/beak makes the focus on the tail somewhat less which is what one wants….bp

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Byron, You are reaching and have missed my main point … Thanks for trying. My answer soon.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Warren H

    I thought you didn’t move because you would have rather stayed on sun angle. Then wait to catch the right head angle.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      No. The light was so soft and filtered that it was not a problem at all. Notice: no shadows …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Jake

    Hi Artie, I think the reasons that you did not move are: the head angle was just right, you would have lost the band of rust orange behind the head. The least tern chick says in green that it is taken with the 5div (typo?) and in the small text it says it was the 1div?

  • avatar todd bendt


    Does it have to do with the background colors complimenting the colors on the bird? To explain further…You have a dark band of background color accenting the darker tail feathers on the bird. You also have an orange band of background color that complements the head feathers and the orange on the bill. If you moved to the right these background colors would not align with the colors on the bird.


  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Open beak detail is interesting.


  • avatar Muhammad Arif

    Artie, the links to the ebook The Top 100 points to the old URL ( and generates an error.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie: I can think of two reasons you didn’t move. 1. The head angle was perfect as you shot it. 2. There might have been something bad about the background if you’d moved.

  • Hi Artie,
    Your reference to your advice in ABP is typo’d, I’m sure you meant: choose a longer slower lens over a shorter faster one. That’s right isn’t it?

  • avatar Richard


    Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 255mm) ???