Long-billed Dowitcher/Missed on Long Island but not in Phoenix! Sandpiper Photography Tips Part II « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Long-billed Dowitcher/Missed on Long Island but not in Phoenix! Sandpiper Photography Tips Part II

Stuff

Apologies to those who are patiently waiting to hear from me via e-mail. I have been very busy with physical therapy sessions and tons of exercising when I am not photographing; almost all of that involves blowing up balloons. Yes, blowing up balloons … I did get back to Gilbert Water Ranch this morning to find that the lake that was attracting lots of shorebirds had been filled to overflowing in less than a day. Goodbye mud, goodbye birds! There are plenty of other spots in the various lakes for the dowitchers and stilts and avocets to feed, but none are any good for photography.

Canon-Holiday

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$300 off on the Canon 100-400 II!

The Streak

Today makes one hundred sixty days in a row with a new educational blog post! This one took about an hour to prepare including the time spent optimizing the image. With all of my upcoming free time (or not …), the plan right now is to break the current record streak of 480 … Good health and good internet connections and my continuing insanity willing.

Booking.Com

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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

DPP-4-LBDOW

This image was created at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch in Phoenix, AZ on my first morning out. With my tripod lowered, I was seated behind the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my favorite shorebird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 2/3 stops: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB: K7500 at 4:28pm on a cloudy afternoon.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

One AF point above the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand shutter button focus was active at the moment of exposure. It is obvious from looking at the DPP 4 screen capture above that the left assist point caught and held focus on the bill. Too bad that Canon does not show us not the selected point and the active assist point or points.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

DPP 4 Screen Capture

The DPP 4 Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image

Note the perfect histogram with the light tones all the way to the right. Note that even though the RGB values, 240, 244, 250 showed a bit of a BLUE cast that I had moved the Color fine-tune dot toward BLUE. If I had moved the Color fine-tune dot away from BLUE and toward RED then the reflection would have been way too warm. As presented, the bird is a nice neutral gray.

Long-billed-Dowitcher-first-winter-_W5A5295-Gilbert-Water-Ranch,-Phoenix,-AZ

This image was created at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch in Phoenix, AZ on my first morning out. With my tripod lowered, I was seated behind the Induro GIT304L Grand Series 3 Stealth Carbon Fiber Tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, and my favorite shorebird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/200 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB: K7500 at 4:28pm on a cloudy afternoon.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -1.

One AF point above the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand shutter button focus was active at the moment of exposure. It is obvious from looking at the DPP 4 screen capture above that the left assist point caught and held focus on the bill. Too bad that Canon does not show us not the selected point and the active assist point or points.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

DPP 4 Screen Capture Long-billed Dowitcher, first winter foraging

Sandpiper Photography Tips Part II

Once a foraging bird is square to the back of the camera (or angled slightly toward you) and fills about half the frame, acquire focus and push and hold the shutter speed until the situation changes. When working at an intermediate shutter speed as I was with today’s image (1/200 sec.) some of the photos will be lost to motion blur and some will be sharp. Dowitchers and other species feed like sewing machines. Firing long bursts will usually yield a variety of sharp images, some with the head nearly underwater and the bill completely submerged, some with the bill completely out of the water, and many in between those two extremes. The only option in cloudy conditions is to go with two or three or more stops of ISO; the drawback there is an increase in noise and a decrease in image quality. I prefer to gamble a bit, blast away, and wind up with a few representative sharp images.

Image Questions

  • 1-Why is there a reddish cast to the bird’s reflection? (Note: if you look closely there is a clue …
  • 2-Why did I move the selected AF point up from the center?

More on Coming Soon

February 2018 Spoonbill Boat IPT (definite!)
Two Fort DeSoto IPTs (April and May, 2018)
Three Gatorland IPTs (March, April, and May, 2018 — including early entry and late stay — tentative)
Three Sandhill Crane chicks and colts Master Classes at Indian Lake Estates (March)

The Master Classes will be small groups — strictly limited to four photographers — with the first folks who register staying at my home and the others staying at a chain motel in Lake Wales. Live, think, and breathe photography from Friday afternoon through lunch on Monday morning; all meals included. We will enjoy three morning photography sessions with the main subjects being tame Sandhill Cranes almost surely with chicks or colts. Also vultures and Cattle Egrets and more. Limpkins possible. There will be three afternoon photo sessions with hopefully glorious sunsets like the ones you have been seeing on the blog recently. I will micro-adjust one of your lenses during a group instructional session and all will be welcome to practice what they have learned during the breaks using my lighting gear. We will sit together around my dining room table and pick everyone’s keepers, enjoy guided Photoshop sessions, and, on Monday before lunch, folks can make a single large print of their favorite image.

Folks who would like advance notice on any of the above are welcome to shoot me an e-mail. Right now there is lots of interest in all of the above offerings. Folks who have already e-mailed me will be receiving the first invites soon, starting with the Spoonbill IPT.

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Typos

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7 comments to Long-billed Dowitcher/Missed on Long Island but not in Phoenix! Sandpiper Photography Tips Part II

  • avatar Guido Bee

    WRT testing Nikon gear…. Tempting the Dark Side, we are?
    I’ll be interested in your comments and observations as you evaluate.
    After using a D-500 for a year (same processor and same AF module as the D-5) I still am not totally familiar with all the options of the menu system, but I seem to find what I need to use.
    Good luck with your PT, etc. in AZ. Nice shot of the dowitcher and thanks for all your efforts in the blog.
    Guido

  • avatar Larry Brown

    Would the fact that you had K set to 7500 account for the reddish color?

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    1-Why is there a reddish cast to the bird’s reflection? Is the substrate under the water warm colored sand?
    2-Why did I move the selected AF point up from the center? In order to get the whole reflection in?

  • avatar Adam

    Beautiful image with an ethereal quality. Did you have to clean up any debris from the water? I’m working on a photo which evokes a similar feel but it unfortunately has a lot of cleanup to do.

    I found your comments about Nikon very interesting.

  • This is a peach of a Image of a shore bird in winter plumage, I think I don’t like it ” I love it ”

    Love and best

    Kel

    UK

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    My observation re AF.

    I have verified numerous times that a spot focus point on the exact correct location, or one that displays after the fact away from where focus actually occurred does not prove very much. With high speed bursts I often have the focus point dead on and yet lack focus.

    Most likely it is simply the point that was active last, and there may not have been sufficient time for the lens to have readjusted focus. In other words (with my 1DX2) I get what you have here often and I’m not using expansion modes in such cases.

    For me it’s common when hand holding a long lens, to wander off as the burst is proceeding but the servo system is not that fast. Canon won’t state how long a refocus typically takes perhaps because it would be dependent on many factors, including the sensitivity of the various points based on how close to the center they are (dead center is most accurate/sensitive), the case settings, etc. It also would be struggling big time if it was attempting to focus off the water so it would make sense that it would simply hold onto the last good/easy focus. Now if you were on a tripod and absolutely rock solid and the bird never moved a mm then perhaps I’m off base with my comment. I also wish that the expansion points would light up; I believe they did with the 1D4.

    Jack

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Jack, Thanks for commenting. I pretty much agree with everything that you said above. And yes, as I say constantly, there are too many varying parameters to know anything about the Canon AF system for sure. That is one reason why I will soon be trying out some Nikon gear soon including the Nikon D5 DSLR Camera (Body Only, Dual XQD Slots) and the almost impossible to get right now Nikon D850 DSLR Camera (Body Only) … Please do note that today is not April 1st.

      I was on a very mud-solid tripod 🙂 But your reasoning still makes perfect sense.

      with love, artie