1200mm + Fill Flash = Just Ducky Perfection! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

1200mm + Fill Flash = Just Ducky Perfection!

Stuff

Bryan Holliday and I had a great day starting with a wicked sunrise and some great duck photography at the Riparian Preserve at Gilbert Water Ranch where the ducks were so cooperative on the still water with gorgeous reflections that we thought that a hunter had put out a raft of decoys. After lunch we continued to enjoy the bright overcast conditions at Freestone Park where I made today’s featured images of a handsome duck that has long eluded me. Thanks to the several folks who suggested Freestone for Canvasbacks!

I am still far behind on e-mails. Please bear with me; you should hear from me by late Monday at the worst.

Canon-Holiday

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$300 off on the Canon 100-400 II!

The Streak

Today makes one hundred sixty-one 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.

DPP4-canv

This image was created at Freestone Park in Phoenix, AZ on the afternoon of Saturday, January 6. I was seated behind my lowered tripod using 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 2X III, and my favorite duck photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering about 1 1/3 stops: 1/200 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. AWB: at 3:59pm on a cloudy afternoon.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -10.

One AF point above the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was placed squarely on the duck’s neck right on the same plane as its eye. Click on the image to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Fill flash at -1 stop with the fabulous Godox VING V860IIC TTL Li-Ion Flash Kit for Canon Cameras with a Better Beamer FX-6 Flash Extender.

DPP 4 Screen Capture

The DPP 4 Screen Capture for Today’s Featured Image

Note that the original was a bit under-exposed; I added 1/3 stop of light during the RAW conversion in DPP 4 by moving the Brightness slider to +0.33. And even though the flash brightened the canny’s brick red head nicely moving the Shadow slider to +4 really brought it to life without bringing up the noise. That is a huge plus to DPP 4 conversions. All that I did with the TIFF in Photoshop was some Digital Eye Doctor work on the pupil.

I will be sharing lots more info on the Godox flash for Canon in the near future; briefly it costs only a fraction of the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT but is every bit as good with a great rechargeable battery. And, I will teach you how to set fill simply in ETTL mode.

Canvasback-drake-swimming-_W5A5876-Phoenix,-AZ

This image was created at Freestone Park in Phoenix, AZ on the afternoon of Saturday, January 6. I was seated behind my lowered tripod lowered using 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 2X III, and my favorite duck photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering about 1 1/3 stops: 1/200 sec. at f/10 in Manual mode. AWB: at 3:59pm on a cloudy afternoon.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -10.

One AF point above the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was placed squarely on the duck’s neck right on the same plane as its eye. Click on the image to enjoy the spectacular larger version.

Fill flash at -1 stop with the fabulous Godox VING V860IIC TTL Li-Ion Flash Kit for Canon Cameras with a Better Beamer FX-1B Flash Extender.

1200mm + Fill Flash = Just Ducky Perfection!

Bryan Holliday took on on the chin for the team by driving my rental car back to Gilbert to grab a box of duck bait in the form of oat cereal; bread is not an allowed food but the oat cereal is. While he was one of the three drake Canvasbacks swam by me … I made hay with the one perfect frame out of a series of about twenty. As this was one of my target species for Phoenix I was a very happy man.

So What is Perfect?

There are several elements that make this photograph pretty close to perfect. What are they? On the other hand, does anything about this image bug you? Either way, please leave a comment.

More on Coming Soon

February 2018 Spoonbill Boat IPT: FEB 23-25, 2018/2 1/2 days with three morning spoonbill sessions on the boat (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 lightingbgear. 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 are two folks signed up for the spoonbill IPT with just four openings left. If you would like to join us, please do not tarry.

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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.

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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 :).

12 comments to 1200mm + Fill Flash = Just Ducky Perfection!

  • Love the images, I seen you there on pond 6, but did not approach as you had enough visitors already and I’m sure you enjoy shoot more than visiting.

  • Hey Arthur, The flash gave the duck some nice pop in the overcast light. I could see the bird lower in the frame. Is the flash in the hot shoe of the camera? Have you ever used the MAGMOD MagBeam?

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    I read all the comments in these posts with interest. Clearly defining perfection is a non-starter because it’s very personal. I find the shot to be very appealing but I tend to be looking from the point of view of how appealing the duck is and how much detail it displays. Folk often tell me that for my photos to appeal to them, they need to have something distinctly different/unique than what’s out there in photo-land.

    Never the less, I like this shot a lot. I like it when birds smile at me and give their approval.

    Jack

  • avatar Matthew B

    The Godox flashes are great; I use them at every wedding. The lithium packs are awesome, hundreds of shots, no more AA to mess with.

    Arthur, I have to say is awesome seeing parks listed near me that I visit regularly. I was at the ASU research park ponds last evening with my 6yr old daughter(She gets a kick out of her binoculars) there were 6 great white egrets lined down the water’s edge, several double crested cormorants both fishing and hanging out on the pond’s ledge, a few ring neck ducks as well as another I’m not familar with, and best of all, almost no one else around. 1 block west off the 101 Warner exit.

  • avatar Jake Levin

    Just about perfect stuff:

    -The positioning of the bird in the frame
    -The background (nothing distracting, no OOF blobs or sticks)
    -The “bow wave” and “wake” in front of and behind the duck
    -Everything’s sharp
    -Whites are bang on

    Me gusta.

  • avatar Bill Bentley

    Also, with respect, although this image is technically good, it looks like just another stock, bird ID shot.
    Bird, nicely positioned in frame, sideways on. End of.

    Incidentally and a this is a genuine question, why do you so often consider the side-on +/- 3 degrees of head angle to be so desirable? OK, the whole bird is likely to be in focus, but where’s the creativity and drama in that?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Different strokes for different folks. Your “genuine question” is first a mis-statement as I never said anything about +/-3 degrees. Head angle has to do with the way the light hits the bird’ face and the connection to the viewer. In general, I prefer the head turned one to three degrees towards the viewer. Here is a genuine question for you: are you purposely trying to insulting, belittling, and obnoxious?

      with love, artie

      • avatar Bill Bentley

        No, not at all.
        +/- 3 degrees was just shorthand for the said head angle so apologies for not being clearer.
        The question about shooting so many birds sideways on so often was genuine. It seems a bit formulaic to me. Just trying to learn, so please don’t over react and take it as insulting or obnoxious.

        • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

          I was just asking your intent.

          with love, artie

          ps: I may have been a bit too sensitive. For me and my style, perfect portraits even side view “field guide-type” photos when done perfectly are a big turn on. Sure, this bird in flight or with a fish would have been great but after eluding me for 35 years I was quite happy with the Canvasback image. Perhaps there are many wonderful things about the image that you are missing …

          • avatar Bill Bentley

            Thanks.
            Yes, it’s a really good image.
            I often shoot birds 3/4 on if they are doing something interesting or even head on if they are looking straight down the barrel (eye contact) and as long as the eye and head are sharp, I don’t mind if the rest of the body runs out of focus. Of course, having the whole bird sharp is ideal but that’s just not possible much of the time. For me, a shot with high visual impact trumps all-over sharpness.
            Would you agree or do you have a different take?

  • avatar Adam

    With all due respect this is not one of my favorites and I am struggling to find much positive to say other than it’s a capture and reasonably sharp for the focal length. The subject and context leave me wanting and although the drake has some dimensionality the surround creates a flattened and unappealing background.

    • avatar Adam

      The more I looked and played with the image, the more I have to revise my original comments and add a mea culpa. After desaturating the yellows a bit (they cause the harsh green in the water), adding in some more blue, and balancing out the luminosity by adding a gradient to the right side of the image, it was much more pleasing. A couple of .jpgs are on the way…

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