Nikon Group AF Magic. Square and Boxy Crops. And D5 Image Quality … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Nikon Group AF Magic. Square and Boxy Crops. And D5 Image Quality ...

Stuff (and Stuffing)

Thursday was a great day all in all. It was nice seeing former wife Dana and husband Kenny, Dana’s sister Rachel and her husband Bob, and son-in-law Erik’s sister Eva and her two boys, along with my two daughters and their families. My late-Mom and my late-sister Arna were missed.

I did pretty good at the big meal limiting myself to one large plate of turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and cranberries (but for picking lots of dark meat off the turkey carcass after the fact). The family tradition (started by my late-Mom Hazel) is to baste the turkey in apple juice. The gravy is made from the drippings and both the turkey and the gravy turn out wonderfully sweet.

After being relatively in control at the dinner table I fell off the dessert wagon two hours later with way, way too much Bryers Chocolate Truffle and Bryers Salty Caramel ice cream along with a few small chunks of a wonderful maple cake baked by granddaughter Maya. I managed to stay away from the very nice selection of pies. Just before publishing today’s blog I realized that the turkey wasn’t the only thing that was stuffed yesterday …

And all three of my NFL teams won. I will be back to eating healthy again today. I hope that you all had a wonderful day too.

I was glad to learn that the sale of all three of multiple IPT veteran, multiple BBC and Nature’s Best honored photographer, and good friend Paul Mckenzie’s lenses were either pending or complete. His goal was to sell the stuff quickly and he did just that (in three days).

DeSoto Early Winter IPT News

Because both folks who have signed up for this IPT have expressed an interest in learning to micro-adjust their gear, I will be bringing my LensAlign unit and all of the lighting gear. Do consider joining us if you would like to do the same. Scroll down here for details.

Note: gorgeous Snowy Egrets like the one in today’s featured image are both silly tame and plentiful at DeSoto in December.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.


Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Lens

Multiple IPT veteran John Johnson is offering a Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Lens in Excellent Plus to Near-mint condition for the BAA record low price of $7499.00. The sale includes the rear lens cap, the lens trunk, the original tough front lens cover, a LensCoat and LensCoat Hoodie, 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 John via e-mail or by phone at 1-216-533-6148 (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 — still in production — sell new right now for $12,999 from B&H. They have used ones in similar but not quite as good condition in the insanely high price range of from $9,499.95 to $9,999.95. Several of them have been for sale at those prices for more than two years. Thus, John’s lens is an amazing buy. artie

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.


Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of photographers 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.

SNEGR-PH-MECH-SCRN-CAPT

This image was created on the morning of September 24, 2018 at my new favorite spot (thanks to Noel Heustis) at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II, and the fast, rugged professional body, the Nikon w/Dual XQD slots). ISO 400. Matrix metering at about +-1/3 stop as originally framed: 1/1000 sec. at f/11 in Manual Mode. AUTO1 WB at 8:47am on a dead-clear morning.

Center Group (grp) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array — as seen above — barely caught the bird’s back. Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune was a significant +6. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Photo Mechanic Screen Capture for Snowy Egret ready to take flight

Group AF Magic

As you might imagine, the moment before I pushed the shutter button the Snowy Egret had been standing up straight and tall and the center Group AF array was right on the subject’s neck (and thus on the same plane as its eye). I was, however, able to follow my own advice: “When something unexpected happens, push the shutter button. If you try to adjust anything, you will miss the action, but only 100% of the time.” So when the bird leaned forward I pushed the shutter button even though the AF array was nowhere near the bird’s head, face, or neck.

Now, I have absolutely no idea how or why Group AF works so well for flight and action, but in this case it performed magically; the eye of the subject is razor sharp at 100% in the cropped (unsharpened) master file. Though I have been using Nikon for a relatively short time, I have seen numerous instances of this type of magical AF performance: the Group array is not anywhere near the bird’s head, face, or eye et the image is dead-on sharp.

Snowy-Egret-ready-to-take-flight-_DSC6741Fort-DeSoto-Park,-Tierra-Verde,-FL

This image was created on the morning of September 24, 2018 at my new favorite spot (thanks to Noel Heustis) at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-17E II, and the fast, rugged professional body, the Nikon w/Dual XQD slots). ISO 400. Matrix metering at about +-1/3 stop as originally framed: 1/1000 sec. at f/11 in Manual Mode. AUTO1 WB at 8:47am on a dead-clear morning.

Center Group AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array barely caught a bit of the bird’s back. Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune was a significant +6. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) Shutter Button AF as originally framed.

Snowy Egret ready to take flight

Square and Boxy Crops

I am often asked if I always stick to the 3X2 of 2X3 proportions of our horizontal and vertical images as they come out of camera. The answer is that I love 3X2 and 2X3 and if they work for a given image, I will go with those. If I need to go to a horizontal pano or a somewhat skinny vertical pano look I will not hesitate to go with those. But at times, as with today’s featured image, a given photograph screams out for a square of otherwise boxy crop. Note in the original in the Photo Mechanic Screen Capture that opened this blog post that there is a large strip of light sky at the top of the frame along with much too much blue water above the bird. So I picked 1:1 (square) from the Crop dropdown menu and took a bit off the bottom and a bit off the left. For this image, a perfect square was clearly the perfect crop.

D5 Image Quality

Notice that despite the relatively large crop that the D5 image quality stood up very nicely.

The Lesson

Decide on your crop only after carefully considering the compositional elements in the image. Don’t be limited by believing that there is a single best proportion; crop to suit the image.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in early winter is rife with tame birds. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The 2018 Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT/Thursday December 7 through the morning session on Monday December 10, 2018: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 6.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in early winter. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how 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 choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

As with the fall IPT, this one will run with only a single registrant. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please remember that the meet and greet will take place at 7:30 on the evening of Sunday, September 23. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are short in December. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours; on this particular trip we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers arrive.

Help Support the Blog

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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.

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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 :).

7 comments to Nikon Group AF Magic. Square and Boxy Crops. And D5 Image Quality …

  • The square format really works for this one. However, depending on what’s just outside the frame, other crops would work too! Just a fantastic photograph.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Jeremy,

      There are always other crops available. I chose square here because it looked best to my eye and I wanted to point out that 3X2 is not always best

      with love, artie

  • avatar Neil Hickman

    Hi Artie!
    Steve Perry who is a “Nikon Guy” from way back, suggests this as a “number 2” array. On a D850 he suggests back button Af/on as single point and the middle of the next “Joystick” button as the one you used. You can move from one to the other in split second and Steve believes these focus modes are both the fastest and most accurate.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Neil, I’ve long known about that trick. I do not like it because you need to hold a button down to execute the AF Area Mode switch. And I gave up rear focus years ago.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Ed Dow

    Hi Artie,

    I’m curious why you were at f11 for this shot. Isn’t that why the eye is in focus more than Nikon magic?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Don’t forget that wide open for the 1.7 teleconverter is something like f/8 or f/9 so f/11 is only stopped down a bit. And at close range, you would need a lot more d-o-f to get the face sharp if you had been focused on the mid-back. But note that the feathers just beyond the mid-back are not in sharp focus. That is where the magic lies 🙂

      a

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Ed,

      I realized after the fact that I did not answer your first question very well. I was at f/11 for a bit of extra sharpness with the somewhat inferior TC-E17 II …

      with love, artie

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