Two What’s? « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Two Whats?

What’s Up?

Monday dawned cold and blustery with strong northwest winds. The traditional pelican spot was a guaranteed waste of time so we made a wiggle and with one large cloud to the east made hay for an hour and a half while the sun did not shine. Once the skies cleared we had brutal wind against sun so headed over to the sea lions and did quite well. Patrick found us a tame Black Oystercatcher that pose and pose for us but with the west wind it took some persistence to create some good images. When it comes to shorebirds I can be very persistent.

On Monday afternoon we headed to my #2 favorite beach and did some nice gulls in flight and on wet sand. I was amazed to see a flock of about 150 completely tame Red Knots feeding in the shallow surf. Several of us managed to successfully isolate single birds. I was bummed that I left my 80-400 in the car as there were some nice flock shots to be had. We finished off with some Marbled Godwit silhouettes.

Tuesday morning it was back to business as usual on the pelican cliffs with lots of gorgeous tame birds. With an early northeast wind we had some good flight photography. That afternoon we visited my #1 favorite beach, came up empty on Marbled Godwit, but worked a cooperative Whimbrel. We also enjoyed several species of gulls including Heerman’s set against gorgeous buff reflections and finished off with gull silhouettes and wide angle i-phone sunset photos.

I was glad to learn that most of John Wright’s Canon stuff sold quickly; the sale of one TC is pending.

Cafe Vahik

Thanks to Dr. Cliff Oliver for turning us on to Cafe Vahik (6780 La Jolla Boulevard, La Jolla, CA). The place is open from 6:00 am to 4:30 pm everyday. The food is great and we have enough room to do our daily in-classroom (aka in-cafe) learning sessions. I had the Playa Del Norte salad the first day — Fresh Spring Mix, Blue Cheese, Cranberry, Caramelized Pecans and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinaigrette — and totally fell in love. I have had it every day since adding various proteins; today was yellowtail tuna! Learn more about this great spot on their website here. The service is fast and the hospitality is wonderful. And it is so, so nice to be able to grab and early lunch rather than having to wait until 11:30 for some taco joint to open …

IPT Updates

I have room for two folks on the spoonbill boat and still need three or four folks for the Galapagos trip. If you would like to explore the possibilities, please get in touch via e-mail. No reasonable offers will be refused.

  • The 2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — FEB 16 thru 19, 2019: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 2.
  • The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins, Gannets, & Red Kites IPT. Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 10 photographers/Openings: 9. This trip needs four to run. Co-leader: Peter Kes.
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Photographic Experience. July 23 to August 6, 2019 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,499. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings: 4.


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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.

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.

This image was created on the first morning of the San Diego IPT on January 20, 2019. I used the hand Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 290mm) and my souped up Nikon D850. AUTO ISO at ? Matrix metering +1 2/3 stops off the ocean: 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3 in Shutter Priority mode (S with Nikon, Tv in Canon). NATURAL AUTO WB at 6:54am in pre-dawn light.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +5. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) AF point/Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the pelican’s neck.

Pacific race Brown Pelican — dorsal view in pre-dawn light/strong>

What’s the ISO?

Click on the image to see a larger version and then leave a comment letting us know what you think the capture ISO was for today’s featured image.

What’s a 600mm f/4 Lens?

In the Falklands I used my Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens once or perhaps twice. I have not even thought of using my 600 in San Diego. The combination of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens (often with the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III to get to 700mm) and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens has been amazingly effective and versatile on both trips. Together — with the TC-E14, they cover most focal lengths from 80 to 700mm. The light weight and relatively small size of these two lenses makes the eminently hand holdable and hand holding makes it far easier to get into position when you wish to work from new and unusual perspectives, something that is close to impossible to do with any tripod-mounted lens. Participant Anita North has been killing the incoming Brandt’s Cormorants with her D850 and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens. I plan to try my lightweight Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR in that situation (albeit at one stop higher ISO).

An as noted yesterday, weekend quasi-co-leader Patrick Sparkman has done all of his photography with the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens and the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera, at times adding the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter. To say that he has been amazed is a big understatement …

So, are 600mm f/4 lenses now defunct when it comes to bird photography? Absolutely not. I will be using my 600mm f/4VR lens most often with the TC-E14 when I am out of the boat on the Spoonbill IPT (see below for details on that). And there are dozens of additional times that I will be using and depending on that very beloved 600mm focal length. It’s just that as 73 gets closer and closer every day the 600 gets heavier and heavier … That said, those 600mm f/4 lenses will be making great images of birds and wildlife for longer than I will be around.

From left to to right clockwise back to the center: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill downstroke, Brown Pelican sunrise silhouette, Double-crested Cormorant pre-dawn blur, Roseate Spoonbill flapping after bath, Brown Pelican taking flight, Roseate Spoonbill taking flight, Reddish Egret white morph breeding plumage in flight, and Reddish Egret dark morph breeding plumage in flight.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks on the February 2018 trip.

You can click on each card to enjoy a larger version.

2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — FEB 16 thru 19, 2019: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 1.

3 1/2 days on the boat including four morning photo sessions and three afternoon sessions via customized pontoon boat.

Price per day Reduced from the 2018 rates! Please e-mail for details on IPT veteran and couples’ discounts. Pro-rated options may be available …

We will be leaving the dock very early for the morning sessions (weather permitting) in hopes of photographing the pre-dawn American Crow and White Ibis blast-offs. All sessions are planned for the Alafia Banks Roseate Spoonbill Rookery. We might consider other options in the unlikely event of horrific weather. There will be lots of opportunities for flight photography of several species including and especially Roseate Spoonbill. Also likely for flight photography are nesting Brown Pelican, both morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White and Glossy Ibises, and Double Crested Cormorant. We should have some good chances with birds carrying nesting material. This IPT includes all boat and guide fees, in the field instruction, chest waders (feel free to bring your own of course to assure a perfect fit), and three working lunches on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. For the most part we will be standing in mid-calf to knee high water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with mobility or balance problems. Note however that some folks opt to stay on the boat to photograph. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks

The Timing and Tides are Perfect!

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumage spoonbills … The 2019 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT represents an incredible opportunity to photograph Florida’s most wanted species. I do hope that you can join us. There will be a meet and greet at 7:00pm sharp on the evening of Friday February 15, 2019. All of the images on the card were made on the Hooptie Duex during the last two weeks of February, prime time for the spoonies in mega-breeding plumage. Many folks have written expressing interest so please do not tarry.

Please e-mail to hold your spot. Then you may either secure your spot by calling Jim or Jennifer at the office at 863-692-0906 and leaving the $500 deposit on credit card or sending your check for payment in full to us as follows with the check made out to:

BIRDS AS ART and sent here via US mail:

PO BOX 7245
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

If you call to leave your deposit you will be asked to mail your check for the balance asap.


Images courtesy of our guide; copyright 2017 Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Everybody Loves Spoonbills!

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage…. with long telephoto lenses. A 500 or 600 with a 1.4X TC is perfect for this trip.

Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography often with the birds likely carrying nesting material), Double-crested Cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White) in breeding plumage. Some of the White Ibises may be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition we may get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips will most likely be back to Alafia Banks for the spoonbills with an option to visit a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an extensive image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes lunches on the full days with small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

Help Support the Blog

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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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In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

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