Just Lucky Duckie … And My First Day with SONY « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Just Lucky Duckie ... And My First Day with SONY

Stuff

When we arrived at Lake Hodges on Friday morning, it was 38 degrees … As the grebes rarely if ever dance when it is cold, Ken Cook and Anita North decided to go for duck’s instead. In the afternoon Patrick Sparkman and I decided to try an old favorite afternoon pelican spot. We did quite well.

I was glad to learn that John M Wright sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens in excellent to near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $6,950.00, his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of 1,299.00, a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L lens in excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $599.00, his Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $499.00, and a Canon Extender (teleconverter) EF 2X III in near-mint condition for $265.00, all within days of their being listed. The sale of his 1.4X III TC is pending. John has several other fairly priced Canon items — including several great camera bodies — still available. Scroll down to check them out.

First Day With SONY

On Saturday I worked all day with the Sony gear, the amazing Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera, the
Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, and both the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter and the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter. The very first image that I made was a keeper! In short, I was so impressed with the SONY stuff that I am 99.99% sure that I will at least be adding the gear above to my kit. The decision as to whether or not to keep some of my Nikon gear or make a complete switch to SONY is one that will be made at some point in the future. I have tons to share with you on the SONY gear and will be doing that here on the blog for at least the next week or two or more. Please remember that at this point I have used the SONY stuff for only one day. And that I had a ton of help from Patrick Sparkman.

IPT Updates

Unsolicited via e-mail from multiple IPT veteran Donna Bourdon

Thank you Artie for another amazing trip! The setting and the access to such spectacular wildlife was more than we could have hoped for. And you, yourself are remarkable. I am always touched by your selflessness in sharing your professional talent and knowledge. Not many working pros would be willing to share their intellectual property as you do. And the group experience was such fun. It was good to make new friends and enjoy food, fun and fellowship together! I hope to meet up with everyone again soon for another “over the top” adventure. with love, Donna

Unsolicited via e-mail from IPT veteran Eugen Dolan

Arthur, Thank you very much for your overwhelming infectious enthusiasm that helped get me up on some mornings. Also, your ability to express yourself- and explain in great detail why you like or may not like an image – was very helpful in allowing me to better analyze my images. Eugen

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 offer 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.


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.

Recent Sales

John M Wright sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens in excellent to near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $6,950.00, his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of 1,299.00, a Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L lens in excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $599.00, his Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $499.00, and a Canon Extender (teleconverter) EF 2X III in near-mint condition for $265.00, all within days of their being listed. The sale of his 1.4X III TC is pending.
Ramona Boone sold her Canon 600mm IS II in like-new condition for $7,699.00 (was $8,699.00) while I was in the Falklands
Brooke Miller sold her Canon 5D Mark IV for $2,249.00, her Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and Extender EF 2X III for $299.00 each, her Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens in near-mint condition for $599.00, and her Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM in excellent plus condition for $7398.00.

The Rest of John M Wright’s Canon Fire Sale Items

Canon EF 24-70mm f/4L IS Lens

John M Wright is also offering a Canon 24-70mm f/4L IS lens in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $488.00. The sale includes the front and rear caps, the soft pouch, and insured UPS ground shipping the within USA. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail.

If you are a landscape photographer looking to save weight this is the lens you are looking for. It sells new at B&H for $899.00. artie

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS Lens

John M Wright is also offering a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS lens in near mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $488.00. The sale includes the front and rear caps, the soft pouch, and insured UPS ground shipping within the USA. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail.

I love this lightweight intermediate telephoto lens for photographing tame birds in flight at close range. I always had one on the gannet boat trips. It is also great for landscapes and Urbex photography. artie

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dSLR

John M Wright is also offering a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR body in near-mint condition with 28,567 shutter actuations for $1999.00. The sale includes the original box, the front cap, one battery and the charger, the strap, and insured UPS ground shipping within the USA. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail.

The 5D IV is my all-time favorite Canon dSLR. I used two as my workhorse bodies while my 1DX and my 1DX II largely sat on a shelf in the garage … artie

Canon EOS 5D Mark III dSLR

John M Wright is also offering a Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR body in excellent condition with 54,914 shutter actuations for the BAA record-low price of $949.00. The sale includes the front cap, one battery and charger, the strap, and insured UPS ground shipping within the USA. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail.

I owned and used this superb, full frame, 22mp digital body for several years. It was always my first choice for scenic, Urbex (urban exploration), and flower photography until I fell in love for a while with the 5DS R (for a lot more money!). Then I switched to the 5D IV body. In addition, I loved my 5D III body for birds with my big lenses and both TCs. I used mine to create many dozens of high quality images. Then I switched to Nikon. John’s body can be yours for a bargain price. artie

Canon EOS 7D Mark II dSLR

John M Wright is also offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR body in excellent plus condition with 17,778 shutter actuations for $799.00. The sale includes the front cap, one battery and charger, the strap, and insured UPS ground shipping within the USA. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail.

Both Patrick Sparkman and I used and loved the 7D Mark II until we both committed to using full frame Canon bodies. We both made some truly great images with it. Two of my three 2016 Nature’s Best honored entries were created with the 7D II, one still, and one video. One thing is for sure: the 7D Mark II is the greatest value ever in a digital camera body. With a new one going for $1,099.95 you can save more than $300 by grabbing John’s camera body now … Not convinced? Do a search for “Cadieux” in the little white box at the top right of each blog post … Dan’s images, all made with the 7D Mark II, will amaze you.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.

Wood-Duck-head-portrait-_MAI9229--San-Diego,-CA

This image was created on the day after the San Diego IPT ended, January 26, 2019. I used the hand Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 7200. Matrix metering -1/3 stop as framed: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. NATURAL AUTO WB at 8:34am on a clear day.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +2. 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 duck’s purple cheek patch, pretty much on the same plane as the eye.

Wood Duck drake — head portrait

Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Situation

Wood Ducks love scratch (poultry feed of mixed grains and cracked corn). Please note: not only is feeding the ducks allowed at my favorite duck ponds but the camp store sells scratch at a buck a bag. In any case, I was sitting at the edge of the fourth lake surrounded by a zillion coots. A male Wood Duck joined them on the edge of the bank. One by one the coots dropped over the edge back into the pond. The drake woodie stayed. I added the 1.4X teleconverter to the 500 PF, moved slightly to my right to get a bit more on sun angle, and made a series of images as the duck continued to stay still and pose. Then I moved slowly to my right to get closer and more on sun angle. The duck stayed put. I made another 20 or so images before the very cooperative duck went for a swim. Today’s featured image was one of the smaller-in-the-frame photos from the first series. The images from the second series were too stuffed into the frame. In short, I was the lucky duck.

Two AF Questions

Why didn’t I frame the image with the center Group array right on the duck’s eye?

Why didn’t I simply choose the upper center array?

Hooptie-card-2017-images

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.

spoonbill-card

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:

BIRDS AS ART
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.


hooptie-card-shadle-aa

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

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

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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 :).

20 comments to Just Lucky Duckie … And My First Day with SONY

  • I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on the a9 and the 100-400, especially with the 2x tele. Specifically, because I wouldn’t think a camera could autofocus with a 2x tele on a f/5.6 lens. If the a9 can focus well with the 100-400 and 2x tele, I’m impressed! I figured Sony’s a9 and 2x might require the 400 f/2.8 to function well.

    I would submit a guess on your focus point choice but my answer mirrors Tony Z’s. I know my Nikon bodies struggle on any lens and tele combo that adds up to f/8. Be it f/4 x 2 or f/5.6 x 1.4. You can move the focus point away from the center but when you do locking focus is hit or miss, mostly miss.

    Best,

  • Focusing on the eye may not have rendered the ducks sheen as well, which is what you were most wanting to capture? The wonderful array of colors eminating from the sun’s angle just popping the sheen of colors. Beautiful bird, great picture, am I even close? We are all jealous….but learning thanks to you! God Bless

  • Artie,
    I was with you on the Spring 2016 Fort De Soto IPT. I used my Sony A7RII with Metabones adapter on the Canon 600 f4 I rented from you. That combination worked well but was a little bit wanting for BIF. I have been using the A9 since October of 2017 with the 100-400 and 1.4 and 2.0 with the vertical grip and for the last 8 months I added the A7RIII. The BIF auto-focus and overall image quality are quite amazing. I typically use zone focus area for BIF and let the camera do the work. Many customization options AND no more need to micro adjust lenses! Both cameras work very well with my Canon 600 f4 II and 400 f4 DO II with the Metabones adapter. Let me know if you would like to see examples.

    My things to improve list is short. I wish the camera were slightly larger and that Sony had used two UHS II cards. If anyone is considering a purchase of this camera feel free to get in touch with me with any questions.

    Best,

    Mike

  • avatar Tony Z

    Hi Artie,
    I’m hoping to upgrade my camera later this year or early next year, so very interested in you take on the Sony.

    Regarding today’s image:
    Centering on the eye would leave too much space above the head, forcing you to crop it. It’s a composition decision.
    Why you didn’t choose the upper array is the tough question. With my Canon, if i use a TC then i ONLY get the center focus, i cannot move it. I would be surprised if that was the case for your Nikon gear. I think that at F/9 you’re going to have the bill in focus whether you focus on the eye or the cheek. So i really don’t know why you would choose to focus on the cheek.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good on the first one, And yes, Nikon should AF with AF points away from center with the 1.4X TC … Where were you when I was cursing Nikon at 700mm on the Falklands trip?

      with love, artie

  • avatar Gordon Lindsay

    Interested in your Sony impressions, I stuck my toe in with a A7111 3 months ago and I am impressed but could always learn more Thanks Artie.

  • avatar Ed Dow

    I’ll take a crack…You didn’t center on the eye because it would have destroyed the head and shoulder compositon and rendered only the head. The only reason I can imagine why you wouldn’t use a different focus point…Only the center focus point was available at f9.

  • avatar Donnette Largay

    Will be interested in your further comments on Sony A9. I looked at it in store but have not used. Looked promising to me. I currently have Canon 5D Mark III. No issues with camera. But when I buy new camera looking at Mirrorless. Looked at Nikon & Olympus as well as Canon mirrorless. These have not inspired me to spend the money. Appreciate your analysis in future. My only complaint is possibly the Menu system. My son has Sony A6000 and I found menu not user friendly.

  • avatar John Koeniger

    Thanks for the information on the Sony A9 looking forward to future observations. John Koeniger

  • avatar Dorothy Bowers

    Art, Not only is the Sony A9 an amazing camera, but Sony will be giving you practically a new camera for FREE in March via a firmware update that will include an even better autofocus tracking system and an eye tracking that will work with a BIRD’s eye!!! Although the current firmware will do some bird-eye tracking – not very reliably – they are promising the new system will lock onto a BIF!!
    Welcome to the Sony world, I have already given away most of my Canon gear to my grandchildren.

    The best,
    Dorothy Bowers

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Dorothy, It is pretty good for flight right now as is. Please give my condolences to your grandkids. With love , artie

  • avatar MARK HARRINGTON

    Beautiful shot Artie. Drake wood ducks are on my bucket list.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Wood Ducks had been difficult in San Diego for the past few years but were relatively easy this year. Consider joining the 2020 IPT to be announced soon.

      with love, artie