Saturday was Nikon Testing Day. Sunday was SONY Revelation Day! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Saturday was Nikon Testing Day. Sunday was SONY Revelation Day!

What’s Up?

Gatorland was very good on Sunday morning. It was cloudy dark until about 10am when things began to brighten. I headed home after eleven when the sun came out for a while. I went all Sony on Sunday working mostly with the 1.4X but also with the 100-400 alone and a bit with the 2X when it got brighter. All hand held. Patrick Sparkman came up with an amazing suggestion the completed eliminated the number one reason I was not liking SONY … We are working on the guide. More Patrick Sparkman SONY news is coming in the Tuesday blog post.

On Monday morning I will check on the crane colts and chicks down by the lake … Thanks to all for commenting on yesterday’s Snowy Egret image; I was a bit surprised by everyone’s enthusiasm. But very appreciative. BTW, that handsome bird was a guy bird and by this morning, he had secured himself a very loverly lady; they were fooling around in the bush quite often this morning.

IPT Updates

I was glad to learn recently that Dan Tishman will be joining six others on the DeSoto IPT — that leaves one slot open. And #3 just signed up for the UK trip; that leaves only two openings on what will be an amazing trip, and will likely be my last trip and likely the last Dunbar gannet boats trips — Gordon is getting old. 🙂

Despite lots of recent interest I still need three folks for the Galapagos trip. Please shoot me an e-mail to learn about the huge late registration discount on the Galapagos trip.

  • The 2019 Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/THURS 18 APRIL through the morning session on SUNDAY APRIL 21, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 1. Meet and greet at 7PM on the evening of WED 17 APRIL. Free morning session on WED 17 APRIL.
  • 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 5 photographers/Openings: 2. This trip is a definite go.
  • 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: 13 photographers/Openings: 3. Please e-mail to learn about the huge late registration discount for this trip.


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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 at Gatorland on the morning of Saturday, March 16, 2019. Again I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my back-up mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR.. ISO 1600. Matrix metering minus about 1/3 stop: 1/320 sec. at f/9 was a slight underexposure. AUTO1 WB at 8:04am in totally cloudy conditions.

Center Group (grp) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the bird’s forehead; the right-most point of the array just caught the top of the bird’s eye.

Phase detection AF Fine-tune value: +1. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here. Click on the image to see the larger sharper version.

Tricolored Heron with crest raised

Saturday was Nikon Testing Day …

As regular readers know I have been having sharpness issues with my Nikon 600 VR with and without the TC-E14 and both of my D850 bodies. After cleaning the drop-in filter I talked myself into believing that everything was A-OK. But I quickly came to realize that I had not been getting the razor sharp images that I have always gotten with my 600 VR. It is likely that something is out of alignment … So yesterday I worked with the 500 PF and both of my D850 bodies (with and without the TC-E14).

The good news is that everything — including yesterday’s and today’s featured images were sharp on the eye with lots of fine feather detail. I am 99.99% sure that I will be sending the 600 VR into Nikon service early this coming week. By testing both bodies I know that the problem is with the 600 VR …

What is weird is that everything is AF fine-tuned and the images appear to be correctly focused, i.e., sharp on the eye, but lacking fine detail in the skin and feathers surrounding the eye. That said, pretty much all of the images that I am concerned about — pretty much everything made with the 600 for the past few weeks, could easily be processed nicely for web viewing and would look pretty sharp. Heck, you have seen some of those here …

To be sure that my vision is up to snuff and I am not expecting too, too much from the 600 VR, I will be sending an e-mail to Patrick tonight with more than a dozen screen captures that illustrate the sharpness problems I am having. If you would like to receive a copy, please send me an e-mail by clicking on this link.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All of the images on this card were created on the 2018 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The New, Expanded 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. Seahouses, Bempton Cliffs, and the Dunbar, Scotland Gannet boat to Bass Rock! Thursday June 27 (from EDI) through Tuesday, July 9, 2019 (on the ground; fly home on Wednesday July 10.): $9,999. Limit 5 photographers/openings 2.

Join me in the UK in late June and early July 2019 to photograph Atlantic Puffin, Common Murre, Razorbill, Shag, and Northern Gannet, Red Kite, and more both in flight and at close range. We will also have great chances with Arctic and Sandwich Terns, both with chicks of all sizes; Black-headed, Lesser-Black-backed, and Herring Gulls, many of those chasing puffins with fish; Black-legged Kittiwake with chicks; plus Grey Seal. There will be tons of great flight photography. As on all IPTs, if you pay attention, you will learn a ton, especially about sky conditions and the relationship between light angle and wind direction and their effects on flight photography.

Why go all the way to Machias Seal Island off the coast of Maine, endure a two-hour boat ride, and have to photograph Atlantic Puffins from a cramped blind usually in bright sun (and well off sun angle) when you can hop a red-eye flight from Newark, NJ and be in Edinburgh, Scotland early the next morning. First we drive down to Bridlington for easy access to Bempton Cliffs where our primary targets will be Northern Gannet in flight. We will also get to photograph Razorbill, Northern Fulmar, Herring Gull, and Black-legged Kittiwake. While in Bridlington we will spend one afternoon visiting a Red Kite feeding station that should provide lots of flight photography action.

While in Bridlington we will staying at the Lobster Pot by Marston’s Inn, just fifteen minutes from Bempton Cliffs. After 3 1/2 days of photography at there, we drive down to Seahouses in Northumberland to the two lodges that will be our home base for a week. After a short boat ride each day we will have hundreds of puffins posing at close range all day, every day — usually in ideal cloudy-bright conditions. While we are in Seahouses we will do six puffin/seabird trips, all weather permitting of course; last year we did not miss a single landing. In five years we have averaged losing less than one half day per year to bad weather. We land at Staple Island in the mornings and then sail over to Inner Farnes for our afternoon sessions. In addition, we may enjoy a session or two photographing nesting Black-legged Kittiwakes at eye level from a rocky beach in Seahouses.

In Seahouses, we stay 7 nights in gorgeous, modern, upscale lodges with Wi-fi. They are beyond lovely with large living areas and lots of open space for the informal image sharing and Photoshop sessions. The bedrooms are decent-sized. Each lodge has one double bedroom and two twin bedrooms. (See the single supplement info below.) At the lodges we cook our own breakfasts each morning and prepare our own lunches to be brought on the six puffin boat trips. For dinners we will alternate cooking in the lodges with fine dining at several excellent local restaurants. We stay two nights at the Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. We will enjoy a fine-dining Thank You dinner at the Dunbar Hotel on the Tuesday evening before we fly home.

On the morning of Monday, July 8, 2019, the plan is to sleep late, pack, and head up to Dunbar Harbor, Scotland for lunch and an afternoon gannet boat chumming trip: flight photography until you cannot lift your camera. The next morning, Tuesday July 9, we will enjoy our second gannet boat chumming trip (both weather permitting). On both trips we will enjoy great views of the huge gannetry at Bass Rock. Included will be two nights lodging at the Pine Martin by Marston’s Inn in Dunbar. Very early on the morning of Wednesday, July 10, we will drive up to Edinburgh Airport so that everyone can make their flights home. No moaning please. You will need a flight that leaves at 8:30am or later. Not too much later is generally best. Note: this trip needs a minimum of four photographers to run.


Images and card design copyright: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. All images were created on the 2017 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT

The Details

This IPT is all-inclusive except for your airfare and alcoholic beverages. All ground transportation, lodging costs, meals, your National Trust membership, and all boat, entry, and landing fees are included. Weather permitting, we will enjoy three and one-half days (at least six sessions in all) at Bempton Cliffs, an afternoon with the Red Kites, six full days on the puffin boats, one amazing afternoon gannet chumming trip, and one spectacular morning gannet chumming trip. The trip cannot be finalized until I have at least six deposits as we will be renting a lovely 15-passenger bus with our private professional driver who happens to be my web-master, Peter Kes, who is also a skilled photographer and my co-leader 🙂

IPT Details

If you are good to go sharing a room–couples of course are more than welcome, heck, we actually need two couples — please send your non-refundable $2,000/person deposit check now to save a spot. Please be sure to check your schedule carefully before committing to the trip and see the travel insurance info below. Your balance will be due on February 28, 2019. Please make your check out to “Arthur Morris” and send it to Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855.

Please shoot me an e-mail if you are good to go or if you have any questions.

Single Supplement Info

Single supplement rooms in Bridlington and Dunbar are available for those who register early. The cost of the single supplement for those six nights is $600.00. Single supplement rooms at the lodge may be available on a limited basis but only if the trip does not fill with ten photographers. The single supplement fee for those seven nights is $700. If you would like your own room in Bridlington and Dunbar, please request it when making your deposit and include payment in full for the single supplement with your deposit: $2,600.00. The single supplement deposits are non-refundable as I will need to make the reservations well in advance.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for big international trips is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

I truly hope that you can join me on this exciting venture.

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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 :).

7 comments to Saturday was Nikon Testing Day. Sunday was SONY Revelation Day!

  • avatar Joe Parker

    Beautiful Heron shot Arthur, you say it as shot at f6.3, this must be a typo if the 1.4 extender was used?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey Joe, Thanks for catching my brain typo. The correct aperture was f/9. I shall change it now. Good eyes and I am glad that someone is reading the fine print 🙂

      with love, a

  • avatar Nicholas Liu

    Superb image Arthur.

  • avatar Phil Thach

    Another great image. I looked at it this morning on my phone and wasn’t impressed. I’m glad I came back to have another look from my desktop. Really nice detail that I completely missed on my first look. Maybe I was just asleep the first time because I looked again on the phone and liked it better this time.
    I always end up in Florida at what is probably the worst time of year for bird photography there, July. Last July I talked my family into interrupting our family vacation for one morning of birding. We went to Viera Wetlands and I had a great time photographing the Tri-colored Herons that were abundant there. I’ve never seen one with its crest raised like this! The year before we went to Gatorland. I enjoyed both locations even in the offseason for birding. This year, again in July, we are going to the west coast and I have my heart set on a Florida Scrub Jay photo.


  • avatar Donnette Largay

    As a Canon shooter with equipment that needs updating, I am very interested in option on Sony. Do I upgrade my Canon (I have 5D Mark 3) which is still good but lenses need to be replaced. I have been looking at Sony for a year. Just unsure is it worth it. Lighter weight would be great. However, putting on longer lenses is not reducing that much. I have been looking at the A9. Your thoughts?

  • avatar Anthony Ardito

    good luck working out the issues with the 600mm. Hate when that happens.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Yupper. The only problem I ever had with a Canon 600 was when I dropped a brand new on six feet face down onto the crushed limestone tour road at Ding Darling NWR … The ceramic collars that hold the lens elements were turned to dust …

      with love, artie