Desperately Seeking Susan? An e-mail from Lana. And the First FlexShooter Pro Images — flight photography, and from the tripod inside the car! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Desperately Seeking Susan? An e-mail from Lana. And the First FlexShooter Pro Images -- flight photography, and from the tripod inside the car!

What’s Up?

I was so busy with the FlexShooter stuff yesterday that I never got down to the lake. But I did enjoy my 3/4 mile plus swim as the weather here continues to be lovely. It is 5:52am on Wednesday May 1, 2019 and I hope to be headed down to the lake at about 7am.

Desperately Seeking Susan?

Well, I am desperately seeking one or two for the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime — no reasonable offer refused, desperately seeking one more photographer (male or female) for the UK Puffins, Gannets, and Red Kites IPT — with a large late-registration discount, and a registrant or two for the Fort DeSoto Short-Notice Sandbar Secrets IPT at the end of this week — please inquire about the late registration DeSoto discount via e-mail.

  • The 2019 Fort DeSoto Short-Notice Sandbar Secrets IPT/Sunday May 5 through the morning session on Wednesday May 8, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1649.00. Late-registration discount. Limit 4, openings: 2.
  • 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 — a large late-registration discount is available. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 1
  • 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 — no reasonable offer will be refused. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings: 2.
  • The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 7)

An e-Mail from old friend Lana Hays

Lana kindly purchased a FlexShooter Pro yesterday

Artie

I just read your FlexsShooter directions several times. I had been at an Aurora workshop in Alaska a couple of weeks ago and saw others with a similar head, at least the leveling portion, set it up level. That helped. The directions are good and there were no areas where I was confused. I think the main challenge will be getting it balanced; that will take time to get used to. I’m not all that “mechanical” so for me to say the directions were straightforward and easy to understand should be a good sign. I watched Andy Rouse’s videos several times over the past year. That gave me a heads up about the whole system. The best part….as simple as it seems….is the labeled drawing. I’m a visual learner and I could easily imagine each step with the diagram. The thought of not having to take the Whimberley Head and another ballhead on a trip is awesome; one lightweight ballhead for all situations! I am excited.

I had a hard time reading the directions with the light type and dark background/colors. I copied and pasted the directions, removed the colors, included the labeled diagram, and printed the Word file. I can travel with that and still be able to highlight text or make notes if I don’t have internet. Certainly not brain surgery, but thought you might want a clean copy if you don’t have one for the others who purchase the ball head.

I’m hoping for some good warblers. I had been to Magee Marsh maybe 7-8 times and didn’t have much luck. I was always a day late and a dollar short on a fallout (if there even was one). Last year was different; there was a fallout almost every day with loads of birds. One day a birder who had been there for years described it as a tsunami of birds. I was only going to stay for a couple of days but ended ended up staying 10 days and could easily have stayed a few more. The birds were only inside the boardwalk so I handheld the 100-400mm II the entire time. I swore I wouldn’t go back after such an incredible year but I have a lot of friends from up there and some others coming in from Florida, Alabama and California. And lousy birds just mean more time with friends, a winner either way.

Thanks…..I’ll be in touch.

Lana

I replied:

Thanks for your purchase, your kind words, and for the Word file with the directions. I will have Jim send it to to everyone who purchases their FlexShooter Pro from BAA. After you use the FlexShooter a few times setting it up will become second nature; you will not need the directions. The key is to remember that after you level the silver ball the Silver Bullet Knob is the only thing that you need to touch. And yes, for those who use long lenses and short lenses in the field, the FlexShooter Pro is both a necessity and a Godsend.

As for the warblers, last year sounded totally amazing. I gave up on photographing migrant warblers after a 14-day trip to Pelee in prime time — the first two weeks in May. With south winds and clear skies we never saw a single warbler …

with love, artie

BIRDS AS ART

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

Mongooses

For the first time in months, we have Mongoose Action Heads in stock.

Lessons-from-the-Field

Lessons From the Field/BIRDS AS ART Style is a 1 hour, 15 minute, 314 image,
click and play MP4 video

Lessons From the Field/BIRDS AS ART Style: $10.00

Click here to order or see the Save $10 Bundle offer below.

Lessons From the Field/BIRDS AS ART Style is a 1 hour, 15 minute click and play MP4 video. It is available here in the BAA Online Store, by phone order, or by sending a Paypal for $10.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net. As the file is a large one, be sure to upload it when you have a good internet connection.

The video features 314 of artie’s best images, educational and otherwise. Based on his 35 years of in-the-field experience, it covers all the basics along with many fine points. Are you making mistakes that give you no chance to create a great image? Learning to avoid those and learning to think like a pro will make you a better photographer. If you purchase and study the video, it will surely prove to be the best ten dollars you’ve ever spent on photography.


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birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100:

Save Ten Bucks!

Order the Lessons From the Field MP4 video and add a copy of the birds as art: The Avian Photography of Arthur Morris/The Top 100 (via convenient download — normally sells for $20.00) for an additional 10.00.

Order the bundle for $20.00 by clicking here.

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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.

Booking.Com

Many IPT folks have been using the Booking.Com link below to get great rates and save a handsome $25.00 in the process. If you too would like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and to earn a $25 reward on your first booking. Thanks to the many who have already tried and used this great service.

Airbnb

I have been using AirBNB for all of my travel lodging needs. Everyone on the Fort DeSoto IPT is staying at an AirBNB property in Gulfport. Airbnb lists more than 4.5 million homes across 200 countries; you’ll find spacious, affordable options for every occasion. With Airbnb you will travel with confidence as reviews from past guests help you find the right fit. Once you do, their secure messaging makes it easy to coordinate with your host. And Airbnb support teams are available 24/7. And this morning, I made a 17-day reservation for an Airbnb condo for San Diego, 2020. I am staying with Rick again: his place has lots of room, a full kitchen, two bedrooms, and great WiFi. All for a lot less than the price of a chain hotel.

Yikes. I almost forgot the best part: Airbnb rates average less than half of even the least expensive chain hotels and motels. If you would like to save $40 on your first booking sign up by using this link: Airbnb. Airbnb does charge clean-up and service fees that make short stays less attractive bargains than long stays.

Those who prefer to stay in a motel or hotel are invited to use the Booking.com link above to save $25.00.



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.

Black-Vultures-on-branch-_MAI0777-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL

This image was created on the morning of April 25, 2019 near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO 400. Matrix metering at about +1 2/3 stops: 1/320 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode was perfect with the histogram pushed all the way to the right. AUTO1 WB at 8:44am as a cloud covered the sun.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: a very significant +8. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

One array left of center Group (grp) — as originally framed — Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the neck of the bird on our left. At f/8 at a good distance there was more than enough of depth-of-field to render both birds sharp.

Image #1: Black Vultures relaxing on a branch

Working Off a FlexShooter on a Tripod Set Up in the Vehicle

Most mornings in winter, spring, and early summer I head down to the lake near my home, Lake Walk-in-Water (Lake Weohyakapka). I usually work from the driver’s seat of my SUV using the BLUBB to support my Nikon 600 VR usually with the 1.4X TC-E. Working off the BLUBB is fast and easy. Recently, I began using a very old technique: setting up the tripod inside the car and shooting out the fully lowered driver’s side window. More recently I replaced my beloved Mongoose with the the FlexShooter Pro. The FlexShooter Pro offers a lower profile and by centering the bubble in the scribed circle I am able to follow birds walking on the ground knowing that the images will be level. The Mongoose cannot do that unless you are able to level the bubble in the scribed circle on the Mongoose; this is a nearly impossible task. Simply setting up the tripod inside I=the vehicle is a cumbersome task. But you will wind up with sharper images on average than when working off the Mongoose or the Wimberley heads. As above, it is easy to follow foraging Cattle Egret for example and have the birds square to the world. Lastly, depending on the size of the interior of your vehicle, you can even do some flight photography (but obviously with a somewhat limited side-to-side range.

One thing to know: if you need to get out of your vehicle quickly after the tripod is set up properly while you are in the driver’s seat it ain’t gonna happen. 🙂

There is a dead tree at the very end of the South Field at ILE that I have been checking every morning for the past few weeks. Both species of vultures — predominated by Black Vulture — have begun roosting there in early morning. When I framed this image the bird on our left was standing up and I was having trouble framing the shot as I could not get an AF array anywhere near its head — I wanted the branch lower right coming out of the corner … I was thinking of using my Nikon hold focus technique and recomposing when suddenly the problematic bird sat down on the branch to rest. That made my life a lot easier AF-wise. I was happy that a cloud covered the sun for this series of photos.

Osprey-landing-with-half-eaten-fish-for-young-_MAI0712-Indian-Lake-Estates-FL

This image was also created on the morning of April 25, 2019 near my home at Indian Lake Estates, FL. Standing at full height away from my vehicle, I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens and the mega mega-pixel Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO 400. Matrix metering at about +1/3 stop: 1/4000 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode was perfect with the histogram pushed all the way to the right. AUTO1 WB at 8:09am on a mostly sunny morning.

Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +3. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon/AI Servo with Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the secondaries of the bird’s left wing (as originally framed).

Image #2: Osprey landing at nest with a half-eaten fish for young

Be sure to click on the image to see the bright yellow iris in the larger version.

The FlexShooter Pro for Flight

There are many Osprey nests down by the lake. There are several near the pier on platforms atop utility poles, and a few natural nests scattered about — at least two in the afore-mentioned South Field. The nests on the utility poles are best for flight photography as they are wide open. Last Thursday morning we had a nice northeast wind in the morning as it cleared so I set up my tripod topped by my FlexShooter Pro near the lowest utility pole nest. Within minutes the male returned with a half-eaten fish for its three large chicks. I made several images with Image #2 immediately above being the best of the sequence by far. I found doing flight photography with the FlexShooter to be an efficient and effective pleasure. With the Silver Bullet Knob loosened there is still just the right small amount of tension on the small ball.

FlexShooter Pro Complete Info

If you are at all interested in the FlexShooter Pro and missed yesterday’s short and to the point blog post, you can learn a ton more here.

Your Favorite and Why

All are invited to leave a comment indicating which of today’s two featured images they like best along with the reason or reasons they made their choice.

Fort-DeSoto-2019-new-card

Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, many in full breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: Laughing Gull landing on head of Brown Pelican, Laughing Gull in flight, Reddish Egret sunrise silhouette, Great Blue Heron with needlefish, Yellow-crowned Night Heron with ghost crab, Roseate Spoonbill, Sanderling in breeding plumage, and white morph Reddish Egret in glorious breeding plumage.

The 2019 Fort DeSoto Short-Notice Sandbar Secrets IPT/Sunday May 5 through the morning session on Wednesday May 8, 2019: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1649. Limit 4/Openings: 2. Meet and greet at 7PM on the evening of Saturday May 4.

I will run this with a single registrant. Airport pick-up might be available as is riding with the leader. Combine those to avoid having to rent a car.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for a great variety of migrant shorebirds, gulls, terns, and passerines in Spring. Many of the gulls and terns will be courting and copulating. There the migrants join hundreds of Florida resident egrets, herons, night-herons, and pelicans on the T-shaped peninsula. We should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. 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 many of those will be in their spectacular breeding plumages. Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is a strong possibility. We may get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three years. And we should enjoy some great 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. Yikes, I almost forgot to mention that nearly all of the birds are ridiculously tame!

Fort-DeSoto-Card

Yes, Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, most in breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph Reddish Egret displaying, Laughing Gull vertical front-end portrait, Laughing Gull with prey item, landing on head of Brown Pelican, breeding plumage Royal Tern displaying, Royal Terns — pre-copulatory stance, Laughing Gulls copulating, Laughing Gull head portrait, breeding plumage Sandwich Tern with fish, and a rare treat, a breeding plumage White-rumped Sandpiper.

Just some of the stuff you will learn …

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).

Fort-DeSoto-Card-B

Again, Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, most in breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: Laughing Gull in flight, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Sandwich Terns copulating, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, breeding plumage Short-billed Dowitcher, American Oystercatcher, Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret in marsh.

What we do

There will be seven shooting sessions in all: four 3+ hours morning session and three 2 1/2 hour afternoon sessions. There will be Photoshop/image review/critiquing sessions during lunch (lunch is included) on each of the three full days. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel/lodging information. Airport pick-up might be available as is riding with the leader. Combine those to avoid having to rent a car.

DeSoto-recent-CARD

You got it, Fort DeSoto in spring is rife with tame birds, most in breeding plumage. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left around to center: Roseate Spoonbill, immature Brown Pelican in flight, the heron/egret hybrid, American Oystercatcher feeding, immature Royal Tern on railing, Great Egret morning silhouette, Black Skimmer in surf, and underside head portrait of Great Blue Heron.

Signing Up

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 four 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 on the evening of Saturday May 4. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Folks attending this IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. 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.

If In Doubt …

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 :).

6 comments to Desperately Seeking Susan? An e-mail from Lana. And the First FlexShooter Pro Images — flight photography, and from the tripod inside the car!

  • Hey Arthur, Im going with image #1. Neat to see two perched vultures. I see photos of osprey all the time. Nice to see something different.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks John. I love your smashing goats e-mail address. How did you come up with that one?

      with love, artie

  • Hi Artie, my favourite has to be image #2, absolutely stunning. What caused the gradient in the sky?
    Jake

  • avatar Sandra Calderbank

    Thanks for all your fantastic work!
    Can you please post the dimensions of the Flex Shooter Pro?
    Specifically the height.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Sandra, Good question. All dimensions of these dimensions are approximate, as good as I could do with a metal rule. The FlexShooter Pro is 3 3/4 inches tall. The diameter at the base if 3 inches. The diameter at the waist is about 3 3/4 inches. From the end of the Silver Bullet Knob to the opposite edge of the clamp jaw is 4 3/16 inches. From the end of the clamp knob to the opposite edge of the clamp jaw is 4 7/16 inches.

      Based on those I have seen over the years, I would class the FlexShooter Pro as a solid, medium-sized ballhead.

      with love, artie

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