Black-headed Gull Studies, More on My SONY Strategy, Chioce of Perspective, and a Flight Photography Tip: The Importance of Guess-timating the focal length, Esti-Zooming, or Zoom-stimating « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Black-headed Gull Studies, More on My SONY Strategy, Chioce of Perspective, and a Flight Photography Tip: The Importance of Guess-timating the focal length, Esti-Zooming, or Zoom-stimating

What’s Up?

We had a bit of bad weather luck (it was sunny) on our last two days at Seahouses and our first gannet boat trip that was scheduled for Monday afternoon was weathered-out — the swells were too big. But we finished with a huge bang and great fortune on a slightly drizzly morning photographing baited diving gannets at point-blank range near Bass Rock, Scotland. It was 100% shop to you drop fantastic. Most of the boys and girls fly home tomorrow, Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

BirdPhotographer’s.Net is back online after nine days of web darkness, our longest outage ever. Thanks to Peter Kes for solving a very thorny problem.

Coming Soon

I will be announcing the Fort DeSoto Fall Sandbar Secrets IPT soon. Both Bosque IPTs and the San Diego IPT are wide open. Click here to see the IPT listings.

Publication Delay πŸ™

Publication of the The BAA Middle of Florida Photographic Site Guide, co-written and co-illustrated by Joe Przybyla and yours truly has been delayed as yours truly screwed up the PDF. Once that new e-Guide is released, the publication of Focus on Frogs – An Illustrated Guide to Great Photography was written and illustrated by Andrew McLachlan and edited for readability by yours truly will follow. Each of these new e-Guides is lavishly illustrated with images that will educate and inspire. Both will sell for $50.00 via electronic download.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We are sold out on the newly-arrived FLN-60 BigFeet recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.



BIRDS AS ART

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

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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.

Black-headed-Gull-larege-chick-_A7R6562-Seahouses-UK-1

This image was created on July 7 at Staple Island on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 420mm) and the mega mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO: 1000. Exposure set via the Zebra feature with Multi Metering: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 2:36pm on a variably cloudy day.

(Continuous) AF was active at the moment of exposure. Expand Flexible Spot (S) was placed somewhere on the bird’s head. Unfortunately, there is no software that allows users to determine either the AF pattern or the selected AF point. This is quite unfortunate. If I am incorrect, please let me know by leaving a comment with a reference.

Image #1: Black-headed Gull — large chick

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Great Opportunity!

Thanks to first-time IPT participant Shonagh Adelman and multiple IPT participant Anita North for opening my eyes to the great opportunities to photograph Black-headed Gulls of all ages at the left-center path pond on Staple. I’d seen the young birds there for years without realizing how many great chances were there for the taking and making. The bird in Image #1 is a large fat unfledged chick.

My Current Sony Strategy

As you see clearly when studying today’s featured images, my current SONY approach is to use the a9 mostly with the 1.4X TC for flight and action and to switch to the a7R iii with the 1.4X TC for static or for slowly moving subjects. Again, this is somewhat of a pain in the neck, but the results are well worth it. If you are st up with the a7R iii and a flight or action opportunity develops suddenly you just have to go for it. Flight photography with the a9 is light-years better than with the a7R iii while a7R iii image quality is — as expected — much better than a9 IQ. As expected, the more I use the SONY gear the more familiar and adept I become at handling and working with the camera. And last but not least, using the 2X TC to get to 800mm with the 100-400 GM is a viable option (as see in the previous blog post).

Black-headed-Gull-fledlling-swiming-_A7R6575-Seahouses-UK-1

This image was also created on July 7 at Staple Island on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 560mm) and the mega mega-pixel Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO: 800. Exposure set via the Zebra feature with Multi Metering: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 2:37pm on a variably cloudy day.

(Continuous) AF was active at the moment of exposure. Expand Flexible Spot (S) was placed somewhere on the bird’s head or neck. Unfortunately, there is no software that allows users to determine either the AF pattern or the selected AF point. This is quite unfortunate. If I am incorrect, please let me know by leaving a comment with a reference.

Image #2: Black-headed Gull — fledged juvenile swimming

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Changing the Background

For most of the afternoon at this spot, I was able to change the background from grey or an ugly greenish-grey to a rather pleasant blue — the reflection of a small bit of clear blue sky. It was fun working these birds with the very pleasant first-timer from Denmark, Carsten Andersen.

The young fledged and flying gull in Image #2 is about ten days older than the large chick in Image #1.

Black-headed-Gull-juvenile-landing-_A9A5012-Seahouses-UK-1

This image was also created on July 7 at Staple Island. For this one I used the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 428mm) and the blazingly fast AF king, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera ISO: 1000. Exposure set via the Zebra feature with Multi Metering: 1/2000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 3:10pm on a variably cloudy day.
Continuous center Zone AF.

Image #3: Black-headed Gull — fledged young landing

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

SONY 9 Initial Focusing Acquisition

The speed of initial focusing acquisition with the SONY a9 slays any camera that I have ever worked with including the Nikon D5 and the Canon 1DX II. Absolutely slays. And center Zone AF works superbly for birds in flight, especially as we saw in the last blog post, with birds flying right at you. That true even with the 1.4X teleconverter.

Black-headed-Gull-adult-in-flight-_A9A5209-Seahouses-UK-1

This image was also created on July 7 at Staple Island. Again I used the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 416mm) and the blazingly fast AF king, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera ISO: 1000. Exposure set via the Zebra feature with Multi Metering: 1/2000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 3:25pm on a variably cloudy day.

Continuous center Zone AF.

Image #4: Black-headed Gull — adult in flight

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Flight Photography Tip: The Importance of Guess-timating the focal length, Esti-Zooming, or Zoom-stimating

When photographing birds flying towards you at fairly close range with a zoom lens, guess-timating the focal length, esti-zooming, or zoom-stimating to a wider focal length than the maximum (of 560mm in this case), is an important skill to and develop and to practice. What am I talking about? You see a bird turning towards you or flying right at you and you realize that it will be much too big in the frame at some point, so you make an educated guess and zoom out quickly to a focal length of your choosing. Once you get good at it you will find that lots of birds fit nicely into the frame. With slow-flying birds, it is possible to zoom out slowly as they approach, but that strategy does not work with fast-flying birds

SONY a9 ii?

I am enjoying the rumors concerning a SONY a9 ii “before the Olympics.” If it has 35 megapixels or so, I want the first one πŸ™‚

Your Favorite?

Please leave a comment letting us know which of today’s four featured images is your favorite and why you made your choice.

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Bosque del Apache 2019 IPTs

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

2019 Bosque del Apache IPTs

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Return to Bosque IPT #2. NOV 29 (afternoon session thru DEC 4 (morning session) — 5 DAYS (4 full and two half): $2249.00. Limit: 10/Openings: 9. Introductory Meet and greet at 2:00pm on FRI 29 NOV.

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. My understanding is that things have improved dramatically in recent years. Photography-wise, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

I go with one registrant. Lunch is included on all full days of each workshop.

Free Morning Session

Sign up for either IPT and enjoy a free morning session on Friday, 29 NOV.

$500 Multiple IPT Discount

Join me for both IPTs and we will be glad to apply a $500 multiple IPT discount.

To Register

To register, send your non-refundable $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your non-refundable deposit on a credit card. Balances must be paid in full by check no later than three months before the IPT. If you cancel, all but your deposit will be refunded only if the IPT sells out.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel 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.

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 BAA Online Store πŸ™‚

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 :).

5 comments to Black-headed Gull Studies, More on My SONY Strategy, Chioce of Perspective, and a Flight Photography Tip: The Importance of Guess-timating the focal length, Esti-Zooming, or Zoom-stimating

  • Good morning Guru (it’s 9.30 am here). Hope this message finds you in good health.

    I agree with your opinion that Canon no longer is the most preferred camera brand for nature or wildlife photography. Perhaps they have lost interest in camera business or else, they are unable to compete in the modern market.

    That’s why I keenly followed your takes on Nikon systems. Based on that, decided to procure Nikon D500 (their best APS-C DSLR) and Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF prime lens. This will be quite a light hand-holdable combo. However, it will take a while to implement my plan.

    In this connection, I would humbly like to state that, I did not get carried away by the mirrorless hype. IMO it does not offer anything significantly different from DSLRs. On top of it, sensor speed of transfer can never match the speed of light. And also, the weight difference is nominal at best. Image quality of DSLRs are still great among all types of cameras.

    Guru, kindly note, these are my personal opinion that has nothing to do with others. I always deeply respect your opinions and suggestions. Take care.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi. Quazi,

      I have no idea which brand is most preferred for nature photography; I just try to use what works best for me πŸ™‚

      There are many great things and some lousy things about Canon, Nikon, and SONY πŸ™‚

      with love and wishes for good luck.
      a

  • avatar Paul Burdett

    Hi Artie,
    First off…great to have BPN back up again. Secondly I received my B&H voucher…thanks again.
    Now, my pick is image #4. Love that sharp face and bokeh BG. #3 is a close second and would have been my first choice had you got the full reflection of the bird.
    Cheers
    Paul

  • avatar Mike Ross

    Hi Artie,

    You don’t mention it but I am assuming you have tracking sensitivity set to 5 (responsive)?

    Best Regards,

    Mike

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