Gannetry Insanity: The Best Tool for the Job is the Best Tool for the Job! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Gannetry Insanity: The Best Tool for the Job is the Best Tool for the Job!

What’s Up?

I started this blog post in the club at Edinburgh Airport and completed most of it offline on my flight to Newark. I reached into the carrying pouch on the front of my sweatshirt for my i-phone 8+ only to find that it was not there. A careful search of my person and my laptop bag did not turn it up. Perhaps it will find its way back to me. Or not. I’ve learned through The Work that if my phone is indeed lost, that that would be the best thing that could have happened. And I can prove it. How? It happened. Beating our heads against the wall of reality is a choice that I try not make πŸ™‚

One evening over dinner on the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT the group was discussing their favorite children’s books. I. mentioned Mazie the lazy bird and was stunned that nobody had heard of Horton Hatches the Egg. So I went online, found the text, and did a poetry reading. Everyone liked it and first-timer Shonagh Adleman loved it. If you are looking for a gift for a small child you cannot go wrong by. getting them a copy of Horton Hatches the Egg.

Jim picked me up at 5:30pm as scheduled. We stopped for dinner and were home by 8:00pm. After the long travel day, I went right to bed and was up and wide awake before 2:00am. Hello, jet lag. I did manage to get back to sleep off and on for a few hours.

Your Favorite?

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

Coming Soon

I will be announcing the Fort DeSoto Fall Sandbar Secrets IPT very 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.



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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.

Northern-Gannetry-near-old-prison-_BUP5588-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 135mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR.

ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus two stops off the sky was about minus one stop as framed: 1/2000 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 10:52am on a drizzly day.

Center d-9 Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #1: Gannets, klittiwakes, guillemots, murres, and the old prison on Bass Rock.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Prison on Bass Rock

Stories of the old prison on Bass Rock describe horrific conditions. I framed as wide as possible to show the structure while avoiding the gannet-filled shelf just above the prison wall. I placed the two windows in the lower right; they might represent eyes, a window to the past if you would, through which we might imagine the horrors that took place there centuries ago.

Northern-Gannet-adult-inj-flight-near-BAss-Rock-_BUP6302-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 155mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops off the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:43am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #2: Northern Gannet, adult in flight — Bass Rock in the background

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Including the Rock

When we got out to the rock, the drizzle increased to rain so Captain Gordon took us on a tour around the Rock. That was when I created Image #1 above. Soon the rain let up and the mate began feeding the gannets. We had two large boxes of small flatfish, some type of flounder or sole. They are a bycatch that die in the mesh of fishing nets used to catch larger food fish. In a way, this bycatch is recycled by the gannets. As mackerel — the gannet’s main food source — have pretty much disappeared from the North Sea in recent years, such feeding surely cannot hurt.

Anyhoo, with the gentle winds from just the right direction, it was easy to include some or all of Bass Rock in the backgrounds of our images.

Northern-Gannet-immature-ready-to-dive-_BUP6097-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 145mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops of the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:31am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #3: Northern Gannet juvenile ready to dive

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Giant Soft Box

With the overcast skies, it was as if we were working in a giant softbox that provided soft, perfect light for gannet photography. Note that the exposures for all of the flight shots were identical. I did change the shutter speed briefly once or twice.

Northern-Gannet-formation-and-Bass-Rock-_BUP5707-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 200mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops of the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:06am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #4: Northern Gannet flight squadron

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Advantages of Blasting Away

For several years now, I have watched multiple IPT participant and very good friend Anita North blasting away at any bird that moves I caution her often, You’re taking too many pictures including hundreds of bad ones. You’re gonna have to edit 5000 images if you keep that up. Your hard drive is gonna be full again!. But, too many times I have seen her come up with amazing photographs, images that folks with a more conservative shooting strategy (like me, and probably like you too), would and could have never made. Recently, I have — taking a cue from Anita, pressing the shutter button more frequently than I have in the past.

Most of my 180-some-odd keepers from the gannet boat trip featured a single bird in flight. Northern Gannet flight squadron is, however, the result of the more aggressive approach that I have learned from Anita.

Northern-Gannet-upside-down-dive-_BUP5986-Dunbar-Scotland-1

This image was also created on July 9 near Bass Rock, Scotland on the 2019 UK Puffins and Gannets IPT with the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR lens (at 155mm) and the Nikon D850 DSLR. ISO: 800. Matrix Metering plus about 1 2/3 stops of the grey sky: 1/2500 sec. at f/4.5 in Manual mode. AWB at 11:24am on a drizzly day.

Center Group (grp) Continuous (C in Nikon and SONY, AI Servo in Canon) AF was active at the moment of exposure.

AF Fine-tune value: +4 at 200mm.

Image #5: Northern Gannet — updside down dive

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The Best Tool for the Job is the Best Tool for the Job!

I’ve been photographing gannets aboard the Fisher Lassie for about five years. The action is always non-stop frantic. I realized right off the bat that lenses like the 80- and 100-400mm zooms were too long and too heavy. I realized also that the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses while they offer just the right focal length range, are simply too heavy for most folks (especially me). My solution has been to go with a 70-200mm f/4 lens. Both the Canon and the Nikon versions are light enough to handhold for more than an hour. Both have excellent power-zoom ratios; a single turn of the wrist gets you from 70mm to 200mm and then back again. And best of all, at f/4, I had a one-stop ISO advantage over the rest of the gang working at f/5.6.

Consider …

Do consider the amazing versatility of a 70-200mm f/4 lens as shown by today’s featured images.

Bosque-2019-big-card

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.





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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.

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Typos

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9 comments to Gannetry Insanity: The Best Tool for the Job is the Best Tool for the Job!

  • Hey Arthur, Image #1 like the setting and all the white birds against the dark rocks. The images tells more of a story then the other ones. Still all are nice frames.

  • avatar Adam

    1 & 3. 3 for the reasons that others have observed, however image 1 is compelling if people spend a bit of time looking closely and exploring the magnitude.

  • avatar Brendan

    My favorite is #3 (though all are lovely). I am particularly taken by the open mouth and the wing/body position. It really feels as if an instant is captured at exactly the perfect and unique moment – more so than the others (to me), which feel as if they would look similar if they were a second or two later or earlier. I recognize, of course, how that feeling is incorrect, but that’s the feeling I get looking at it.

    The body position of #3 really gives a sense of the athleticism and nimbleness of these huge birds in the air. It looks as if he/she is stopping on a dime and changing course mid-conversation with some off-screen friend or foe….

  • avatar Matt

    The context of #4 makes it my favorite. Doesn’t hurt to have that receding pattern created by the other birds, and it almost looks like the birds are cued up to have their pictures taken! Love the cliff, helps delineate the horizon. The subject bird is just as sharp and well exposed as the others, but the surrounding information makes it an event.

  • avatar Ted Willcox

    Images #3 and #5 are spectacular! When first seeing image #3 I thought because of it position in the frame. the position of it’s wings, mouth open, landing gear down, what could beat that? And then I saw image #5, all I can say is Wow!

  • avatar Dale Longfellow

    Number 4 because it tells a complete story.

  • I choose number 3 because I like the way the bird appears.

  • Hello Artie,
    Was wondering your opinion of the Nikon 70-300 f/4-5.6 af-p lens for hand holding birds in flight. Would the extra 100mm be worth the loss of one stop of light?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Peg,

      On the gannet boat, the one-stop advantage was huge for me and 200mm was more than enough focal length. The 70-300 is a walk-around/travel lens that costs 1/3 of the 70-200 f/4 … I have no clue as to how this lens would do for birds in flight but would not expect that it would perform anywhere as good as the 70-200 VR.

      I liked some of your images, especially the high-key waxwings and that killer chickadee image.

      with love, artie

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