Setting the Scene. More on the importance of choosing the best perspective … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Setting the Scene. More on the importance of choosing the best perspective ...

What’s Up?

On my 2.3 mile Sunday morning walk, I had 33 species of birds including all four dove species and eight wading bird species along with a Pileated Woodpecker and several Eastern Bluebirds. Last week I saw my first-ever ILE Black Tern that was possibly — heck — probably, Dorian-related. I am doing lots of walking and swimming and stretching and getting (just a bit) fitter. With Jennifer’s help, I should be able to finish up my 2019 tax return stuff on Tuesday.

See below if you would like to pre-order a FlexShooter Pro Mini; we have sold three already.

Congrats both to Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev on their amazing performance in the finals of the US Open tennis tournament last night. Whew!

IPT News!

I learned last week that Mary van Deusen and her friend Patti Romano will be driving down from South Carolina (they survived Dorian …) to join UK Puffins and Gannets veteran Shonagh Adelman on the 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT at the end of this month. Then things got even better when DeSoto IPT veteran Jim Miller e-mailed letting me know that he would also be joining us. Everyone is excited. There are still two spots left on this great workshop. Do check out the Extra Day options that were recently added to the Bosque IPT.

IPT Updates

  • The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Free Morning Session on Tuesday, October 1. Limit 6/Openings 2. Afternoon session on Friday, September 25 at 4pm, followed by three full days. We photograph till sunset on Monday, September 30
  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • 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: 5)

Click here for complete. IPT info. Couples, IPT veterans, and folks wishing to sign up with a friend or with a partner are asked to contact me via e-mail

BigFoot-COMPAT

FlexShooter Pro News

All FlexShooter Pro BigFeet are now in stock in the BAA Online Store. You can click on the chart above or here for more information.

Coming Soon

The FlexShooter Mini

Several months ago I had a FlexShooter Mini to test on both the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT and the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime. It is a smaller, lighter (one pound!) version of the amazing FlexShooter Pro. I used it often with both the Nikon 500 PF and the SONY 100-400 GM with great success and in a pinch, I was able to make sharper images with the Nikon 600 and the TC-E14. All with the Mini mounted on the lighter Induro GIT 204. I suggested to developer/manufacturer Csaba Karai that the Mini needed a bit more spring tension. A new batch with my suggested changes should be in stock in about two weeks.

The FlexShooter Mini with the lighter Induro GIT 204 is dead-solid-perfect for those whose intermediate telephoto or telephoto zoom is their workhorse lens for bird and nature photography. It will sell for $579 plus shipping. Folks who wish to be assured of getting one from our first shipment can order theirs by phone by calling Jim at 863-692-0906 asap. Your card will not be charged until your Mini is shipped.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have only four FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We have all but one of the BigFeet in stock (phone orders only for now: 863-692-0906) but are sold out of the new FLN-60 BigFoot that was recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.

IPT Updates

  • The 2019 Fall Sandbar Secrets Fort DeSoto IPT/September 27-30, 2019: One-half and three FULL DAYS: $1499.00. Free Morning Session on Tuesday, October 1. Limit 6/Openings 2. Afternoon session on Friday, September 25 at 4pm, followed by three full days. We photograph till sunset on Monday, September 30
  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three extra In-the-Field Days at the end of the IPT as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.
  • 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: 5)

Click here for complete. IPT info. Couples, IPT veterans, and folks wishing to sign up with a friend or with a partner are asked to contact me via e-mail

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 getting folks the hot new SONY stuff: the 200-600, the 600 f/4 GM, and the 7R iv. And the wait-list is short for the Nikon 500 P.



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.

Flightless-Cormorant-nests-on-lava-rock-A-_DSC5100-1

This image was created on the morning of July 25, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime. I used the handheld Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 lens at 35mm with the Sony Alpha a7R III Mirrorless digital camera body. ISO: 500. Multi metering with Zebras: 1/640 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 10.39am on a solidly overcast morning.

Image #1: Flightless Cormorant nests on lava rock

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Setting the Scene

Back in the days when I wrote prolifically for the various birding magazines, I would send a tightly edited submission with a dozen or so clean tight portraits of the birds mentioned in the articles. Editors would always ask, “Do you have an establishing shot?” I replied, “What’s an establishing shot?” They would explain that they needed a photograph to set the scene, to show the habitat, and to give the reader an understanding of the situation. That’s why I always made sure to have a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens in my vest. When I switched to Nikon, that became the (far sharper) Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR. And there is a very good chance that there will be a Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 lens in my future. And yes, there are lots of implications there …

Though I rarely write for magazine publication anymore, I continue to strive to create good establishing shots as they can help tell the story and explain the situation both here on the blog and in slide programs. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. The image above does a great job of setting the scene detailed in the Flightless Cormorant Nest with Eggs blog post here.

Many times I will use an intermediate telephoto zoom lens at the widest setting to create a bird-scape to show the situation. But on this day, I made the landing with only the Nikon 500 PF. I knew the image that I wanted to create but I did not have the right tool so I asked Anita North if I could borrow her SONY 24-105 and she kindly complied. Thanks again, Anita.

Flightless-Cormorant-wing-detail-_BUP7168-Punta-Albemarle-Isabela-Galapagos-1

This image was also created on the morning of July 25, 2019 on the Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime. I used the handheld Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens and my souped-up Nikon D850 ISO: 800. Matrix metering +2 1/3 stops off the light gray sky: 1/400 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode. Natural Light AUTO1 WB at 9:58am on a solidly overcast morning.

Center d-25 Continous AF was active at the moment of exposure. Nikon Focus Peaking fine-tune value: +4. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Image #2: Flightless Cormorant wing detail

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Flightless Cormorant

From the CornellLab of Ornithology website here:

The Flightless Cormorant is the only cormorant that has lost the ability to fly. Restricted to Fernandina and Isabela islands in the Galapagos archipelago, this species has a small population averaging about 1000 individuals. It is a large, brown cormorant with a relatively large head and small wings with very reduced remiges. The wings are useful, however, for maneuvering during surface-dives in search of fish, octopus, and squid. The population fluctuates widely with marine productivity. This species breeds year-round, sometimes twice in a year. Nests are constructed of seaweed and placed among the rocks above the high tide mark, generally in loose associations of several pairs.

Perspective Question

Why was it vitally important to the success Image #2 that I crouched down?

Your Call?

Which of today’s two featured images do you like best? Each has something different going for it so be sure to let us know why you made your choice.

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 🙂

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

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

8 comments to Setting the Scene. More on the importance of choosing the best perspective …

  • avatar Matt

    I agree with the speculation on crouching for background selection, which is important for separation, cleanliness, and contrast. But perhaps equally important is that which David hit on– by crouching to that level, you have placed your sensor plane parallel to the plane of the feathers across the full length of the wing, thereby ensuring all the feathers would be not only in the same depth of field but of equal sharpness (given the shooter’s ability). A higher angle would change the depth of field from the wing “arm” to the feather tips, softening focus somewhere from top to bottom depending on the focal point placement.

    At 500mm and f7.1, that shift in DoF may be negligible– especially if this were a sizeable crop (meaning a greater distance to subject). I suspect it was not a crop, however, in which case you were close and had to go to F7.1 for insurance. As you have taught us time and again, the closer you are to your subject the less DoF margin you have.

    Is any part of the recipe is more important than the other? It seems between background selection and sensor to body plane alignment, background might be more important because without an appealing and effective background, even a sharp subject can flop.

  • The answer to the question why crouch down is to ensure that you have clean background. I would say to get white background and avoid dark spots intersecting the feathers.

  • On #2 it looks like crouching down gave you the white part of the background (whatever it is) instead of the dark lines which would have cut across the wing. Also you got the whole length of the wing feathers instead of the tops of them hidden under the wing bones– if you were close enough for that to happen. You must have been close since the body feathers are out of focus. Being perpendicular to the wing made the whole length of feather sharp as well. And, made it clear that the feathers were the subject, not the wing bone.

  • avatar Guido Bee

    I think if you had not crouched down, your background in shot 2 would have been the ground close behind the wing. That would likely be distracting and lose the contrast and clarity the white background provides. Also, being lower might have made your alignment more perpendicular to the plane of the wing, keeping it sharper from end to end.
    Of the two shots, I think both serve a worthwhile purpose, and one would not stand without the other. Each is something of the end of the spectrum: the wide and the finer details of the subject. I like the details in the second shot better; the first serves its purpose, to show the environment, illustrates the difficulty in picking out the subjects from the background. Kind of makes you search for the subjects.
    Glad you survived / avoided Dorian.
    All the best.

  • avatar David Policansky

    Hi, Artie. I’d guess that if you hadn’t crouched down, you would not have been able to include the distant hills (mountains). I prefer the close-up of the wing, because it’s such a weird little wing and I like the composition and color. The “establishing shot” is fine, but less attractive to me.

    A note for Canon users. The Canon EF 24-105 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens is sharper, much lighter, and much less expensive than the EF 24-105 f/4L IS II lens. The STM is not as well built or rugged, but you can buy two or even three for the price of one of the L lenses. It matches beautifully with any of Canon’s “full-frame” DSLRs.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hey David, Thanks as always for commenting. The “why crouch down?” question was meant for Image #2; I rephrased it in the text to avoid any confusion.

      with love, artie

      • avatar David Policansky

        Thanks, Artie. It seems to me that you got a better angle of the wing feathers by crouching. If you’d been taller, you would have been in effect sighting down those feathers instead of looking at their full extension.

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