Making Soup from a Stone. Preening Bird Basics. How I Use my SONY 600mm f/4 GM. And the luxury of sharp 61-megapixel files … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Making Soup from a Stone. Preening Bird Basics. How I Use my SONY 600mm f/4 GM. And the luxury of sharp 61-megapixel files ...

What’s Up?

Not much. Swimming every day and eating well. I was thrilled to learn yesterday that Doug Jackson is planning on joining the Bosque IPT. I was glad to learn yesterday that Steve Elkins of Bedford Camera is delivering yet another hard-to-get SONY 200-600mm lens to a happy BAA blog regular this week.

Exciting News!

Yesterday, I removed the foot from my SONY 600 f/4 GM lens and sent it UPS overnight to Walter Zeiss at 4th Generation Design. Once he has the exact measurements, he will be creating two CRX-style mounts (a low and an ultra-low version) for SONY along with a new longest-ever CRX-style plate. One of these will be ideal for all tripod heads (especially the FlexShooter Pro) and all the big SONY lenses including the 600 GM, the 400 GM, and the 200-600 G. More soon.

Great News

The long-delayed FlexShooter Pro Minis should be ready for shipping this week with arrival expected next week.

Need System or Upgrade Advice?

These are certainly exciting and volatile times in bird and nature photography: Canon, Nikon, SONY? Upgrade or switch systems? Yikes! If you are thinking about switching or upgrading and have questions, feel free to call me on my cell at 863-221-2372 for a free ten-minute consultation. The only thing that I ask in return is that you make a firm commitment to use my B&H affiliate links or to buy from Bedford using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout if you decide to go forward. Remember that Steve Elkins at Bedford can save you a few additional bucks on lens/camera/accessories packages. See the blog for his contact details. Either way, it will not cost you one penny more.

Be sure to leave a message if I do not pick up and I will get back to you. And please follow that up with an e-mail or a text stating your name and a good time for me to call you back. I spend lots of time each day walking, swimming, and watching football and baseball 🙂 And napping.

IPT Updates

  • The Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 4. 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)

Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the EOS-1DX, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D, and the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

The Used Gear page has been hot lately with the continuing price drops on Canon and Nikon gear. There are still lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page.

Recent Sales

Top Used Gear page seller Anthony Ardito sold his gripped Nikon D850 in like-new condition for only $2,399.00, his Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens in like-new condition for only $3,396.95, his Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens in like-new condition for $1,796.95, and his Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED-IF lens in like-new condition for only $1,196.95, all during October 2019.
I sold my lightly used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens in Excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $9796.95 in late October 2019.
John Nelson sold his Canon 500mm f/4 IS USM lens (the “old five”) in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $2749.00 in mid-October 2019.
Multiple IPT participant Larry Master sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for a BAA record-low $5,989.00 and his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in like-new condition for $2099.00.
BAA friend and multiple IPT veteran Paul Reinstein sold a Canon Extender EF 2X III teleconverter in excellent condition for only $229.00 the first day it was listed in mid-October.
Top BAA Used Gear page seller Jim Keener sold his Canon mount Zeiss Distagon T 15mm f/2.8 ZE lens in like-new condition for the crazy low price of $799.00 (was $949.00) in early October 2019.
Allen Dale sold a Canon 300mm f2.8L IS II USM lens in excellent condition for $3399.00 in early October 2019.

Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera Body

Peter Noyes is offering a Sony Alpha A7R III Mirrorless Digital Camera body in like-new condition with a shutter count of less than 1,000 for $1998.00. The sale includes the original box and everything that came in it along with insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Peter Noyes via e-mail or by phone at 1-(567) 356-0878 Eastern Standard Time.

The a7r III was my main camera body on the last Galapagos trip. You’ve seen the images… I made tons of great photos — including flight shots — with the 7r III and the SONY 100-400. With relatively static subjects, I often used the 1.4X TC with success. Simply put, the a7r iii is a great camera body. It is selling new right now at B&H for $2498.00 and the new a7r IV is going for $3,498.00! You can save a very cool $500.00 by grabbing Peter’s a7r iii right now. artie

200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR Zoom Lens

Price Reduced $100.00 on 11-4-2019

Blog-regular Anthony Ardito is also offering a Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E ED AF-S VR Zoom lens in like-new condition for the very low price of $799.95 (was $899.95). The sale includes the original product box with all of the factory accessories/operating manuals and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. This lens was originally purchased from Bedford’s Camera one year ago with the USA warranty. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Anthony Ardito via e-mail.

This inexpensive Nikon-starter super-telephoto zoom lens is sharp and versatile. It was my first big Nikon lens. I fell in love with it instantly and used it until the 500 PF was released. At that time, I went to the Nikon 80-400 VR for its versatility. artie


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

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 over $1000.00, 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 has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.

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 on November 2, 2019 with the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the the 61-MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital Camera Body. ISO 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/320 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual mode was about +1 on the analog scale. AWB at 8:13am on a partly cloudy morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking AF. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Wood Stork preening neck/upper breast

Making Soup from a Stone

As I mentioned in the last blog post, Sebastian Inlet was not very good last Friday and Saturday. Even though the conditions for fishing Osprey were worse on Saturday, I persevered and found some cooperative Wood Storks in the shade of the bridge. I kept nine images in all. That beat Friday all to pieces.

Preening Image Basics

If I’ve said (and written) it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times: When photographing a preening bird strive to have the bird’s face and bill perfectly parallel to the back of the camera and have the eye visible. I’ve also long-encouraged folks to take lots of images when everything is lined up as it should be.

Following my own advice, I made about 15 images of the preening stork in a very few seconds. As fate would have it, in the one with the absolutely dead-solid-perfect head angle, a second Wood Stork was just walking into the frame lower left. See the original capture immediately below.

What is your favorite part of today’s featured image? I will share mine here with you in a few days.

Using the 600mm f/4 Lenses

Now that I am absolutely confident in my ability to create sharp images at 840 and 1200mm with my SONY gear, I would say that I use the bare lens alone about 10% of the time, the lens with the 1.4X TC about 70% of the time, and the lens with the 2x probably about 20% of the time, on average. As I get more familiar with my SONY gear I am becoming just as not if more confident in it at 1200mm than I was with my Canon gear. And that is saying a lot.

Capture One screen capture of full-frame RAW file

Losing the Unwanted Guest …

As noted above, in the image with the perfect head angle, a second Wood Stork walked into the frame. What to do? With the superb image quality of the a7r IV’s 61-megapixel files, I knew that a proportionate crop from the bottom left would eliminate most of the intruder while leaving me with a large, high-quality file. After converting the ARW file in Capture One, I brought it into Photoshop and eliminated the second bird with the Clone Stamp Tool set to 30% hardness. Then I selected the bird with the Magic Wand Tool, applied a layer of my NIK 30-30 Detail Extractor/Tonal Contrast recipe, and finished that off with a Contrast Mask: Unsharp Mask at 12/60/0. I was left with a highly detailed, superbly sharp (flattened/8-bit) 138.1 megabyte TIF file.

Capture One 100% screen capture of the unsharpened RAW file

a7r IV Fine Detail

As you have seen here before, and as you will surely see here again, the fine details of a sharp (but unsharpened) a7r IV RAW file are breathtaking.

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPT

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 IPT

Return to Bosque Reduced Rate Scouting IPT #1. NOV 26-28, 2019 — 3 FULL DAYS: $1199.00. Limit: 8/Openings: 6. Introductory Meet and greet at 7pm on MON 25 NOV.

Extra Day Options: Join me for one to three In-the-Field Days as follows: FRI 29 NOV, SAT 30 NOV, and SUN 1 DEC for only $300.00/day.

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.

Lunch is included.

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

18 comments to Making Soup from a Stone. Preening Bird Basics. How I Use my SONY 600mm f/4 GM. And the luxury of sharp 61-megapixel files …

  • avatar Brendan

    My second guess for favorite part (maybe my second favorite) is the crown of white fluff at the back of the head that provides a sharper contrast with the dark face and compliments the white of the body.

  • avatar Joel Eade

    With .tif files over 100mB have do you anticipate having to change the drives in your MacBook or invest in more (or larger) data storage devices?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Joel,

      No. My laptop (where I do most everything) has a 2TB SSD HD. In the office where everything winds up we have a huge DROBO system so no worries there.

      Plus, I am editing even more tightly than ever.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Maggie

    I love everything about this image, but my eyes are drawn to the feathers along the back of the neck.

  • Feathers in the bill are my favorite too

  • avatar Adam

    Hi Artie, there are a lot of elements in the image to like from the tonal range to the details in the feathers and skin, the background, and almost three dimensional appearance of the image. FWIW today, we saved a mynah whose foot was snared in a tree tendril. The poor thing was suffering and being attacked by crows. It was a sight to see the other mynahs rallying and trying to scare off the intruders. We managed to break off the branch and untangle the tendril. The happy mynah quickly flew away. There’s more to the story which makes a good bedtime tale for the grandkids.

  • avatar John Patton

    I was there that morning and am surprised at how smooth the background is considering how many other birds and people were in the water. Also the sharpness is almost unbelievable.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      You should have said hello :).

      As far as the people, isolate, isolate, isolate. The smooth background is the result of my getting a bit lower than standing so that the distance to the background is increased as compared to when I was standing at full height.

      The sharpness is the result of being on a tripod, stopping down from f/6.5 to f/7.1, my excellent sharpness techniques, and the amazing IQ of sharp 7r IV files.

      Consider hiring me for a morning over there with a southeast wind :). It is amazing how much you can learn, That was the point of the “For What It’s Worth” blog post here.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Brendan

    I love the parallel lines in this image – the way the curve of the left edge of the neck aligns with the line between the neck and the bill on the right and the line between the upper and lower parts of the bill. All gentle curves leading the eye to the action where the bill meets the feathers on the body. Beautiful.

  • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

    Thanks Ted and Warren but you both missed my favorite part 🙂

    with love,


  • avatar Ted Willcox

    I like the gentle curve of the image and the way the feathers on the neck are raised up and out!

  • avatar Warren Howe

    What is your favorite part of today’s featured image?

    Definitely the feathers showing in the bill. Shows action and tells a story. Like you say – Capture Behavior!

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