COVID-19 Comments. Not Flying With Both Feet Off the Ground! SONY a7r iv Tracking Flexible Spot Amazes at 1200mm. More on Zebras for Difficult Exposures … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

COVID-19 Comments. Not Flying With Both Feet Off the Ground! SONY a7r iv Tracking Flexible Spot Amazes at 1200mm. More on Zebras for Difficult Exposures ...

What’s Up?

Thursday morning did turn out to be cloudy-dark. I created lots of perched vulture images along with some Old Gnarly family images, all at high ISO, to send to Arash Hazeghi for the new SONY Capture One e-Guide he is working on. He can use even lousy images to create various best conversion values especially with regards to the noise reduction settings.

I swam my usual 50 lengths on a cold — 59-degree afternoon — it had been ninety the previous day, with a cold rain pelting my back for the last forty.

The forecast for today — Friday 17 APR 2020 is much the same as yesterday’s — cloudy in the am, rain in the pm — except that the winds will be more from the east and less from the north. I will be headed down to the lake at about 7:15am.

Have a great day and be safe.

Some COVID-19 Political Comments …

I do not quite understand why most beaches and natural areas are closed to folks who would like to walk, exercise, and yes photograph, while practicing social distancing while everyone is free to go shopping at Walmarts or huge supermarkets. I do not understand why folks can purchase food but are prevented from buying garden supplies while its business-as-usual at liquor stores and lottery outlets. I do not understand why folks in some states are prevented from attending outdoor religious services while remaining in their vehicles. And I do not understand why folks surfing in California are hassled or even arrested.

Do you?

I will probably get into big trouble with some by suggesting that folks check out the situation in Sweden — where there are no lockdowns and the economy is doing just fine — in the YouTube video here. Comments are welcome on the message but not the messenger.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera Videos and Pre-publication e-Guide Costs and Discount Info

The cost of the SONY e-Guide is $100.00 US and will include one of the four camera set-up videos — we offer one video each for the a7r iii, the a7r iv, the a9, and the a9 ii — and the written guide with the galleries. The guide is now 98% done and you will — of course, receive the final version when it is completed. I sent out the third draft today to those who have purchased the Guide with or without the discount.

Folks who have used my B&H links or purchased their SONY gear from Bedfords will receive said discount based exactly on how much they spent. If you spent more than $10,000 you will receive one free video and the e-Guide. Additional camera videos are $25.00 each. If you spent $2400, you will receive a 24% discount, and so on and so forth. And again, additional camera videos will be $25.00 each.

I will need time to verify your B&H purchases so folks will need to send their receipts and then be a bit patient. It is much easier to verify Bedfords’ purchases but I need those receipts as well.

If you have not used BAA links, please do so in the future. If that is the case and you would like the e-Guide now, please send a Paypal for $100 US to and be sure to include the words “SONY Pre-publication Guide” in the Paypal e-mail along with the name of your camera or cameras so that you can receive the correct video or videos. Please add $25 for each additional camera video. Be sure to send a copy of the Paypal transaction to me via e-mail.

Folks who have used BAA links to purchase their SONY gear should send their receipts to me via e-mail asap and let me know which camera videos they need. I will verify their purchases as quickly as possible and send a quote to be paid via Paypal as above.

Thanks to all who have properly used my B&H links or gone through the fabulous Steve Elkins at Bedfords, and thanks to everyone for having faith in the information that I provide, knowing that it will be the best available anywhere.


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 15 APR at Indian Lake Estates. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 204/FlexShooter Mini-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO: 800. Exposure determined by Zebras with exposure compensation on the rear wheel: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. In bright sun, the trick with Black Vultures is to some Zebras on the legs. AWB at 8:45am on a clear sunny morning.

Tracking Flexible Spot (M) AF-C. Click on the image to see a larger, sharper version.

Black Vulture charging

Smoked Salmon Skin Feeder

Junior’s Fish Market in Lake Wales makes some of the world’s-best smoked salmon right there in his shop on SR 60. I usually buy as much as he has. (His hours right now are quite limited.) I save the fatty skins and keep them in the fridge along with left-over steak and pork chop bones. And I always have my eyes out for road-killed possums or raccoons. On mornings where the wind and sky conditions look decent for flight photography, I will put out the bait in one of two locations that offer decent (read distant) morning backgrounds.

Some days are diamonds, some days are stone. When the birds first arrive there can be lots of good flight photography. But most days I do not have the patience, so I drive around the lakefront in search of subjects and returned to find a pile of vultures already on the bait. That is what happened on Wednesday past. I always find it interesting to watch the interplay between the Black Vultures (BVs) and the larger Turkey Vultures (TVs). In general, the TVs are dominated by the smaller BVs. But at times, if more than a few TVs arrive early, they hold their own. The BVs do their share of squabbling. The bird in today’s featured image was charging a small group that was dining on a still-juicy bit of skin.

That the image is razor-sharp on the eye astounded me; I would not have expected Tracking Flexible Spot to keep up with a bird charging aggressively over the hill at 1200mm.

Click on the image to be able to read the fine print.

Capture One Screen Capture for Black Vulture charging

Capture One Screen Capture

First, note that I added 1/3 stop of light to the exposure (+0.32). And then see the next item.

Note the nasty dust spot to the right of the subject and the extra, o-o-f vulture in the lower- portion of the frame. As always, I used the Spot Healing Brush to eliminate dust spots while working at 100% and scrolling side to side and then up and down. I did a bit of grass clean-up using Content-Aware Fill. I used a large, rotated, warped, horizontally-flipped Quick Mask to cover the extra bird and then refined that with a Regular Layer Mask.

All the techniques mentioned above and tons more (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Scroll down for details on this great guide.

RawDigger Screen Capture for Black Vulture charging

RawDigger Screen Capture

Again, note that I increased the exposure by 1/3 stop. Then consider that the RawDigger data shows a 99.8% perfect exposure with 30,000 underexposed RED pixels and 1,000 underexposed BLUE pixels out of 61,000,000 pixels. Pretty darned close to perfect. I have been including the RawDigger over/under EXP data to show how amazingly accurate Patrick’s Sparkman’s system — Exposure determined by Zebras with exposure compensation on the rear wheel — combined with his brilliant Zebra’s setting, can be with just a bit of practice. This system is covered in detail in the almost-finished SONY e-Guide and the Camera Useer’s videos.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

All the Photoshop techniques mentioned above and tons more (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographers’ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and edited by yours truly. Please use this link to purchase NeatImage.

To introduce folks to our MP.4 videos and the basics involved in applying more NeatImage noise reduction to the background and less on the subject, I’d be glad to send you a free copy of the Free Noise Reduction Basics MP.4 Video. Simply click to shoot me an e-mail to get your free copy.

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 regularly visit 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 :).

14 comments to COVID-19 Comments. Not Flying With Both Feet Off the Ground! SONY a7r iv Tracking Flexible Spot Amazes at 1200mm. More on Zebras for Difficult Exposures …

  • avatar David Policansky

    Artie:. The real problem is that the rate of testing in this country has been abysmally low. As a result, nobody understands what’s going on and nobody really knows the best way to handle things. One thing is certain, and that is this virus is very dangerous for geezers like you and me. So be careful, stay safe.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Agree. And the worse news — according to Dr. Oliver, whom I would trust with my life — that they are not sharing, is that the tests are woefully inaccurate with relevant percentages of both false positives and false negatives.

      with love, a

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    They are now saying sunlight kills the virus very quick like. So maybe they should rethink the beaches and parks restrictions. Though social distancing still seems prudent. Never seen these Black Vultures until your blog, seen plenty of Turkey Vultures. I’m not a big fan of Turkey Vultures but I am kind of enjoying the Black Vultures. Envious of 10 minutes drive to your lake and dock, etc. for birds of all kinds. Stay safe.

  • avatar Stanley L Sizeler

    California has limited surfing because if surfers are allowed, the beach is technically “open” and the park rangers cannot control the mobs that show up to party, bonfire, etc. If the beach and parking is closed to all it is easier to operate the system. Stores ( Walmart, Sams. Costco, Safeway) near me are 1) controlling the number of people permitted to be inside at any time2) enforcing social distancing 2) requiring workers to wear masks 3) not requiring mask use by shoppers, but most do.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      From where I sit it seems much more about folks in control being absurdly out of control … We will see what happens now that Jacksonville, FL has opened the beaches …

      with love, artie

  • avatar Bill Atwood

    Completely agree Artie. I suppose I can see it in cities where parks/beaches get crowded, ironically those people would get more benefit from park access. All the State of Illinois parks and wildlife areas are closed and it really doesn’t make much sense.

  • avatar Dietmar Haenchen

    Hi Artie,

    you brought up some good comments on the Covid-19 issues. I do believe that social distancing is still necessary at this time. However, some parts of the initial requirements need to be refined in order to not have unnecessary restrictions. I am optimistic that such refinements will occur as we learn more about areas where current rules are too restrictive and other areas where an even more careful approach seems prudent. I see some of this starting to happen at the state level.
    It would be good if we could have a coordinated approach that is data and fact driven on the national level. I think that the German chancellor has done a good job in explaining the need for social measures and the consequences of not having them. The German experts came up with recommendations that can be followed and are quite well accepted by most people.
    As far as the video about Skandinavia is concerned, I was missing some key information to have a better understanding of the data. Bob clarified some of this in his comments.

  • avatar Kathy Kunce

    No one is truly in charge. There are no standards, no guidelines. Everyone is making it up as they go along. I’m political – I blame Trump.

  • avatar Bob

    Hi Artie,

    As of Wednesday, Sweden had 1,203 deaths due to coronavirus, against 143 for Norway, 309 for Denmark and 72 for Finland.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Bob. My understanding is that Norway has more folks infected … That creates something of a mystery. In addition, 4.6 million fewer people live in Norway …

      with love, artie

      • avatar David Policansky

        Sweden’s response is evolving. They didn’t leave the economy fully open. It’s complicated.

      • avatar Geoff

        # of cases is pretty much a useless statistic to be monitoring between countries or even regions/states/provinces as it all depends on how much testing is going on and what groups of people the testing is aimed at. Until widespread serological testing can survey the population for a more accurate number of people that have had the infection, the case # statistic really doesn’t tell us too much.

        Deaths and hospitalizations are more useful to monitor as for the most part give a better representation of how serious the virus is in a given country/state/province etc. There are of course still some issues with how countries are reporting those numbers…just look at how China added a bulk 50% to their death total a couple days ago claiming “a mistake in reporting”…LOL

        I think it is becoming clear that countries that went easy on guidelines like Sweden and UK are now feeling the full brunt of their delay. Even Singapore is now being hit hard again despite their early success with less draconian restrictions.

  • Hi Artie, I’ve been asking myself the same questions. Our vast parks with more than plenty of room for everyone are off limits. Heck, here in Ottawa a father kicking around a ball with his 4 year old son in an empty soccer field was fined $880.00 for doing so. In the meantime, pot shops and liquor stores have people lining up for an hour for their “fix”. It’s all surreal. I’m not questioning the magnitude and impact of this virus, I’m not pretending it’s not a dangerous one, but some of these measures….

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