Road Trip News. And Flight Pose: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Road Trip News. And Flight Pose: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

What’s Up?

We spent our first day near Denver, CO photographing White Pelicans, Green-winged Teal, and Cackling Goose (a small race of Canada goose).

After careful consideration, Anita North and I have – for a variety of reasons — decided to forego the remainder of our planned road trip and head back to Florida soon — we will probably begin heading east this coming Saturday morning. Two of the main factors that influenced our decision were the re-closure of New Mexico (which again is requiring a 14-day quarantine) and the extremely poor photographic conditions at Bosque del Apache NWR. We had planned on a three-week stay in Socorro that would have been the centerpiece of our trip.

Topaz Still on Sale!

Right now Topaz is offering price reductions on the Utility Bundle and the Creator Bundle. The former normally sells for $359.96. It is on sale now for $249.95. Click here, scroll all the way down to the sale, and enter the ARTHUR15 code at checkout to save an additional 15%! The Creator Bundle usually sells for $279.97 and is now on sale for $149.99. Using the ARTHUR15 code at checkout brings the price down to $127.49!

Please Remember

With income from IPTs approaching zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

The BAA Used Gear Page

The Used Gear page continues to be red hot! It is BAA Used Gear Page is the place to sell your used photographic equipment. We will help you to get your gear sold quickly for 20 to 60% or more than what the big guys are offering … Doubt me? Check out the Recent Sales list for the past ten months at the bottom of the page.

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

Great Topaz News!

Folks who use the BAA Topaz link to purchase Sharpen AI, DeNoise AI, or the Utility Bundle (or any other Topaz plugins) will receive a 15% discount by entering the ARTHUR15 code at checkout. To get the discount you must use my link and you must enter the discount code. Be sure to start with this link.

Topaz Stuff

As I said just a while back and have said often many times before, I should have listened sooner. If you, like me, are new to the Topaz party, please use this link to purchase. Right now I can wholeheartedly recommend both Topaz Sharpen AI and Topaz DeNoise AI. Though I have not yet worked with JPEGtoRAW AI or Gigapixel AI, I have installed both of these plug-ins and look forward to trying them on some I-Phone 11 images fairly soon. If you are thinking like me, consider the Utility Bundle that includes all four plug-ins mentioned above at a money-saving price.

Again, those who purchase Sharpen AI or DeNoise AI using my link, can e-mail to request a short Getting Started with Topaz e-Guide. I had a bit of trouble getting the two plug-ins installed and having them appear in the Photoshop Filter Menu. In addition, I will explain how to best learn about the two plug-ins by applying them on a Layer (in Photoshop). I amazed myself yesterday by completing this guide in the car on the way to and from Sebastian. Huge thanks to Anita for doing the driving. Please include a copy of your Topaz order when requesting the guide.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

122 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free overnight shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time). Be sure to mention the 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 and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and 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.

Both images in this Photo Mechanic screen capture were created on 7 November 2020 at the fabulous morning raptor blind at the Laguna Seca Ranch in Hidalgo County, TX. The last image in this 3-frame sequence is today’s featured image (below). I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (all at 448mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2500. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:10am on a cloudy-bright morning.

Center Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed superbly.

Image #1: Crested Caracara landing sequence Screen Capture

The Situation

A mentioned here previously, our first four mornings in the raptor blind at Laguna Seca Ranch were clear and sunny with an unfortunate breeze from the west that had most of the birds landing away from us. The prevailing winds in early November are generally strong from the east. It was foggy and still early on the morning of the seventh. The fog cleared nicely leaving us with the cloudy-bright conditions that I love. But with little wind, most of the birds were coming in too low and were partially obscured by the perch. Many excellent flight images are created by picking out the one bird that does not follow the expected pattern. The bird featured in today’s post flew directly at us at a decent height above the perch. The a9 ii took care of the rest. All three images in the sequence were razor sharp on the bird’s eye.

This image was created on 7 November 2020 at the morning raptor blind at the fabulous Laguna Seca Ranch in Hidalgo County, TX. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 448mm) and the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2500. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:10am on a cloudy-bright morning.

Center Zone AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed superbly.

Image #2: Crested Caracara braking to land in full flare

Flight Pose: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

With landing birds flying right at you this, is the pose I try for with the wings fully flared as the bird is braking hard. In a perfect world, the bird would have been staring right down the lens barrel instead of slightly to my left. When you get the right pose it is a treat with the SONY a9 series bodies that you do not have to worry about whether the image is sharp …

Image Processing Questions

1- Would you have removed the caracara on the ground? Why or why not?

2- Would you attempt to fill in the sky background that merges with two of the primaries of the bird’s right wing (upper left in the frame as we view it)? Why or why not?

Image #2A: Topaz DeNoise on the Crested Caracara braking to land in full flare image at 125%

Topaz DeNoise on the Crested Caracara braking image

As part of my now-regular workflow, I ran Topaz DeNoise AI on Auto on the whole image. Be sure to click on the image to enlarge it and note the elimination of noise in the background and on the black feathers of the bird’s chest. Note also the increased sharpness and the complete lack of any sharpening halos.


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

12 comments to Road Trip News. And Flight Pose: Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

  • Artie:
    Just curious. Where near Denver did you photograph the birds?

  • Nice image! I’d remove the bg bird, it grabs my eye and I find it distracting. The sky upper left doesn’t bother me, though I would probably darken it slightly to keep the eye from going there

  • avatar Jeff Walters

    No and No. The art or Art was in the click of the shutter. Trivial changes to me and not needed. Sometimes I think we over think things. But, you are the master. Sorry to hear about your trip plans being all changed up. Maybe just head to San Diego or Bolsa Chica or 17 mile drive in Monteray Bay and Morro Rock. Stay Safe. Sometimes playing it by ear is the cat’s meow.

  • avatar David J Policansky

    Hi, Artie. Great shot. I wouldn’t have removed the bird on the ground or changed the sky. Those things just don’t bother me. The latest news from Bosque is that the tour loops are open but the visitor is not. I don’t know if the Ladd S Gordon area is open.

  • avatar John Johnson

    Artie, Everglades National Park is teeming with White Pelicans.

  • avatar James Saxon

    Yes, I would remove both items from the photo. The bright area in the upper left draws my eye and so does the Caracara that is in the background. I love the soft colors in the image background that makes the bird “pop”.

    FYI, if you come through Beaumont on your way back give me a call. Photographed Cinnamon Teal at Cattail Marsh this AM. We have a lot of ducks now. ANWR had a huge fire today. Not sure if it was a controlled burn. Safe travels.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    Such a shame that New Mexico didn’t work out!

  • avatar frank sheets

    I have not confirmed this, but I heard somewhere that New Mexico was back on a 72 hour test as compared to a two week quarantine. You might want to check it out. I talked with a volunteer at the refuge who said there are cranes roosting in the ponds on the south loop. Not as productive as the Crane ponds, but still some possibilities. And as I said, the Ladd S. Gordon area was pretty productive for roosting cranes last year. Just some thoughts, but more importantly, be safe.

    RE the questions: 1) yes, distracting, 2) yes, doesn’t add anything to the image, and can be distracting.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The 72-hour negative test was rescinded recently. If you go to Bosque this year, have a great time. I am betting that with the crane pool dry and little water on the refuge that it is going to be very poor for photography. Very.

      with love, a

  • avatar ilene Weinstein

    have a safe trip and stay safe keep in touch

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