An Afternoon at the Beach … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

An Afternoon at the Beach ...

What’s Up?

On Thursday morning, Clemens Van der Werf and I enjoyed a spectacular wading bird feeding spree at Fort DeSoto. The highlights for me were several one year old Tricolored Herons fishing up a storm. Then we spent two hours sitting in four inches of warm saltwater photographing Marbled Godwits, Short-billed Dowitchers, Sempipalmated Sandpipers, and a few Red Knots. We saw lot of knots, but none were in breeding plumage.

I used the Sony VG-C4EM Vertical Grip for the first time. I will do a full review here soon. In short, it ain’t perfect.

On Thursday afternoon, we headed back to do the Least Terns with lighter gear — see below for details on that. We both think that we did much better with the lighter, slower lenses, but we have not seen the images yet. Sunset was a bust with no diving pelicans and no large terns diving.

Today is Friday 28 May 2021. The forecast for St. Pete is for clear skies with a gentle northwest wind. We shall see what we shall see. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare, and makes 153 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember that if an item — a Delkin flash card, or a tripod head — for example, that is available from B&H and/or Bedfords and is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great if you opt to purchase from us. We will match any price. Please remember also to use my B&H affiliate links or to save 3% at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Wanted to Buy

I have a buyer for a Canon 600mm f/4L IS III telephoto lens. If you have one sitting on a shelf, unloved and unused, and would like to find a new home for it, please get in touch via e-mail.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at 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, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

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.

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 second-day air 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 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. 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 (remember those?) 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.

This image was created on 26 May 2021 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the Induro GIT 304L/
Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 800. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/3200 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:41pm on a mostly clear late afternoon.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Least Tern landing at colony

A Tough Task

Photographing Least Terns in flight is a tough task either with a tripod-mounted 600 f/4 (me) or a hand held 600 f/4 (Clemens). They are fast flyers, they dart and turn, and when they land, it is as if they have been shot out of the sky. None-the-less, we each managed a few good ones. Clemens was using his new R5 while his vaunted 1DX III was back at the AirBnB. On Tuesday evening, we headed back for more. Me with the much lighter 200-600, and Clemens with the lighter Canon 200-400 w/internal 1.4X TC (in place most of the time).

This image was created on 26 May 2021 at Fort DeSoto Park. I used the Induro GIT 304L/
Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted-Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera (Body Only). AUTO ISO 2000. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel. Multi metering +2 1/3 stops: 1/2000 sec. at f/8 (wide open) in Shutter Priority mode. AWB at 8:08pm on a sunny afternoon with a bit of haze to the west.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Tern diving at sunset

What to Try With a Bad Wind at Sunset …

With the sun setting in the west and a stiff wind from the west/northeast, silhouetted birds are facing away from you. We tried for either the diving terns or for diving pelicans. The latter turn away from the wind and give you at least half a chance as they dive.

Shutter Priority Mode with Auto ISO for Sunset Silhouettes

As regular readers know, I often go to Shutter Priority Mode with Auto ISO for sunset silhouette flight photography. This approach works greatly against a light-toned sky well away from the sun and the richly colored sky close to the sun. If the sun winds ups in the frame, you are gonna toast the sun no matter what mode you are in. As noted in the RawDigger guide, without the sun in the frame, everyone under-exposes silhouettes. Even though I was at +2 1/3 stops, this one was almost a stop too dark. Live and keep learning.

Clemens Van der Werf created this image on 26 May 2021. He used the tripod/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, the Canon Control Ring Mount Adapter EF-EOS R, and the highly-touted Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera body. ISO 250o. Exposure determined by test exposure & histogram and blinkies evaluation: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6. AWB at 8:23pm on a relatively

Face Detection plus Tracking AF performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #3: Brown Pelican turning to dive at sunset. Image courtesy of and copyright 2021 Clemens Van der Werf

Going Wider was a Good Plan

While I stayed with the 2X TC to try for the larger terns, Clemens swapped his 2X for the 1.4X and did much better with the pelicans. That move paid off nicely. At 1200mm, the pelicans were too large in the frame for me. Clemens has now done three sessions with his new R5 and is getting used to it very quickly. He set his new camera up exactly as detailed in the BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide.

Cover Image courtesy of and Copyright 2021 Brian Sump (Sump scores!)

The BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide

The BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide: $75.00

The guide is 82 pages long: 21,458 words. More than 50 DPP 4 Autofocus-depicting screen captures. And a 31 minute 44 second educational video. This guide took three and a half months of hard work and a ton of help from at least seventeen very helpful and generous folks.

The guide covers — in great detail — all Menu Items that are relevant to bird, nature, and wildlife photography. It does not cover video. The section on AF methods and the AF Gallery has been expanded from the R5/R6 AF e-guide. It remains the one of the great strengths of this guide. I share my thoughts on what I am sure is the single best AF Method for photographing birds in flight. As most of you know, the guide includes a simple and easy way to change AF Methods that was introduced to me by Geoff Newhouse. In the AF Gallery you will see exactly how Face Detection plus Tracking AF works. In the Educational R5 Gallery video, I share my favorite R5 images along with dozens of bird photography tips and techniques.

In addition, I teach you how to get the best exposures with your R5. Detailed instructions on using the great In-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features will be appreciated by creative folks who like to have fun. The three shutter modes are explained in detail as well. Bruce Dudek solved the can’t-get-to-Auto ISO problem that had stumped everyone at Canon. This information is of course shared in the guide. You will learn how to set up your EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) and Screen toggle options. Not to mention that the mysterious performance of the Q Button is revealed and simplified. Brian Sump’s images reveal how well you can do when using the R5 with EF lenses using one of the three Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapters (as Donna did with Image #1 below). You will learn how I use Customize Dials to put either ISO or EC on the Thumb Dial and how to set up and save Custom Shooting Modes (C1-C3) that can remember both your Customize Dial and Customize Button settings! That is something that none of the SONY bodies do. 🙁 Near the end of the guide I share my all-important MY MENU items with you.

Like all BAA educational materials, the R5 guide is written in my informal, easy-to-follow style. I am quite proud of this guide and look forward to hearing your thoughts on our hard work.

You can purchase your copy of the BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide for $75.00 here in the BAA Online Store or by calling Jim in the office weekday afternoons at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

From the late Luis Grunauer via e-mail

I’ve watched the R5 gallery video. I LOVE THE PHOTOS and the stories behind them, not to mention that the EXIF data is displayed in Photo Mechanic. Your explanations of the settings and the processes are very helpful. Your comments on framing and composition (both the great ones and the ones you refer to as “created by operator error”) were enlightening. It gives folks a chance to learn from someone with lots of in-the-field hands on experience with the R5! Well done and thanks so much for sharing it with me. There is some awesome teaching in the video to say the least!

From Ron Santini via e-mail

I have an R5 and purchased your “The BAA R5/R6 AF Guide” about a month ago. It has been a game-changer for me. I previously used back button focus (BBF), but after following your guide, that is a thing of the past. You truly simplified the process and I just want to thank you.


With all blog posts, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors.

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