Shockingly Amazing: JBWR East Pond and a1 AF. And a Bedford Canon RF Wide Angle Lens Screw-up … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Shockingly Amazing: JBWR East Pond and a1 AF. And a Bedford Canon RF Wide Angle Lens Screw-up ...

What’s Up?

As I had hoped, the East Pond was better than it had been in a decade. The water level is perfect with acres of exposed mud flats. There were dozens of Lesser Yellowlegs, two Wilson’s Phalaropes – a juvie and an adult molting to winter plumage, hundreds of juvenile Short-billed Dowitchers, good numbers of Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers (both ages), a few white-rumps, a single young Greater Yellowlegs, and several dozen adult and fresh juvenile Semipalmated Plovers. All of the bird’s were ridiculously tame. We even did some flight photography with the 600 f/4s. All in all, it was thrilling.

Today is Saturday 21 August 2021. I am meeting three private clients for an In-the-Field workshop at 5:45am. Sunday is looking like a total rainout. Monday is looking great. If you would like to join me on Monday (or possibly Tuesday) please scroll down. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day.

Please note that it is best to click on each blog image to view it larger. For unknown reasons, the images — even the verticals that are not rendered larger, look sharper once they’ve been clicked on.

Remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities!) on Amazon by clicking on the Stuff tab on the orange/yellow menu bar above. On a related note, it would be extremely helpful if blog-folks like me, who spend too much money on Amazon, would get in the habit of clicking on the Amazon logo link on the right side of each blog post when they shop online. As you might expect, doing so will not cost you a single penny, but would be appreciated tremendously by yours truly. And doing so works seamlessly with your Amazon Prime account.

This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 233 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, is also available in the BAA Online Store, it would be great, and greatly appreciated, if you would 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.

All from the East Pond at JBWR in August

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge/East Pond Shorebird In-the-Field Workshops

Monday 23 (and/or possibly Tuesday 24) August 2021.
Morning session: 6:00 until 9:00am (Limit: 6

For many decades, the East Pond at JBWR was the premier spot in North America to photograph southbound migrant shorebirds: small sandpipers (known affectionately as “peeps”), plovers, godwits, dowitchers, yellowlegs, and lots more. The pond, the spot were I would like my ashes to be scattered (in about two decades), has not been good for many years because of gate valve malfunction and mismanagement of the resource. Combined, these resulted in water levels that were too high; the mudflats that normally would provide roosting and feeding locations for large flocks of shorebirds were covered.

The refuge staff finally seems to have things under control this year. Water levels at the south end are reported as the best in a decade. The young birds usually arrive around 15 AUG. They are much, much tamer than the skittish adults that begin arriving around 1 July each year. The tides are perfect for 21-22 AUG. That weekend will potentially offer the best juvenile shorebird photography in many, many years. Weather and migratory patterns permitting. You will need to get your butt muddy as you cannot do the shorebirds while standing.

Consider joining me to learn the history of the pond, to learn to identify and age a variety of shorebird species, to learn how to approach the birds, and to improve your photography. I am expecting to have some very good chances for creating images of single birds in flight.

In-the-Field morning session alone: $350/session. With brunch and image review: $425/per session.

An option would be to stay over, grab a motel room, and do both morning sessions. In addition, you might want to add in a 6pm till sunset session at Nickerson Beach for only $250.00. To learn more or too register, please shoot me an e-mail.

My Bad! Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lenses in Stock at Bedford’s

The personable, helpful, and always eager-to-please Steve Elkins let me know yesterday that I screwed up. Due to my inability to read, I mistakenly advertised that Bedfords had a good stock of Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM lenses in stock. Bedfords has none of those. Steve, however, does have a good supply of the previously impossible-to-get Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM lenses. Grab yours here.

Remember that if you spend more than $7500.00 and use the BIRDS AS ART code at checkout, you earn a free copy of the R5/R6 Camera User’s Guide. Spend less and shoot me an e-mail to learn of your discount. The R5 and R6 are Canon’s best-ever bodies for flight photography and the RF 100-500 lens is a great all-around lens for bird photography. The 28-70mm f/2 is the landscape photographers dream lens.

By e-Mail From Hawaii’s Best Best Photographer

Aloha Artie,

It’s been a while. I always enjoy your blog; it’s the first thing I read each morning! Better than all of the sad Covid news that’s going around.

I sold almost all my EOS cameras and lenses (except for the 500mm f/4 that I bought from you years ago 🙂 and switched to the Canon R5. I bought it through Bedfords and used the BIRDSASART code to get a great discount. Steve Elkins was wonderful to work with. Many thanks for all of this. I’m ready to order the R5 Camera Users Guide from you. Somehow I didn’t know you were giving discounts on the Guide for purchases from Bedford’s. So, what do you need as proof of purchase? I spent $7577 for my new gear at Bedfords Order #45765.

Hope to see you out here one of the days.

All the best,

Jack Jeffrey
Pepeekeo, Hawaii

(Note: Jack received his R5 Guide for free.)

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now close to 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 20 August 2021 at the East Pond, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Queens, NY. While seated on wet mud, working off the a1’s tilted rear screen on the splayed Induro GIT 304L topped by a Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro– with the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2500. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/1000 sec. at f/4 (wide open) on a cloudy morning.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed beyond perfectly. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy the larger version.

Image #1: Lesser Yellowlegs, juvenile charging forward

This One Amazed Me

We had soft light and beautiful backgrounds. I was at the pretty-much minimum shutter speed for any type of action: 1/1000 sec. I raised the ISO to 2500 and say blinkies on the few light tones on the water. The AF system was tracking the yellowlegs when suddenly and for no reason, it charged straight toward us; I had switched from Tracking: Zone to Tracking: Spot S. As I was working off the rear screen with the tripod very low to the ground at a relatively slow shutter speed, I did not even check the images on the back of the camera. I was shocked and thrilled when I saw the series on my laptop.

Image 1A: The AF point for the Lesser Yellowlegs, juvenile charging forward image

Shockingly Amazing!

I could barely believe that the a1 AF system locked onto the right eye of the young yellowlegs and maintained focus as the bird charged towards me at full speed.

SONY a1 AF: Beyond Belief …

a1 Bird-Eye/Face Detection has gotten much better since the V1.10 firmware update that completely eliminated the EVF Blackout problems. It has become easier to trust the AF system whether working birds perched or on the ground, when doing flight photography, or when working off the tilted rear screen with the tripod almost at ground level. In short, thee a1 AF system is amazing.

SONY and artie

Switching to SONY, first with the a9 and the a9 II, and then to the remarkable a1, has enabled me (and others, like Mike De Rosa as seen a while ago in the blog post here), to create images of birds in flight and in action that I could not have even dreamed of when using Canon for 33 years and then Nikon for more than two. Most of the time I am using one of two AF methods that together, cover about 99% of the commonly-encountered bird photography situations. At present, I am experimenting beyond those … Learn more by joining the group!

From Long-ago IPT veteran Keith Kennedy via e-mail

Absolutely great information. I am calling Jim in a few minutes to order a couple of Delkin 128GB UHS-II cards. Your timely email has saved me a ton of money! Many thanks

In the same vein, via e-mail from John LeClair

Well, e-mail #21 alone was worth the price of admission!

From Pamela Viale, after receiving artie’s a1 settings along with detailed instructions on how to copy them to her SONY a1 via e-mail

This e-mail group has been an incredible boon to me! Thank you so much!

From Joe Barranco via e-Mail

Thanks for your great ideas on the A1 set up. I have been getting MANY more keepers doing things your way!

From Barbara White via e-Mail

Wow, I just gotta say – I learn so much from the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info group! My camera is on my desk, and I’m always picking it up and changing something that I’ve read about in the e-mails.

Thanks, Barbara

From Janet Horton via e-Mail

Hi Artie, Mystery solved. Yes, I was able to replicate what you did. I forgot that you have to set self-timer using the upper dial. I am used to that being a MENU selection.

Thanks much, Janet

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as more and more folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based answers. As the a1 is becoming more readily available, more and more folks are getting their hands on this amazing body. With two folks joining yesterday, we are now up to an astounding 77 lucky and blessed photographers! Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. (Note: it may take me several days to confirm B&H orders.) This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, folks can call Jim weekdays at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.


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

2 comments to Shockingly Amazing: JBWR East Pond and a1 AF. And a Bedford Canon RF Wide Angle Lens Screw-up …

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