Anita North Loves Her Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 II! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Anita North Loves Her Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 II!

What’s Up?

A fourth straight cloudy morning turned into another very long, very excellent morning photo session with the afternoon off. We started doing pleasing blurs of incoming Brandt’s Cormorants. The action was non-stop. With her skeet shooting experience, Carolyn Johnson was a natural. We worked in manual mode with shutter speeds in the 1/20 to 1/60 sec. range and set the ISO so that we were reading +1 2/3 stops off the green water. Easy peasy. When we downloaded at brunch, everyone’s biggest problem was that they were keeping too many pearling blurred images! Then we headed to the cliffs where dozens of breeding plumage adult Pacific-race Brown Pelicans showed up and posed. Cafe Vahik is great not only because they serve large portions of great-tasting, wholesome food, but they have electric outlets and do not mind us staying to work on images for as long as we want. Try the Del Norte Salad! Yikes, I almost forgot: fast, free WiFi!

Today is Thursday 20 January. The weather is calling for our first full day of sun. That translates to pelicans in the morning and ducks in the afternoon. Multiple IPT veteran and BAA-friend Bill Schneider will be joining us for two days of instruction and great photography. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about 90 minutes to prepare and makes 69 consecutive days with a new one.

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Sony Alpha 1 Bodies in Stock at Bedfords/free card offer!

Steve Elkins of Bedfords let me know recently that he had several Sony a1 bodies in stock. If one of them has your name on it, please click here and be sure to enter the BIRDSASART coupon code check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. Right now, in lieu of the 3% credit refunded to the card you used for your purchase, you will receive a Sony 160GB CFexpress Type A TOUGH Memory Card, a $399.99 value!

Brand New and As-Good-As-Ever Bedfords BAA Discount Policy

Folks who have fallen in love with Bedfords can now use the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout to enjoy a post-purchase, 3% off-statement credit (excluding taxes and shipping charges) on orders paid with a credit card. The 3% credit will be refunded to the card you used for your purchase. Be sure, also, to check the box for free shipping to enjoy free Second Day Air Fed-Ex. This offer does not apply to purchases of Classes, Gift Cards, or to any prior purchases.

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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. If you are desperate, you can try me on my cell at 863-221-2372. Please leave a message and shoot me a text if I do not pick up.

This image was created on 18 January 2022 at La Jolla, CA. I used the hand held Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens (at 70mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras with Exposure Compensation on the thumb dial. ISO 640: 1/1600 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 10:07:48am on a cloudy morning.

Tracking: Spot S AF/C with Human-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #1: Anita North and friends on cliff

Tame Pelicans and Anita’s New Best Friend

To make this image I removed the 1.4X TC from my 70-200 II to get my “wide angle” setting: 70mm. And I had to move back on the cliff a bit as well to get the framing that I wanted. The Sony 70-200mm II has proven to be incredibly versatile and as stated here before, the improved AF system is hard to believe. And that is true with either the 1.4X or the 2X TC.

In the photo above, Anita is hand holding the new lens with the 2X TC and a Sony Alpha 1. She finds that rig ideal for head-throw hunting! Note also how tame the birds are.

This image was created on 18 January 2022 at La Jolla, CA. Standing at full height, I used the no-longer-available Induro GIT 304L/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. ISO 1000. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/640 sec. at f/7.1 (stopped down 2/3 stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 10:28:18pm on a cloudy afternoon.

Tracking: Spot S AF-C with Bird-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy the high-res version.

Image #2: Brown Pelican Pacific-race 2-year old resting

The Fourth Pelican From Our Right to Our Left

In Image #1, take a look at the fourth young pelican from our right to our left. The bird is sitting on a very sweet pedestal rock, one of my favorite perches at the cliff. Well, anyhoo, that bird is the subject in Image #2 that was made at 840mm from just about the spot that I created the image of Anita and friends that opened this blog post.

Note that I placed the tripod so that I was perfectly parallel to the subject. Note that it was the distance from the subject to the background that yielded the super-smooth and pleasing background, not the aperture. The two things that I love most about Image #2 are the pink and blue about the face and the way that the blue picks up the color of the Pacific Ocean background. Oh, and I love the perch.

This image was created on 16 January 2022 at La Jolla, CA by my friend Anita North. She used the hand held Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS II lens with the Sony FE 2x Teleconverter (at 400mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera.. The exposure was determined via Zebras with Exposure Compensation on the thumb dial. ISO 640: 1/1600 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 10:07:48am on a cloudy morning.

Tracking: Spot S AF/C with Human-Eye/Face Detection performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a high-res version.

Image #3: Brown Pelican squabble-scape
Image courtesy of and copyright 2022: Anita G. North

An Aggressive Shooting Style Often Pays Off

Anita was tracking the bird on our left in the image as it flew in and kept firing as it landed. Anita shoots more aggressively than I do, often to her advantage. It is highly likely that I would not have made this image as I would have quit as the bird approached the cliff …

Anita was one of the lucky ones who got her Sony 70-200 II GM lens from Bedford’s first shipment. I told her from the get-go how much I loved mine. Today she said, That lens is my new best friend. I just love it!” She brings her 600 f/4 down onto the cliffs, places it carefully on the dirt along with her tripod, and clambers around on the cliff with the 70-200 II and both TCs.

San Diego offers a wealth of very attractive natural history subjects, including and especially the Pacific race of California Brown Pelican. With annual visits spanning more than four decades, I have lots of photographic experience there … Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The 2022 San Diego Brown Pelicans (and more!) Mini IPT. Monday 24 January thru the morning session on Wednesday 26 January 2022. Three mornings and two afternoons: $1649.00. Deposit: $499.00. Limit: 6 photographers

Join me in San Diego to photograph the spectacular breeding plumage Brown Pelicans with their fire-engine red and olive green bill pouches; Brandt’s (nesting with eggs and possibly chicks) and Double-crested Cormorants; breeding plumage Wood and Ring-necked Duck; other duck species possible including Lesser Scaup, Redhead, Northern Shoveler and Surf Scoter; a variety of gulls including Western, California, and the gorgeous Heermann’s, all in full breeding plumage; shorebirds including Marbled Godwit, Willet, Sanderling and Black-bellied Plover; many others are possible including Least, Western, and Spotted Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Black and Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Plover, and Surfbird; Harbor Seals (depending on the current regulations) and California Sea Lions. And as you can see by studying the IPT cards, there are some nice bird-scape and landscape opportunities as well. Not to mention a ton of excellent flight photography opportunities and instruction.

Please note: where permitted and on occasion, ducks and gulls may be attracted (or re-located) with offerings of grains or healthy bread.

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

Whether you like it or not, we will be beating the subject of exposure like a dead horse. In every new situation, you will hear my thoughts on the exposure situation along with my thoughts on both Nikon and Canon histograms and SONY Zebras. Whether you like it or not, you will learn to work in manual mode and to get the right exposure every time as long as a bird gives you ten seconds with the light constant. (Or two seconds with SONY zebras…) And you will learn what to do when the light is changing constantly. What you learn about exposure is one of the great takeaways on every IPT.

Though the pelicans will be the stars of the show on this IPT, there will be many other handsome and captivating subjects in wonderful settings. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

With gorgeous subjects just sitting there waiting to have their pictures taken, photographing the pelicans on the cliffs is about as easy as nature photography gets. With the winds from the east almost every morning there is usually some excellent flight photography as well, often with 70-200mm lenses! And the pelicans are almost always doing something interesting: preening, scratching, bill pouch cleaning, or squabbling. And then there are those crazy head throws that are thought to be a form of intra-flock communication. You will be guided as to how to make the best of all of those opportunities. And depending on the weather and local conditions and tides, there are a variety of other fabulous photo chances available in and around San Diego.


Did I mention that there are lots of great birds and natural history subjects in San Diego in winter? Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five three hour morning photo sessions, four one and one-half afternoon photo sessions, four working brunches that will include image review and Photoshop sessions. On rare cloudy day occasions, we may — at my discretion, stay out in the morning for a long session and skip that afternoon. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own as well. In the extremely unlikely event that Goldfish Point is closed due to local ordinance (or whimsy) — that has never happened in the past fifty years, I will of course do my very best to maximize our photographic opportunities.

A $499 deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. Best would be to call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due immediately.


Variety is surely the spice of life in San Diego. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

On all BIRDS AS ART IPTS including and especially the San Diego IPT, we get into the field early to take advantage of unique and often spectacular lighting conditions and we stay out late to maximize the chances of killer light and glorious sunset silhouette situations. We often arrive at the cliffs a full hour before anyone else shows up to check out the landscape and seascape opportunities.


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

3 comments to Anita North Loves Her Sony 70-200mm f/2.8 II!

  • avatar Steve

    I like image #2 but I REALLY want that bird farther to the right in the frame! Maybe with as much distance from the tail to the right edge of the frame as the neck has now to the left edge of the frame. And vice-versa: I want more space from the neck to the left edge as the tail currently has from the right! (I guess what I’m saying is that I would have framed it differently…)

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks, Steve, for leaving a comment. I disagree, but only 100%. I always want my sleeping birds looking toward the empty part of the frame, in this case, to our right.

      with love, artie

  • Artie
    I have to give todays image to Anita i love that action and great to see her shooting stile. the one on the right ads to the scene as he/she looks on Anita great job!
    I was one of the lucky to get my 70-200II from Bedford’s first shipment and one thing i love about it there’s a switch to focus manual DMF(direct manual focus) now if they would do that for the 200-600 i may consider an upgrade,
    Always with love b

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