When Something Unexpected Happens … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

When Something Unexpected Happens ...

What’s Up?

The sun finally came out on Thursday morning. Photography was spectacular. We had lots of pelicans including many gorgeous adults, along with lots of head throws. We enjoyed another fine working brunch at Cafe Vahik. We got to Santee Lakes early in the afternoon and photographed drake and hen Ring-necked Duck, Northern Shoveler, Gadwall, and Mallard along with Ruddy Duck and American Coot. We saw but did not photograph Wood Duck and Cinnamon Teal. I have 3409 images to go through from what was a very fine Thursday. Carolyn continues to do great with her new 200-600/a1 rig. She and daughter Marni will be heading home after brunch today. Bill Schneider will be with me all day.

Inexpensive shared lodging is available for the San Diego Mini IPT below. Please contact me via e-mail to inquire about the late-registration discount.

Today is Friday 21 January 2022. The forecast is for sunny all day. We are headed back to Santee Lakes very early in hopes of fire-in-the-mist conditions at sunrise followed by Wood Duck (and more) photography. 🙂 Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about an hour to prepare and makes 70 days in a row with a new one.

Please remember that you can find some great photo accessories (and necessities, like surf booties!) 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 who, like me, 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.

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 earn 3% cash back at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout for your major gear purchases. Doing either often earns you free guides and/or discounts. And always earns my great appreciation.

Sony a7R IV

BAA Record-low Price

BAA-friend Peter Noyes is offering a Sony A7R IV camera in near-mint condition for a BAA record-low $1898.00. The sale includes the camera body, the camera strap, the original Sony NP FZ100 Lithium-Ion Battery, the Sony BC-QZ1 Battery Charger, the camera manual, a SonyALC-B1 EN Body Cap for E-Mount cameras, the Cable Protector, the USB type C cable, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Peter via e-mail or by phone at (567) 356-0878 (EST).

For the past several years you have seen the incredible detail in my a7r IV images made with a variety of SONY lenses and both teleconverters. Before the a1, I typically used my 7r IV for about 50% of my bird photography and my a9 II in pure flight situations. As the 7r IVA sells new right now for $3498.00 (and the only “improvement”, over the original a7R IV is more resolution in the rear monitor, you can save a cool $1600.00 by grabbing Peter’s a7r IV. Though this 61-MP body is especially attractive to landscape and macro photographers, it is great for birds as well; you can pretty much crop to your heart’s content. For photographing birds in flight, I do not recommend its use with the 200-600 G lens. artie

This image was created on 19 January 2022. 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 and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless Digital Camera). IS 400. The exposure was determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/2500 sec. at f/4 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 8:52:04am on a mostly sunny morning.

Tracking: upper center Zone AF-C performed very well. Be sure to click on the image to enjoy a higher-res version.

Image #1: Brown Pelican vertical front-end flight take-off

When Something Unexpected Happens …

I’ve said it here dozens of times, “When something unexpected happens, push the shutter button.”

I was working a pelican on my favorite pedestal rock perch in vertical format with Tracking: upper center Zone AF-C. When the bird leaned forward and took off to the north, I followed my own advice by pressing the shutter button; I created seven images. All were sharp on the bird’s eye, and amazingly, three of them were nicely composed. Whoever head of a vertical front-end flight take-off image? As I had taken a moment to center the bubble on the silver ball of the Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro, all of the images in the series remained square to the world as I panned right. When it comes to bird photography with the Sony Alpha 1, life is like a box of chocolates …

One Tiny Thing …

Only one tiny thing bugs me about this image and keeps it from being perfect. If you think that you know what it is, please leave a comment. I clipped the tip of the fourth primary feather in this frame, added canvas, and repaired the missing wingtip. Nothing there bugs me. It is something else.

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. Last week, two folks in the group ordered a third a1! I am envious. The group is now up to an astounding 104 lucky and blessed folks. Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. The best news is that all who wish, can request an e-mail that includes a .DAT file with my a1 settings on it, and explicit directions on how to load my settings onto your a1; talk about convenience! I am now offering a .DAT file compatible with firmware update 1.20. I finally finished the consolidated Sony a1 CAMSETA2 INFO & GUIDE and distributed it yesterday. New a1 folks will now receive three e-mails instead of the previous 28! It is a lot easier on me and is an incredible resource for folks new to the a1.

Long-time group member Craig Elson has helped me often and immensely by answering some tough a1 questions, He sent this via e-mail yesterday:


Thanks so much for organizing all of these threads together. I can only imagine how helpful this is to someone opening the box on their new a1, much less combined with your CAMSETA2.DAT file. And I think that was the first, and likely the last, time, that I will be referred to as “the estimable!”🙏

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 group 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 birdsasart@verizon.net 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.

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.

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