Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
August 6th, 2022

Sleep-deprived at Nickerson Beach for Good Reason

Trapped in Password Hell

I do not have access to my samandmayasgrandpa e-mail address. If you wish to join me at Nickerson Beach or at the East Pond at Jamaica Bay in the next few days, please text me at 863-221-2372. Have a good one. a

Your Call

This is a photo contest. Place today’s three featured images your order of your preference with the winning image first, the runner up photo second, and the loser, third 🙂 All are invited to play judge and let us know why they made their choices. I love all three of them.

What’s Not Up Early?

Many bird photographers including the majority of folks photographing the terns and skimmers at Nickerson this past week, arrive between seven and nine am. They may get to make some good images on a cloudy day. On sunny days, I am heading home just as they are arriving. I try to be on the beach 45 minutes before sunrise, and always want to be in position at least 15 minutes before the time of sunrise.

My Big Rant

I continue to be flabbergasted by the number of folks carrying $10-$20,000 worth of quality camera gear who have zero clue as to how to make good (let alone great) images: shooting well off light angle, facing into the wind, failing to see and find good situations, poor technique, and. incorrect gear choices. As I say often, I am simply baffled.

What’s Up?

Me, early, to take advantage of some wonderful sunrise colors. Friday morning had tons of that, and once the clouds took over, lots of good chances with Black Skimmer chicks. Today is Saturday 6 August 2022. The forecast for Lido Beach is identical to Friday’s forecast: partly to mostly cloudy with a SW breeze. I will be headed to the beach very early in hopes of some more spectacular sunrise light. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours to prepare (including the time spent on optimizing three new images) and makes one hundred thirty-five days in a row with a new one.

So far, seven folks have been in touch about joining me at either Nickerson or JBWR in the coming weeks. See the details below. Carlotta Grenier is returning next Monday for another In-the-Field session. The first window for doing shorebirds at the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Clockwise from the upper left corner back around to the center: Wilson’s Phalarope, JBWR; just fledged Common Tern, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, adult skimming, Nickerson; Black Skimmer killing tiny skimmer chick, Nickerson; American Oystercatcher foraging at sunrise, Nickerson; Common Tern chick swallowing baby bluefish, Nickerson; Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, double overhead wing stretch, JBWR; Black Skimmers, predawn flock blur, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, 10-day old chick, Nickerson.

Click on the card to view a larger version.

Nickerson Beach/East Pond JBWR composite

Nickerson Beach/East Pond at Jamaica Bay (JBWR) In-the Field Workshops

Both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at JBWR offer some of the best midsummer bird photography on the planet. Hundreds of pairs or Black Skimmers and Common Terns along with more than a dozen pairs of American Oystercatchers breed at Nickerson each season so there are lots of chicks of all sizes and handsome fledged young to photograph. Provided that the water levels are low, hundreds of young shorebirds in their handsome fresh juvenile plumages stop by the pond each August on their way south.

Nickerson often reveals nature at it rawest, most basic level. Most days we get to photograph all sorts of dramatic behaviors ranging from skimmers and terns fishing and feeding (and tending) their you. There are often chances to shoot a variety of predatory encounters — gulls eating large skimmer chicks, skimmers eating skimmer babies, and Peregrine Falcons hunting. And rarely, if we are lucky, Peregrine Falcons catching! Consider joining me to learn a ton both about bird photography and the birds.

I am taking the Auto Train north on 31 July and will happily spend all of August on Long Island. I head south on 31 August and should be back home on 1 September (barring anything unforeseen). I am offering In-the-Field sessions at both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or text me at 863-221-2372.

Whether you are a local or would like to fly in for several days of instruction — a sort of private, or small group. — at worst, IPT, LMK via e-mail so that we can work on a schedule that could possibly include both Nickerson and Jamaica Bay.

The First DeSoto IPT

If you are interested in the first DeSoto IPT, 3 1/2 Days, Tuesday 27 September through the morning session on Friday 30 September 2022, know that I just reserved a three-bedroom AirBnB in Gulfport. Share it for four nights with many multiple IPT veteran Monte Brown and me and save a ton on lodging: $83.69/night/person for a whole home. AirBnB photos available upon request. If interested, shoot me an e-mail.

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

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.

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.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists 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 a 1, 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.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

If You Enjoy the Blog …

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 (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — 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.



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 4 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, New York. I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 840mm) with The One, the Sony a1 Mirrorless Camera. Shutter Priority +1.3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/9 (wide open). AUTO ISO set ISO 800. Exposure determined via Zebras with Exposure Compensation on the Thumb Wheel. AWB at 6:01:54am on a sunny morning about seven minutes after the time of sunrise.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Eye/Face Detection enabled performed perfectly.

Image #1: Black Skimmer in quasi fire-in-the-mist conditions image

Quasi Fire-in-the-Mist Conditions

If you know where to be, these quasi fire-in-the-mist conditions exist every clear morning. You do, however, need to know exactly where to be. Most folks including other professional tour leaders, fail to take advantage of these spectacular conditions.

For many of the sessions I have been going light carrying just the 200-600 G lens. Note that for Image #1 I added the 1.4X TC and risked a rather low shutter speed: 1/250 sec. at 840mm handheld is pushing things.

This image was created on 5 August 2022. at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, New York. Seated on damp sand, I used the lowered, no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Panning Ground Pod-supported 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.. Shutter Priority +2.3 stops: 1/60 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open). AUTO ISO set ISO 1250. Exposure determined via Zebras with Exposure Compensation on the Thumb Wheel. AWB at 5:52:56am about 3 minutes before the time of sunrise on a partly cloudy morning.

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

Image #2: Black Skimmer in flight against the brightly colored pre-dawn sky

Partly Cloudy Often Equals Sunrise Color

I make sure to be in position at least 15 minutes before sunrise when the forecast is calling for partly cloudy. Why? Though there are no guarantees, light clouds on the eastern horizon often offer brilliant and vibrant sunrise colors. There was a fifteen minute clear window below the clouds on Friday morning and they created a varying array of colors as the day progressed.

Lesson: get your butt out of bed in the dark and arrive at coastal locations as early as possible.

This image was also created on 5 August 2022. at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, New York. Again, seated on damp sand, I used the flattened, no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Panning Ground Pod-supported 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.. Shutter Priority +2.3 stops: 1/250 sec. at f/5.6 (wide open). AUTO ISO set ISO 800. Exposure determined via Zebras with Exposure Compensation on the Thumb Wheel. AWB at 6:38:54am as the sunrise colors had begun to fade on a partly cloudy morning.

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

Image #3: Black Skimmers against pink sky

Why the Flattened Tripod?

I needed to get below the birds on the berm and then get as low as possible so that I could enjoy a background of fading pink sky color as the clouds begin to take over.

The lesson: Perspective is everything so choose yours carefully.

Unsolicited via e-mail from Pete Myers

I just spent 4 days in the field in a graduate course in bird photography taught by Artie Morris at Fort DeSoto. After almost 50 years of experience pointing cameras at birds from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego, New Zealand and beyond, I thought I was good enough. But what I learned from Artie in just four days has taken me to a whole new level. As he aptly puts it, “birds as art,” not simply bird photography. One of those 4 days was the most satisfying I’d ever experienced, anywhere. The IPT left me euphoric about what I’d learned, and frighteningly committed to recreating my portfolio with the techniques and insights he taught me.

Via e-mail from Jim Miller

I can’t stop thinking about how much fun the DeSoto Fall IPT was, and how much I learned. There were so many things that suddenly made perfect sense after I had been confused for so long. Thank you very much for the wonderful trip, and for being a great teacher. As I worked through the raw files last week, I realized what a fantastic lens the 600 GM is. Thanks for the rental! Maybe someday I will be able to afford one. Some images for critique are attached.

By the way, the plant we were looking at along the sidewalk in Gulfport is Blue Porterweed. It is worth a few minutes on the internet to read about it: native of Florida and the Caribbean, used for medicine in The Bahamas, etc. We have it in a large pot in the front yard and it takes a lot of water, but it blooms Spring through Fall. Thank you again, Artie. It was really wonderful to be with you and learn from you.

Via e-mail from Lee Sommie

I want to thank you for making the Fall 2017 Ft. DeSoto IPT such a fun and educational experience for me. I truly did not want the adventure to end. I now look through the viewfinder with an artist’s mindset. And the real bonus was making new friends with fellow students. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enthusiasm for wildlife photography. I had a great time with you and look forward to more adventures on future IPTs.

Followed by this one

BTW. I downloaded Photo Mechanic and started using it in my workflow. Since I like using Lightroom for my adjustments, I found a way to incorporate Photo Mechanic and Lightroom together. Lightroom was driving me crazy with how slow it is to import and preview photos. I was impressed with how fast you could preview photos and start editing your photos on the DeSoto Fall IPT. Life is too short to wait for applications to import and preview photos and Photo Mechanic solves that problem.

Via e-mail from Muhammad Arif

I had a great time at Fort DeSoto. Thank you for all the instruction, for your help and pointers; my photography has already improved tremendously, and I’ve never made such good bird photos before. I wish I could’ve joined you on Monday and Tuesday morning as well, but work got in the way. It was also nice meeting the folks on the IPT. Thanks again for everything and I hope to join you at a future IPT sometime again.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in fall is rife with tame birds. All the images on this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or very early October. I hope that you can join me there this fall. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Caspian Tern, Great Egret, Sandwich Tern with fish, Willet, Black-bellied Plover threat display, Snowy Egret, 2-year old Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron, juvenile Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron.

The Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tours

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #1

3 1/2 Days: Tuesday 27 September through the morning session on Friday 30 September 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers/Openings five.

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #2

3 1/2 Days: 7 October through the morning session on Monday 10 October 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers.

Fall 2022 Fort DeSoto Instructional Photo-Tour #3

3 1/2 Days: Monday 31 October through the morning session on Thursday 3 November 2022. $1899.00 includes three working lunches. Limit six photographers.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With any luck at all, we should get to photograph one of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher is pretty much guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, and White Ibis are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. And we will get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. In addition, Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed, Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork might well be expected. And we will be on the lookout for a migrant passerine fallout in the event of a thunderstorm or two.

On this IPT, all will learn the basics and fine points of digital exposure. Nikon and Canon folks will learn to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and SONY folks will learn to use Zebras so that they can be sure of making excellent exposures before pressing the shutter button. Everyone will learn how to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. Most importantly, you will surely learn to evaluate wind and sky conditions and understand how they affect bird photography. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you’re scared of it). The best news is that you will be able to take everything you learn home with you so that you will be a better photographer wherever and whenever you photograph.

There will be a Photoshop/image review session during or after lunch (included) each full day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

These IPTs will run with only a single registrant (though that is not unlikely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with Gulfport AirBnB information. If you register soon and would like to share an AirBnB with me, shoot me an e-mail. Other possibilities including taking a cab to and from the airport to our AirBnB and riding with me. This saves you both gas and the cost of a rental car.

A $600 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check two months before the trip. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with six folks, so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand, or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, clothing, and gear advice. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Clockwise from upper left to center: Long-billed Curlew, juvenile Tricolored Heron, Marbled Godwits, Great Blue Heron, juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Wood Stork, smiling Sea Scallop, Ruddy Turnstone scavenging needlefish, Great Blue Heron sunset silhouette at my secret spot, and southbound migrant tern flock blur.

Up Early, Stay Out Late!

Obviously, folks attending an IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of the sweetest light and sunrise and sunset colors (when possible). The good news is that the days are relatively short in early fall. I really love it when I am leaving the beach on a sunny morning after a great session just as a carful or two of well-rested photographers are arriving. The length of cloudy morning sessions will often be extended. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

Typos

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

August 5th, 2022

Understanding an Ideal Black Skimmer Flight Situation

Your Call

Thanks for all the recent comments. Which of today’s five featured Black Skimmer action images is the strongest? All are invited to leave a comment and let us know why they made their choice. I have a favorite image that I like much better than the other four.

What’s Up?

Thursday morning was challenging with clear skies and a strong breeze from the SW blowing right at the sun. Being on the beach mega-early in that situation is of paramount importance. I got one of my favorite skimmer images ever, a quasi fire-in-the-mist shot that it there most every clear morning when the wind is coming from the wrong direction. But only if you know what to look for. I will share this special image with you here soon. I made some nice pre-dawn blurs, some good stuff on shorebirds chowing down on sand carbs, and enjoyed lots of chances on Common Terns in flight (cooperatively flying the “wrong way” way) with baitfish for their young. Tip: Shorebirds are not affected much by the wind when they are foraging.

On Thursday afternoon, old friend Carlotta Grenier hired me for an In-the-Field session to set up her two Sony A1 bodies and teach her to use her 600mm f/4 GM lens on a tripod with teleconverters. We had a fantastic session. I loaded my settings on her a1-s, taught her the various buttons and dials, how to toggle between my two AF methods, and how to set the right exposure every time using Zebras. She was a quick study. Once we got to the colony, she began making excellent images right off the bat. Carlotta could not believe how the AF system tracked the eyes of both the adult and young skimmers even in low light and with relatively distant subjects.

Today is Friday 5 August. The forecast is for partly to mostly cloudy with another SW wind. That is a much better forecast than sunny with a SW wind. I am headed to the beach very early in hopes of a spectacular sunrise with skimmer blastoffs. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours (including the time spent on optimizing five new images and on creating the diagram) to prepare and makes one hundred thirty-four days in a row with a new one.

So far, six folks have been in touch about joining me at either Nickerson or JBWR in the coming weeks. See the details below. Carlotta is returning next Monday for another In-the-Field session. Note that the first window for doing shorebirds at the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge is fast approaching. I will publish the exact dates for those In-the-Field sessions tomorrow.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Clockwise from the upper left corner back around to the center: Wilson’s Phalarope, JBWR; just fledged Common Tern, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, adult skimming, Nickerson; Black Skimmer killing tiny skimmer chick, Nickerson; American Oystercatcher foraging at sunrise, Nickerson; Common Tern chick swallowing baby bluefish, Nickerson; Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, double overhead wing stretch, JBWR; Black Skimmers, predawn flock blur, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, 10-day old chick, Nickerson.

Click on the card to view a larger version.

Nickerson Beach/East Pond JBWR composite

Nickerson Beach/East Pond at Jamaica Bay (JBWR) In-the Field Workshops

Both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at JBWR offer some of the best midsummer bird photography on the planet. Hundreds of pairs or Black Skimmers and Common Terns along with more than a dozen pairs of American Oystercatchers breed at Nickerson each season so there are lots of chicks of all sizes and handsome fledged young to photograph. Provided that the water levels are low, hundreds of young shorebirds in their handsome fresh juvenile plumages stop by the pond each August on their way south.

Nickerson often reveals nature at it rawest, most basic level. Most days we get to photograph all sorts of dramatic behaviors ranging from skimmers and terns fishing and feeding (and tending) their you. There are often chances to shoot a variety of predatory encounters — gulls eating large skimmer chicks, skimmers eating skimmer babies, and Peregrine Falcons hunting. And rarely, if we are lucky, Peregrine Falcons catching! Consider joining me to learn a ton both about bird photography and the birds.

I am taking the Auto Train north on 31 July and will happily spend all of August on Long Island. I head south on 31 August and should be back home on 1 September (barring anything unforeseen). I am offering In-the-Field sessions at both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or text me at 863-221-2372.

Whether you are a local or would like to fly in for several days of instruction — a sort of private, or small group. — at worst, IPT, LMK via e-mail so that we can work on a schedule that could possibly include both Nickerson and Jamaica Bay.

The First DeSoto IPT

If you are interested in the first DeSoto IPT, 3 1/2 Days, Tuesday 27 September through the morning session on Friday 30 September 2022, know that I just reserved a three-bedroom AirBnB in Gulfport. Share it for four nights with many multiple IPT veteran Monte Brown and me and save a ton on lodging: $83.69/night/person for a whole home. AirBnB photos available upon request. If interested, shoot me an e-mail.

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

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.

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.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists 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 a 1, 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.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

If You Enjoy the Blog …

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 (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — 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.



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.

Diagram: Great Black Skimmer Situation

Understanding an Ideal Black Skimmer Flight Situation

I am standing at ME facing west. The sun is coming over my right shoulder and the wind is 60° from my right, east by northeast. A flock of about thirty skimmers had landed on the beach in front of me. Single birds are flying in from over the ocean to join the birds on the beach. Some skimmed for fish on the way in, others seemed to be taking a quick bath on the wing, splashing about in flight. As the birds came to sun angle, I fired away, trusting Tracking Zone. One or two or three birds as a time would walk out into the ocean, turn around and face into the wind, and begin bathing. There was a ton of action. When the skimmer action slowed for a minute or two, there were lots of Common Terns fishing in the shallow surf for sand crabs and a bit offshore for baitfish. The very best way to learn about the relationship of wind direction and sky conditions is to join an Instructional Photo-Tour.

This image was also created on 3 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Again, standing in the shallow surf, I used used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/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 1250. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 6:43:42am on clear sunny day

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

Image #1: Incoming Black Skimmer splashing

A Swing and a Miss

I saw this behavior many times. I still am not sure if the birds were fishing and missing, or bathing on the wing. They sure made some big splashes, and they never caught a single fish.

This image was created on 3 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Standing in the shallow surf, I used used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/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 1250. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/3200 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 6:43:44am on clear sunny day

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

Image #2: Incoming Black Skimmer in early morning light with Atlantic blue background

Hard to Believe

When I saw the timestamps on the first two images, I was stunned. They were created in a two-second window. That means that the bird in Image #1 is the same bird in Image #2. Is there any additional proof that the subject in each image is one and the same?

This image was also created on 3 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Again, standing in the shallow surf, I used used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/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 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/4000 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at7:20:16am on clear sunny day

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

Image #3: Black Skimmer bathing

Bird Behavior is Often Repetitive

Knowing that bird behavior is often repetitive can help you to become a better photographer. If you miss an action or behavioral shot, be prepared — the same thing might happen again right in front of you. Know also that bathing birds will return to the same small area for as long as the depth remains constant.

This image was also created on 3 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Again, standing in the shallow surf, I used used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/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 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/4000 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:13:27am on clear sunny day

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

Image #4: Black Skimmer flapping after bath

What’s to Like?

I like the wing position, the light, the sharpness, the footsie positions, and that the breaking wave frames the image nicely.

This image was also created on 3 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Again, standing in the shallow surf, I used used the no-longer available (except from BAA) Induro GIT 304L tripod/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 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/4000 second at f/5.6 (wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:22:11am on clear sunny day

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

Image #5: Black Skimmer flying back to the flock

Background and Background Clean-up

Dark wet sand is a killer background. The beach in this image was pretty clean as beaches go, but it was not pristine. I spent a good ten minutes with the Patch Tool and Content-Aware Fill making it pretty much immaculate. All as detailed in Digital Basics II.

Typos

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

August 4th, 2022

Junior Officer Friendly!

Your Call

Thanks for all the recent comments. Which of today’s three featured images of the silly-tame skimmer chick best tells the story? All are invited to leave a comment and let us know why they made their choice.

What’s Up?

Wednesday morning was spectacular. The forecast was for a north wind. Predawn, it was NW. Not great for bird photography, but not terrible either. Once the sun was up a bit, the wind miraculously switched to the northeast. I headed down and into the ocean to better get on sun angle for the terns fishing in the wash. Working with the tripod-mounted 600mm f/4 and the 1.4X TC, the small waves were slapping both the tripod and my calves. As the tide came in, I had to move farther up a bit; as the sun moved to the south, this put me further off sun angle as the morning progressed. I got lucky when a small flock of skimmers landed on the berm about 60 feet from me just to the right of sun angle. Other skimmers flew in one after another, sometimes skimming right at me and sometimes seemingly bathing on the wing. After landing, many walked out into the shallow surf to bathe. And then, to flap. The gorgeous light and the breaking waves made for some truly great action photography. I created 3348 raw files and kept 152 after the first edit. Images soon.

Wednesday afternoon was similar to Tuesday afternoon, but with the wind south by slightly east instead of south by slightly west as it have been on the previous day, I had a tough time. The twenty degree difference was huge as the birds were all flying and angling slightly away from us rather than slightly toward us. There were, however, a zillion skimmer fights. Shooting them at 840mm with the big lens on the tripod was very challenging. BTW, since I was standing in the exact same spot for considerable periods of time, the tripod was the clear choice over the monopod because somebody has to hold a monopod in place.

Today is Thursday 4 August 2022. The forecast for Lido Beach this morning is for clear and sunny with the breeze from the southwest. While that makes for a great beach day, it is the kiss-of-death forecast for bird photography as the sun rises north of east. The birds will be flying, landing, taking off, and facing into the southwest wind, directly away from the sun, My best chances will be for predawn silhouettes and blurs. Il will be handholding the 200-600 and headed back to the car very early. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope that you too have a great day. This blog post took about two hours to prepare and makes one hundred thirty-three days in a row with a new one.

So far, six folks have been in touch about joining me at either Nickerson or JBWR in the coming weeks. My first In-the-Field client will be joining me on Thursday afternoon. See the details below.

Please remember to use the B&H and Amazon links that are found on most blog pages and to use the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout when purchasing your new gear from Bedfords to get 3% back on your credit card and enjoy free second-day air FedEx. Please, also, consider joining a BAA IPT. You will be amazed at how much you will learn!

Clockwise from the upper left corner back around to the center: Wilson’s Phalarope, JBWR; just fledged Common Tern, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, adult skimming, Nickerson; Black Skimmer killing tiny skimmer chick, Nickerson; American Oystercatcher foraging at sunrise, Nickerson; Common Tern chick swallowing baby bluefish, Nickerson; Short-billed Dowitcher, juvenile, double overhead wing stretch, JBWR; Black Skimmers, predawn flock blur, Nickerson; Black Skimmer, 10-day old chick, Nickerson.

Click on the card to view a larger version.

Nickerson Beach/East Pond JBWR composite

Nickerson Beach/East Pond at Jamaica Bay (JBWR) In-the Field Workshops

Both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at JBWR offer some of the best midsummer bird photography on the planet. Hundreds of pairs or Black Skimmers and Common Terns along with more than a dozen pairs of American Oystercatchers breed at Nickerson each season so there are lots of chicks of all sizes and handsome fledged young to photograph. Provided that the water levels are low, hundreds of young shorebirds in their handsome fresh juvenile plumages stop by the pond each August on their way south.

Nickerson often reveals nature at it rawest, most basic level. Most days we get to photograph all sorts of dramatic behaviors ranging from skimmers and terns fishing and feeding (and tending) their you. There are often chances to shoot a variety of predatory encounters — gulls eating large skimmer chicks, skimmers eating skimmer babies, and Peregrine Falcons hunting. And rarely, if we are lucky, Peregrine Falcons catching! Consider joining me to learn a ton both about bird photography and the birds.

I took the Auto Train north on 31 July and will happily spend all of August on Long Island. I head south on 31 August and should be back home on 1 September (barring anything unforeseen). I am offering In-the-Field sessions at both Nickerson Beach and the East Pond at Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested, please get in touch via e-mail or text me at 863-221-2372.

Whether you are a local or would like to fly in for several days of instruction — a sort of private, or small group at worst, IPT, LMK via e-mail so that we can work on a schedule that could possibly include both Nickerson and Jamaica Bay.

The First DeSoto IPT

If you are interested in the first DeSoto IPT, 3 1/2 Days, Tuesday 27 September through the morning session on Friday 30 September 2022, know that I just reserved a three-bedroom AirBnB in Gulfport. Share it for four nights with many multiple IPT veteran Monte Brown and me and save a ton on lodging: $83.69/night/person for a whole home. AirBnB photos available upon request. If interested, shoot me an e-mail.

Instagram

Follow me on Instagram here. I am trying to feature both new and old images, especially images that have not appeared recently on the blog. Or search for birds_as_art.

BIRDS AS ART Image Optimization Service (BAA IOS)

Send a PayPal for $62.00 to birdsasart@verizon.net or call Jim at 863-692-0906 and put $62.00 on your credit card. Pick one of your best images and upload the raw file using a large file sending service like Hightail or DropBox and then send me the link via e-mail. I will download and save your raw file, evaluate the exposure and sharpness, and optimize the image as if it were my own after converting the raw file in Adobe Camera Raw. Best of all, I will make a screen recording of the entire process and send you a link to the video to download, save and study.

Induro GIT 304L Price Drop

Amazingly, we have two, brand-new-in-the-box Induro GIT 304L tripods in stock. They are $699.00 each (were $799.00) and the price now includes the insured ground shipping to the lower 48 states. Weekday phone orders only: 863-692-0906. Order yours here while they last.

Please Remember

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.

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.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would like to enjoy getting 3% back on your credit card along with free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex 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 check the box for Free Shipping. That will automatically upgrade to free 2nd Day Air Fed-Ex. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The waitlists 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 a 1, 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.

Important Note

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small percentage when you purchase from Amazon after using any of the Amazon links on the blog (including the logo-link on the right side of each blog post page). My affiliate link works fine with Amazon Prime and using it will not cost you a single cent. Huge thanks, BTW 🙂

If You Enjoy the Blog …

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 (still!) save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times — I lost about fifty thousand dollars in income due to COVID 19 — 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.



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 2 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ) The exposure was determined using Zebra technology with ISO on the the Thumb Dial. ISO 1250. 1/1600 sec. at f/6.3 (wide-open) in Manual Mode. AWB at 7:28:42 pm on a sunny afternoon. RawDigger showed the exposure to be perfect.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye Detection performed perfectly.

Image #1: Black Skimmer chick about six days old looking for its parents

Small Chick, Big World

As I shared yesterday:

Just before 7:30pm on Tuesday, I noted another photographer sitting well back from the colony ropes. It seemed as if she were pointing her lens at an empty sand beach. I instantly knew exactly what she was up to so I carefully made my way around her to get on sun angle without disturbing her subject and then sat down on the beach just off sun angle.

Image #1, made at 600mm was created to emphasize the chicks’ small size in comparison to the very large beach. Note the narrow zone of focus and the placement of the subject in the lower right corner of the frame. Is anyone familiar with the Rule of Fifteenths?

This image was also created on 2 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Again, I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ) The exposure was determined using Zebra technology with ISO on the the Thumb Dial. ISO 800. 1/1000 sec. at f/6.3 (wide-open) in Manual Mode. AWB at 7:30:08pm on a sunny afternoon. RawDigger showed the exposure to be perfect.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye Detection performed perfectly.

Image #2: Black Skimmer chick running towards photographers

Running at Us!

When some small skimmer chicks perceive the human form they run the other was as fast as they can. This little one actually ran right at us. The chick walked up to me, scooped out a scrape right next to my left sneaker, and rested for a bit. The other photographer and I sat smiling in amazement. Image #2 was my favorite of the large-in-the-frame images as it was close to being on sun angle, showed the chick kicking up the sand, and was razor sharp on the eye.

This image was also created on 2 August 2022 at Nickerson Beach Park, Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. Again, I used the handheld Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 600mm) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ) The exposure was determined using Zebra technology with ISO on the the Thumb Dial. ISO 2500. 1/500 sec. at f/6.3 (wide-open) in Manual Mode. AWB at 7:37:09pm in the shade on a sunny afternoon. RawDigger showed the exposure to be about 1/6 stop too dark. In other words, pretty darned good.

Tracking: Spot S/AF-C with Bird Face/Eye Detection performed perfectly.

Image #3: Black Skimmer chick running towards photographers

The Final Insanity

Above, the chick was looking for a warm, save place to get out of the wind and spend the night. We were both laughing aloud but the baby skimmer did not care. We rejoiced when the little bird made a u-turn and headed back to the colony ropes in search of mom and dad. And safety.

Officer Friendly?

Officer Friendly is a program to acquaint children and young adults with law enforcement officials as a part of a community relations campaign.

So, I came up with the clever (or not) tile, “Junior Officer Friendly,” because the baby skimmer was acquainting itself with humans 🙂

Typos

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