Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
November 11th, 2018

The Edge of Innovation Podcast-- Part II: Living the Dream as a Bird Photographer. A Barely Used Canon 500 II. And BPN Is Rocking!

BAA Online Store

The BAA Online Store was down for most of Sunday. By Sunday evening, it was back up.

Stuff

I had 34 species on my walk on Sunday morning. I saw a bird jumping around at the base of some reeds so I got out of the car, raised my bins, and was amazed to see a stunning pair of Purple Gallinules, the first I have ever seen at Indian Lake Estates. Then something else caught my eye, a fly-by Least Bittern, a species that I had seen just once before. I have not said this in several decades but I am actually enjoying birding (aka bird watching) on my morning walk/drive arounds.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM Lens

Brian Anderson is offering a Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens in like-new condition for only $7,699.00. There is not a single mark on the lens, the glass, or the paint. The sale includes the accessories that came with the lens: the lens trunk with keys, the hood, both feet, the front lens cover, the rear lens cap, the lens strap, the product box, an Aquatech silicone front lens cover, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Brian via e-mail or by phone at 1-715-278-3223 (Central time zone).

The 500 f/4 super telephoto lenses have long been the world’s most popular for birds,nature, wildlife, and sports for many decades. Canon’s
Series II version is light, fast, super-sharp, and produces amazing images with both the 1.4X and 2X III TCs. The 500 II is relatively small, easily hand holdable for some folks, and is much easier travel with, focuses closer than, and costs a lot less than the 600 II. Lastly, and you might find this amazing, the magnification for the 500 II is the same as it is for the 600 II: .15X. How is that possible? Magnification is calculated at the minimum focusing distance of the lens — 12.14 feet (3.7 meters) for the 500 II and 14.77 feet (4.5 meters) for the 600 II. Simply put, the 500 II focuses more than two feet closer than the 600 II. The seller for the last one that sold here had five calls the first day; the first four folks quibbled on price. The fifth one jumped right on it … Please do not tarry if you are seriously interested in Brian’s lens as it too should sell almost instantly. Or not 🙂 As the 500 II goes for $8999 new you will be getting a pretty much new lens while saving $1300.00. I loved my 500 II 🙂
artie

The Edge of Innovation Podcast

Episode 75 — Living the Dream as a Bird Photographer (with Arthur Morris)

Apologies (again) for being a bit late in publicizing Part II. I enjoyed listening to this one as much as I enjoyed the first one. You can learn how I got started in the business of nature photography, how BIRDS AS ART was named, and how I have managed to avoid becoming a greeter at WalMart … And lots more.

Thanks again to IPT veteran Paul Parisi of Savior Labs who skillfully conducted the podcast interview; he is blessed with a great voice. The whole thing is only 22 minutes; many of you might enjoy it. Info on the last episode will follow. Your questions or comments are of course welcome.

BPN Is Rocking!

I have commented on almost every image posted in the Avian Forum at Bird Photographers.Net since August 8, 2018. I should be all caught up by tonight. I do not know of a better way to improve your nature photography than to participate regularly at BPN. Honest critiques done gently, and, it ain’t just birds! Below are some links to recent thought-provoking and educational posts.

Dorian Anderson’s Young Black Skimmer bank shot post here inspired a (mostly civil) 32-comment thread with lots of disagreements among the moderators. If you want to learn about Canon vs. Nikon AF from some of the world’s best flight photographers (don’t look at me!) do give this post a thorough read.

Check out Alex Becker’s beyond superb Chickadee image here. It shows that simple, small-in-the-frame images of a common species can win the day.

Avian Forum super-Moderator Daniel Cadieux has been killing for years, first with the 7D and more recently with the 7D II. His killer Lapland Longspur image here shows just what the 7D II can do in the right hands.

One of the beautiful things about BPN is that you get to see quality images of birds from around the world, especially from India and Australia. Check out Debapratim Saha’s spectacular Great Indian Hornbill image here to see how even excellent posted images can be improved.

I often re-hash lessons from the blog as I did with Ann Pacheco’s Spooked Northern Cardinal image here. If you struggle dealing with too-hot red birds, you will surely want to visit.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.





Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

November 10th, 2018

Parking Lots Can Be Great for Bird Photography ... More on fine-tuning your BLUEs. And Insane Low Prices on Nikon Big Glass.

Stuff

I was glad to learn that multiple IPT veteran Mike Gotthelf sold his Canon EOS 1DX in near-mint condition for $2299.00 this week just days are selling his Canon EOS 7D Mark II in near-mint condition for $799.00.

There are now five folks signed up for San Diego. The limit is eight. Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; there is cheap shared Airbnb lodging for one or two folks (male or female) available. Do consider joining us on that one or on another IPT. Scroll down for the DeSoto details or see all the current offerings here.

If you missed the comments and replies on the last blog post here, you might wish to revisit and check them out as there were several revealing exchanges and insightful questions and answers. All civil 🙂

Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime/Limit 13/Openings: 4

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for one or two couples, one couple and two singles, or four singles. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse, do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

Insane Low Prices on Nikon Lenses

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR Lens

John Svendsen is offering a used Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR lens in like-new condition for the BAA record low price by miles of $4199.00. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it: the front and rear lens caps, the lens trunk, the front lens cover, the lens strap,a LensCoat, a Wimberley low foot, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John by e-mail or by phone at 1-503-881-1172 (Pacific time).

The 600 f/4 lenses are ideal for those who do birds and wildlife. This current (lighter) version of the Nikon 600, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens sells new right now for $12,296.95. John’s lens is an amazing buy for someone young and relatively strong who would like to save an astounding $8,097.95. artie

Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF ED Lens

John Svendsen is also offering a used Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G IF ED lens (the original version) in near-mint condition for the BAA record low price by miles of $1499.00. The sale includes the original product box and everything that came in it: the front and rear lens caps, the lens trunk, the front lens cover, the lens strap, a Really Right Stuff LCF-14 C low foot, and insured ground shipping via major courier. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John by e-mail or by phone at 1-503-881-1172 (Pacific time).

This, the older version of the very versatile Nikon 200-400, is priced to sell. artie

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

White-Ibis-bathing-BLUER--_MAI7965Fort-DeSoto-Park,-Tierra-Verde,-FL

This image was created on September 25, 2018 on the DeSoto Fall IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III, and my souped up Nikon D850. ISO 400. Matrix metering at about zero: 1/4000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. Auto 1 WB at 9:12am on a clear, sunny morning.

On to the right Group (grp)/Shutter button/Continuous (AI Servo in Canon) AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure. The array was centered on the ibis’s neck.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +5. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

White Ibis bathing in parking lot puddle

Parking Lots Can Be Great for Bird Photography …

We did well at my #1 early morning DeSoto spot and decided to check out my #2 location. But we never made it. There were several large rain pools on the grass on either side of one of the bathrooms adjacent to the parking lot. With birds. We stayed with them for a bit and were rewarded when the White Ibises began bathing, one at a time, in the exact same spot. Apparently the exact depth of the water is super-important to bathing birds; when one bird is finished bathing and repositions to preen, another bird grabs the same spot and begins frolicking in the water. I see this most often with sandpipers and plovers. Though the ibises and a few Snow Egrets were very tame, I opted to go with the TC-e14 to reduce my angle of declination. I just missed on a few incoming ibises but did get some nice stuff on Mottled Duck. It always pays to keep your eyes and your mind open when looking for good places to photograph birds. We should see lots of White Ibises on the DeSoto Winter IPT (details below).

More on fine-tuning your BLUEs

I have been noticing more and more recently that when I set the WHITE and BLACK points during the RAW conversion that the BLUEs lose their punch, often being rendered a bit too light and a bit too YELLOW. Try refining your BLUEs by opening a Hue Saturation layer and selecting the BLUE channel. Then experiment by moving the Hue slider a bit to the right a very few points and moving the Lightness slider to the left to -10 or so. In addition, you can open a Selective Color and again selecting the BLUE channel. You can try moving the YELLOW slider to the left — try -10 or so, and adding a very few points of BLACK to the BLUEs.

Then, if you liked the look of the BLUEs in the RAW file do a comparison of the BLUEs in the RAW file with the BLUEs in your master TIFF file. By keeping your layers intact you can go back and further fine-tune the BLUEs until you are happy.


desoto-fall-card-b

Fort DeSoto in early winter is rife with tame birds. 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 2018 Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT/Thursday December 7 through the morning session on Monday December 10, 2018: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 6.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in early winter. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost 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. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should 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 the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, 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).

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

As with the fall IPT, this one will run with only a single registrant. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight 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 remember that the meet and greet will take place at 7:30 on the evening of Sunday, September 23. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


desoto-fall-card-a-layers

Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in late September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

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.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours; on this particular trip we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. 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 arrive.

Help Support the Blog

Please help support my efforts here on the blog by remembering to click on the logo link above each time that you shop Amazon. That would be greatly appreciated. There is no problem using your Prime account; just click on the link and log into your Prime account. With love, artie

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Web orders only. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.





Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New BAA Online Store 🙂

To show your appreciation for my continuing efforts here, we ask, as always, that you get in the habit of using my B&H affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your photo and electronics purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store, especially the Mongoose M3.6 tripod head, Wimberley lens plates, Delkin flash cards and accessories, and LensCoat stuff.

As always, we sell only what I have used, have tested, and can depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And please remember that I am always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

I would of course appreciate your using our B&H affiliate links for all of your major gear, video, and electronic purchases. For the photographic stuff mentioned in the paragraph above, and for everything else in the new store, we, meaning BAA, would of course greatly appreciate your business. Here is a huge thank you to the many who have been using our links on a regular basis and those who will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

Facebook

Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.

Typos

In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

November 8th, 2018

The Greeting Committee of One. And the Skinny on the Nikon 80-400 VR ...

Stuff

There was an influx of passerines (small perching birds) on Wednesday; I wound up with 32 species total in spite of missing a few easy birds. I had 28 on my Thursday morning walk; the birds that were present in the woods near my home were totally absent this morning …

I am still trying mightily to fill the single slot on the Falklands Land-based IPT (DEC 22, 2018 thru JAN 5, 2019). 🙁 If you missed the details or are interested in a discount offer, please see the blog post here and shoot me an e-mail immediately.

Only two folks are signed up for the Early Winter DeSoto IPT; do consider joining us on that or another IPT. You can see all the current offerings here.

Galapagos Photo-Cruise of a Lifetime/Limit 13/Openings: 4

Right now I have nine folks committed to the 2019 Galapagos Photo Cruise. A friend who had committed to the trip learned that he and his wife might not be able to attend. Thus, I have room for one or two couples, one couple and two singles, or four singles. If the archipelago is on your bucket list, please get in touch via e-mail asap with questions. If you might be registering with a friend or a spouse, do ask about the two at a time discount. See the complete details here.

BIRDS AS ART

BIRDS AS ART is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.



Selling Your Used Photo Gear Through BIRDS AS ART

Selling your used (or like-new) photo gear through the BAA Blog is a great idea. We charge only a 5% commission. One of the more popular used gear for sale sites charged a minimum of 20%. Plus assorted fees! Yikes. They went out of business. And e-Bay fees are now up to 13%. The minimum item price here is $500 (or less for a $25 fee). If you are interested please scroll down here or shoot us an e-mail with the words Items for Sale Info Request cut and pasted into the Subject line :). Stuff that is priced fairly — I offer pricing advice to those who agree to the terms — usually sells in no time flat. Over the past year, we have sold many dozens of items. Do know that prices on some items like the EOS-1D Mark IV, the old Canon 100-400, the old 500mm, the EOS-7D and 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. You can always see the current listings by clicking here or on the Used Photo Gear tab on the orange-yellow menu bar near the top of each blog post page.

New Listing

Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II Lens

Charlie Curry is offering a Canon EF 100-400mm L IS II lens in like-new condition for a very low $1598.00. The sale includes the front and rear caps, the lens hood, lens pouch/case, a low foot, the original foot, and insured ground shipping via major courier to US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact Charlie via e-mail or by phone at 1-407-448-7797 Eastern time.

Y’all know how much I loved and now miss this amazingly versatile lens. artie

Price Drop!

Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender (with extras!)

Price Reduced $400 on November 8, 2018.

Charlie Curry is offering a Canon EF 200-400 f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender in like-new condition (with extras) for $6,799.00 (was 7,199.00). The sale includes the lens trunk with keys, a RRS LCF-53 lens foot, the front and rear lens caps, and the original lens foot. Also included: the lens manual, the lens strap, and insured ground shipping via FedEx to US addresses only. Cashier’s check only.

Please contact Charlie via e-mail or by phone at 1-407-448-7797 Eastern time.

This is the world’s best lens for a trip to Africa. It kills also in the Galapagos and in South Georgia, the Falklands, and Antarctica. And I used mine a lot at Bosque and other dusty places where the built-in TC helps to keep your sensor clean. And I loved it in the Palouse for its versatility. Last summer, I often found myself wishing that I had taken the 200-400 rather than my 500 II on the Bear Boat Cubs IPT. Many nature photographers use it as their workhorse telephoto lens as it offers 784mm at f/8 with an external 1.4X TC added. The lens sells new at B&H for $10,999.00. You can save a neat $4,200.00 by grabbing Charlie’s like-new lens right now! artie

Money Saving Reminder

If you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H, would enjoy free overnight shipping, and would like a $50 discount on your first purchase, click here to order and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If you are looking to strike a deal on Canon or Nikon gear (including the big telephotos) or on a multiple item order, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell at (479) 381-2592 (Eastern time) and be sure to mention your BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order. Steve currently has several D850s in stock along with a Nikon 600mm f/4 VR. He is taking pre-orders for the new Nikon 500 P and the Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera body.

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. Those questions might deal with systems, camera bodies, accessories, and/or lens choices and decisions.

Emperor-Penguin-head-portrait-_BUP4970--Snow-Hill-Island,-Antarctica

This image was created on Day 1 — October 24, 2018 — of the recently concluded Emperor Penguins of Snow Hill Island expedition via icebreaker. While seated on the snow and ice, I used the hand held Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens (at 400mm) with my back-up Nikon D850. ISO 800. Matrix metering plus about 1 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Auto 1 WB on a cloudy-bright morning

One AF point up from the center AF point/Single/Shutter button AF as originally framed was active at the moment of exposure.

I kept my 80-400 rig on my shoulder via an RS-7 Curve Breathe Strap so that it was instantly accessible when I was working with the tripod-mounted 500 PF.

Focus peaking AF Fine-tune: +5. See the Nikon AF Fine-tune e-Guide here.

Emperor Penguin/the first head portrait!

The Greeting Committee of One

It was almost predictable. We were less than 1/3 of the way to the colony when we encountered a single, very friendly adult Emperor Penguin right next to the flagged track. I could not believe our good fortune as the bird was completely accepting of our presence. You might say that it was totally oblivious. While standing, I made a few images to fine-tune my exposure and then sat to get a sky background. I stayed with this bird for about 15 minutes before heading toward the colony. The walk was rather easy but for the fact that I and most everyone was over-dressed and thus over-heated. Perhaps it was the encounter with this gorgeous penguin that made me feel as if I were floating on air rather than walking or trudging. As I walked I was thinking of the too-cute chicks and of getting close enough to some adults to create some Emperor Penguin abstracts.

Having seen many tens of thousands of King Penguins and a few hundred emperors, I raised this question quite often during the trip: Which is the more beautiful species, king or emperor? When comparing similar species, we will often feel that the rarer species is the more beautiful … We will further explore this topic in the future.

The Skinny on the Nikon 80-400 VR …

I love having the Nikon 80-400 VR on my shoulder via an RS-7 Curve Breathe Strap so that it is accessible when I am working with a longer tripod-mounted super-telephoto lens. It is very versatile and comparable in weight to the Canon 100-400 II. At times I find the extra 20mm at the wide end very useful — it was great working at 80mm for the ice patterns, but I do of course miss the close-focusing abilities of the Canon intermediate zoom which focuses down to .98 meters or 3.2 feet. That as compared to 1.75 meters or 5.74 feet.

Like the original Canon 100-400mm lens, there is a strong possibility that the construction of the current Nikon 80-400 VR is somewhat suspect. Why do I say that? When photographing on the DeSoto Fall IPT I had the lens on my shoulder and was using it to create images of flocks of feeding wading birds with marsh grass backgrounds. It was zooming in and out perfectly. I went to the long lens for a minute and when I went to the 80-400mm again it got badly stuck at 200mm; zooming wider than that was difficult at best. I was absolutely sure that I had not banged the lens at all, and could not understand why it got stuck. So I sent my 80-400 VR in to be repaired and got a loaner 80-400 VR for the trip. It was a bit odd that both my 80-400 and the borrowed one needed +5 AFA fine-tune with my backup D850. My 80-400 got back just before I left but to be safe I brought the loaner on the trip. To be honest I was worried about a repeat of the problem. The loaner performed perfectly throughout the voyage.

I was glad that Nikon fixed the lens under warranty and am hoping that the problem does not recur. When I mentioned to friend/client Anita North that I was having trouble zooming wider than 80mm with the 80-400, she said that she was having similar problems. She brought hers on the Emperor Penguin expedition and indeed, hers got stuck at 200mm but not as badly as mine had. If you have had a similar problem with your Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR lens, please leave a detailed comment.


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Fort DeSoto in early winter is rife with tame birds. 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 2018 Fort DeSoto Early Winter IPT/Thursday December 7 through the morning session on Monday December 10, 2018: 3 1/2 DAYS: $1549. Limit 8/Openings: 6.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in early winter. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, and gulls that winter on the T-shaped peninsula. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost 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. We may very well get to see and photograph the amazing heron/egret hybrid that has been present for three year. And we should 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 the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, 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).

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

As with the fall IPT, this one will run with only a single registrant. The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Once you register, you will receive an e-mail with the hotel information. Do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with eight 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 remember that the meet and greet will take place at 7:30 on the evening of Sunday, September 23. Please shoot me an e-mail if you plan to register or if you have any questions.


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Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in late September. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

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.

Early and Late

Getting up early and staying out late is pretty much a staple on all BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours; on this particular trip we will get lots of sleep as the days are short. Being in the field well before the sun comes up and staying out until sunset will often present unique photographic opportunities, opportunities that will be missed by those who need their beauty rest. 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 arrive.

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Typos

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