Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
July 18th, 2020

Now in Stock: the Levered FlexShooter Pro Head

What’s Up?

On Friday morning, I wound up photographing a single Bloodberry (Rivina-humilis) blossom in our butterfly garden for well-more than 30 minutes before heading down to the lake. On Saturday morning it looked as if it might be cloudy so I decided to head to Tiger Creek Preserve to look for some new wildflowers. But even before I left ILE it became evident that it was gonna be another hot sunny morning so I made a u-turn and headed down to the lake. I started off with a perched Great Egret while practicing my RawDigger-evaluated bright white exposures. Next I spent 30 minutes photographing a picked and Plamped Virgina-Buttonweed-(Diodia-virginiana) flower. At less than 1/2 inch the tripod-mounted Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens for Sony E was perfect for the job. For the most part I worked between 1.2X and 1.6X magnification. Photos to come.

What They are Saying About the FlexShooter Pro

Learn more about the ballhead that acts like a gimbal head and see the instructional video here.

Experiencing Weightlessness– Wow!

By Gregory

I own a Canon 500 mm lens, and a while back severely damaged the muscles and nerves in my left arm. With the FlexShooter Pro, I feel like the bionic man. I can use the lens, enjoy it, and try to create some great shots. It has given back to me the ability to enjoy my camera again.

Goodbye Gimbal!

By David

I use the FlexShooter Pro my Nikon 800mm f/5.6 lens, a precision piece of equipment. It is smooth as silk even with the heavy lens, stays and where you point it. There is no need for tightening and loosening knobs! The head weighs next-to-nothing and allows for a comfortable over the shoulder carry with your lens tucked neatly away. It is the best of both worlds: a gimbal head and a ballhead neatly packaged in a single, attractive, lightweight unit.

Much More Versatile Than a Gimbal Head!

By Timothy

While I do not have a lot of experience with a gimbal head, I know that they are big, bulky and heavy. As a mixed shooter of both landscapes and wildlife, the FlexShooter Pro was an interesting choice. After two weeks of solid use, I have found it to be well-built, very functional, and much more versatile than a gimbal head or ball-head alone.

The Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro Head

The Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro Head: $679.00 plus shipping only from BIRDS AS ART

Before I began carrying the FlexShooter Pro, I insisted that Csaba Karai, the Hungarian designer, make me a batch with a larger knob. He kindly did and continues to do so. But even with the larger knob, some folks — especially those with relatively weak fingers — prefer a levered clamp to a clamp with a knob ss they are easier to operate. In North America, the Levered FlexShooter Pro Head is now available only from BIRDS AS ART. Over the past month we have had several inquiries. Right now we have five in stock.

Do understand that the Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro Head maintains all the great benefits of the FlexShooter Pro, the ballhead that acts like a gimbal and works great with any rig from the longest, heaviest super-telephoto lens to a camera-body-mounted wide angle. The latter is possible because of the bi-directional clamp; it is no longer necessary to travel with a gimbal head for long lens photography and a ballhead for scenic photography …

You can order yours here for $679.00 plus shipping in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store.

The Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro Head

Setting the Tension

The Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro Head ships with the tension knob (A) at the loosest setting, with the knob fully turned router-clockwise. Note: not all “Arca-Swiss compatible” lens plates have identical measurements. You can follow the steps below with the plate or a short lens (or camera body) in your left hand, and the head in your right hand (or resting on a table). If you are setting the tension for a plate that is affixed to a super-telephoto lens, it is recommended that you mount the head to a sturdy tripod before following the steps below.

Here is how to set the tension correctly for your specific lens plate.

1- Begin with the lever open and then close it. It should close very easily.

2- Pull the lever to open, place the lens plate into the jaws of the clamp, and close the lever. Again, it should close very easily. With the lever fully open, tighten the tension knob (A) two turns (clockwise).

3- Now close the lever. If it closes with a decent amount of force needed, you have set the proper tension. Set it and forget it unless you are using a different plate (that might have a slightly different width).

4- If it still closes easily, tighten the tension knob (A) two more turns (clockwise). Repeat until you need a decent amount of force to close the lever. Do not force things. If it is very difficult to close the lever, loosen the tension knob (A) one turn (counter-clockwise).

5- By experimenting, you will learn to set the correct tension quickly and easily. Once you get it right with a decent (but not excessive!) amount of force needed to close the lever, you are good to go. Set it and forget it; the tension knob will stay in place.

If you do some serious macro photography, and do not own and use a focusing rail, I recommend that you use the FlexShooter Pro rather than the Levered-Clamp FlexShooter Pro so that you can move the plate in the jaws as needed when pointing your macro lens downward …

July 17th, 2020

Head Angle Questions: a Matter of Degree ... Gatorland. How Fast They Grow! And I Liked the Color Version Best ...

What’s Up?

On Wednesday morning I found a ditch a few blocks from home surrounded for two hundred yards on each side by large (as-yet-identified) blooms. I did some flowers, and as the sun came up, several butterfiles began nectaring on the rather plain-looking blossoms. There were several swallowtails species including Black Swallowtail, Tiger Swallowtail, and the object of my desire, the smaller but spectacular Zebra Swallowtail. One of the Tiger Swallowtails was somewhat sedentary, often landing and drinking from the same blossom for a minute or more, but bird’s had pecked its hindwings and damaged them; what’s a swallowtail without it swallowtails? There were two pristine Zebra Swallowtails just out of their chrysalides.

I tried for almost an hour to create a good Zebra Swallowtail image, traipsing up and down the both sides of the canal in the heat. They would land but only for a second. And when they did, they rarely spread their wings flat. Heck, maybe they never do. Anyway, I give up at about 8:30am and headed home for breakfast. On Thursday morning I did a few flowers and spent a few minutes down by the lake when I created Image #2.

I will be heading out early today — Friday, 17 JULY 2020.

I was glad to learn yesterday that John Buswell sold his Canon EOS 7D Mark II within hours of it being listed on the Used Gear Page.

Color or B&W?

In the recent Some Respite From the Heat; this would make a nice jigsaw puzzle. On Not Letting the Old Man In … And a Used Like-New Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens! blog post here, opinions were divided about 50-50. My very great preference is for the color version because I love being at Bosque early in the season when the cottonwoods are still sporting some yellow fall color.

Please Remember

If you enjoy and learn from the blog, please remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so will not cost you a single penny and if you use Bedfords, you will save at least $50.00 on all orders greater than $1000.00. In these crazy times — I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) — remembering to use my B&H link or shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and will be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes can always help out by clicking here if they see fit.

BIRDS AS ART

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

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save $50. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.

103 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

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 over $1000.00, 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 has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



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.

This image was created at Gatorland on 28 APR 2019. I used the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at at 560mm) and the AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear dial. ISO 800: 1/320 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 8:21am on a mostly cloudy morning.

Expand Flexible Spot (S) AF-C was active at the moment of exposure.

Great Egret — head portrait of large chick

A Matter of Degree A

In Image #1,the young Great Egret, still at the nest, the bird’s heaad is turned about six degrees toward us. As a result, the bird seems quite engaged with the viewer, but the bill tip — not covered by the shallow depth-of-field while working wide open, is soft.

Would you stop down to get the bill tip as sharp as the eye? Why or why not?

Gatorland

Gatorland re-opened on June 20 with social distancing and masks required (for the humans)! But it does not open until 10am and closes at 5pm. The Photographer’s Pass program ended during the pandemic. Assuming that they continued feeding the gators while the joint was closed, it is likely that there will be some birds around, especially young of the year. With the middle-of-the-day hours, a cloudy day would be best for photography. If you visit, let us know how you do.

Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens

With or without the 1.4X teleconverter, the Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens is fabulous for close work with tame birds and large flowers, frogs, large insects like butterflies, and lots more.

Before I got some longer SONY lenses I used it with success on a Saan Diego IPT with the 2X teleconverter!

This image was created on 16 JULY 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. Working from my SUV, I used the Induro GIT 204/FlexShooter Mini-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO: 400. Exposure determined by Zebras with exposure compensation on the rear wheel: 1/250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 8:02am on a sunny morning …

Trakcing Flexible Spot (M) AF-C performed perfectly and produced a razor-sharp eye.

Image #2: Sandhill Crane — head portrait of 9-week old colt

A Matter of Degree B

In Image #2, the young crane’s head is just about parallel to the back of the camera, i.e., the sensor (formerly known as the film plane). Perhaps, the head is angled one-half degree away from us. WDYT? In any case, the eye, the face, and the tip of the bill are in sharp focus, but the bird does not seem engaged with the viewer.

Your Call

Which of today’s two featured images do you like best overall? Why?

Do you prefer the head angle in Image #1, the head angle in Image #2, or somewhere in between.

I like one of these images a lot, the other, not so much. I will share my thoughts with you here in a few days.

The Surviving Mother’s Day Colt

It is hard to believe that the bird in Image #2 is one of the two chicks that hatched on May 9th or 10th of this year. If my math is correct, that makes it right around nine weeks old. How fast they grow! In the next few weeks, I hope to photograph this bird with a nice pink cap.

If In Doubt …

If you are 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 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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 regularly visit 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.

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 :).

July 15th, 2020

Itsy-Bitsy Questions. And Why I Liked the Color Version ...

What’s Up?

With both fields and the South Peninsula flooded, I have been sticking to the side streets in search of wildflowers. I learn a bit more about working with the tripod-mounted Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens for Sony E.

I will be heading out early today — Wednesday 15 JULY 2020. Mid-July? Are you kidding me?

Thanks to the folks who commented on the color or B&W question in the Some Respite From the Heat; this would make a nice jigsaw puzzle. On Not Letting the Old Man In … And a Used Like-New Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens! blog post here. Opinions were divided 50-50. I far prefer the color version as the yellow leaves remind me that my favorite time at Bosque is early in the season when there are still some yellow leaves on the cottonwoods.

With one sign-up already, I am really going to try to make Bosque work, hoping that it will be the first-ever socially-distanced IPT … The very best news is that the 2020 Festival of the Cranes has been canceled so we will be able to visit on what are usually the perfect dates! Do check out my Bosque Gallery here to see the creative possibilities.

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

John Buswell is offering a Canon EOS 7D Mark II in near-mint condition for a very low $598.00. The sale includes the front lens cap, the strap, the one original battery and charger, a 32 GB Sandisk Extreme Pro 160 MB/s compact flash card, the manual, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made.

Please contact John via e-mail or via phone or text: 1-978-380-0456 (Eastern time zone).

Both Patrick Sparkman and I used and loved the 7D Mark II until about four years ago when we both committed to using full-frame Canon bodies. We both made some truly great images with it. Two of my three 2016 Nature’s Best honored entries were created with the 7D II, one still, and one video. One thing is for sure: the 7D Mark II is the greatest value ever in a digital camera body. If you have any doubts, type the word “Cadieux” in the little search box top right and follow any or all of the links to see the great images that BPN Avian Moderator Dan Cadieux has created with his 7D series bodies … artie

SONY e-Guide Discount Program

Purchase a (new) qualifying SONY camera body (a7r iii, a7r iv, a9, a9 ii) from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $40 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 200-600mm G lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a $25 discount on the SONY e-guide. Purchase a (new) SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens from Bedfords or using a BIRDS AS ART B&H affiliate link, and you will receive a free SONY e-guide with one or two videos.

Please send your Bedford’s or B&H receipts to me via e-mail to receive your discount and your ordering instructions. Folks purchasing from Bedfords and using the BIRDSASART code will save $50. Folks sending their B&H receipts may need to wait a few days to have their purchases confirmed. Folks using Bedfords will have their purchases confirmed immediately.

102 sold to rave reviews.

The SONY e-Guide by Patrick Sparkman and Arthur Morris

The Sony Camera User’s e-Guide (and Videos)

Click here to purchase the guide with one Camera Set-up Video. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your camera body so that we can send you a link for the correct video.

Click here to purchase the guide with two Camera Set-up Videos. Be sure to e-mail us by clicking here to specify your two camera bodies so that we can send you links for the correct videos.

Click here to learn more about the SONY e-Guide.

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 over $1000.00, 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 has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H. Those include the SONY a7r IV, the SONY 200-600, the SONY 600mm f/4 GM, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is eager to please.



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.

This image was created on the morning of 11 JULY 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. I used the Induro GIT 404L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens for Sony E and the 61MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body ISO 800: 1/30 sec. at f/? (probably f/8) in Manual mode. The exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger from a series of bracketed images. AWB at 8:10am early on a still, partly sunny morning.

Manual focus using the combination of Manual Focus Toggle and Focus Magnifier tips from the SONY e-guide along with the 2-second timer. Plamped in place to combat the breeze.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #1: Green Garden Spider on Grassleaf Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia graminifolia) blossom

The Situation

On the morning of Saturday past, I returned to the corner of Flamingo Drive and Bougainville Drive — just six blocks from my home — to check out the three Grassleaf Barbara’s Buttons blossoms. Two of the three flowers had a Green Garden Spider on it. I spent a good thirty minutes photographing the larger of the two spiders. The third blossom had a smaller brown spider on it; I passed on that one, opting to concentrate my efforts on the largest more colorful subject.

This image was also created on the morning of 11 JULY 2020 at Indian Lake Estates. I used the Induro GIT 404L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO Lens for Sony E and the 61MP monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body ISO 1000: 1/200 sec. at f/? (probably f/5.6) in Manual mode. The exposure was confirmed as perfect by RawDigger from a series of bracketed images. AWB at 7:58am early on a still, partly sunny morning.

Manual focus using the combination of Manual Focus Toggle and Focus Magnifier tips from the SONY e-guide. Plamped in place to combat the breeze.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image #2: Green Garden Spider on Grassleaf Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia graminifolia) blossom — wider view

Your Favorite?

Which of today’s two featured images is the strongest? Do you like the tighter view in Image #1 or the wider view in Image #2? Do let us know why. Feel free to comment on the two image designs as well.

Depth-of-Field Question

Despite the fact that the aperture probably used for Image #1 was smaller than the aperture used for Image #2, much more of the spider is in sharp focus in Image #2. Why?

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

A 100% crop of Green Garden Spider on Grassleaf Barbara’s Buttons (Marshallia graminifolia) blossom — wider view

Manual Focus Question …

After clicking on Image #2 to enlarge it, take a close look and let us know if you think that focus on face was spot on, slightly back focused, or slightly front focused. Explain why.

Do note the incredible detail in 7r iv files ….

Bosque del Apache 2019 IPT

Notice the incredible variety of images that you can learn to make by developing your skills and your creative vision on a BAA IPT.

Bosque del Apache NWR 2020 IPT

NOV 18 (afternoon session) thru the morning session on November 23, 2020. 5 DAYS. Four full and two half days. $1999.00. Deposit: $500.00. Limit: 8 photographers/Openings: 5.

Extra Day Options: Please e-mail to learn about the before or after In-the-Field Day options.

Be sure to check out my Bosque Gallery here to see the creative possibilities.

The very best news is that the 2020 Festival of the Cranes has been canceled so we will be able to visit on what are usually the perfect dates!

I quit going to Bosque several years ago as conditions had worsened each year for several seasons running. In 2018, things had improved dramatically and in 2019 the photography was great. Simply put, I know Bosque better than anyone. Join me to learn how wind and sky conditions influence bird photography, how to create dramatic sunrise and sunset silhouettes, how to be in the right place at the right time, and how to create contest-winning blurs. As usual, you will learn to get the right exposure every time, to use your camera’s AF system to create pleasing, balanced image designs, and to improve your flight photography skills.

We should get to photograph many thousands of Snow Geese, more than a few blast-offs, some Ross’s Geese, and lots of Sandhill Cranes in the water, taking flight and flying. Depending on local conditions we may get to shoot some ducks: point-blank American Wigeon and Wood Duck. With any luck, we might enjoy sunrises and sunsets that leave you in tears. Live, eat, and breathe photography with one of (if not the) world’s premier photographic educators at one of his very favorite locations on the planet. Top-notch Photoshop instruction. Join me to learn to think like a pro and to recognize situations and to anticipate them based on the weather. Every time we make a move, I will let you know why. When you get home, applying what you learned will prove to be invaluable.

Lunch is included.

To Register

To register, send your $500 deposit — check made out to BIRDS AS ART — via US Mail to PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. Or call Jim weekdays at 863-692-0906 to put your deposit on a credit card. Balances should be paid in full by check no later than two months before the IPT. Remember that with the uncertainty of the pandemic, folks may cancel at any time for any reason and still receive a full refund.

If In Doubt …

If you are 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 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 or Bedfords, 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 or Bedfords 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 regularly visit 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.

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 :).