Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
August 8th, 2019

Galapagos 2019 Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT Report. SONY Over Nikon in the Archipelago. And Canon Help Needed ...

What’s Up

As of 9:50am on Thursday, August 8, our phone and internet services have been fully restored. Jim is working on your orders and checking phone messages as I type. Thanks for your patience.

I’ve been online on my iPhone via the Verizon Personal Hotspot. I will be catching up on e-mails and Used Gear Page stuff as soon as this blog post is published.

The In-the-Field sessions at Nickerson (see below) are all wide open …

The Best Laid Plans …

The flight from Guayaquil (GYE) landed at 11:03 in Miami (MIA), exactly 20 minutes early; I had more than enough time to get through customs, claim and re-check my bags, and make my 1:29pm flight to Orlando (MCO) that was scheduled to arrive at 2:43pm. Piece of cake. After a stop at Publix on the way, I would be home at about 5pm. Then came the first bad weather delay e-mail from American Airlines. Then a second. Then a third and a fourth and a fifth. And a sixth. First, MIA was closed due to thunderstorms and when MIA re-opened, MCO was closed due to heavy thunderstorms. When MCO re-opened, they locked the doors and headed to the runway. We thought that we were good to go. Then the pilot announced that we were on hold because of inbound traffic at Orlando so we sat on the runway for another hour. The flight landed at 7:00pm, four hours and 17 minutes late. After a fast dinner at Bonefish Grill and a quick shopping stop at WalMart (Publix closes at 8;30pm), Jim got us home at 11:00ppm. As I had been awake since 1:45am Guayaquil time and had not napped on either flight, I was in bed and fast asleep by 11:03pm. And slept till seven.

Nickerson-composite

There is lots of great stuff at Nickerson Beach in August

Click on the composite to see a larger version

Nickerson Beach In-the-Field Session

All are invited to join me for an In-the-Field photo session or two, or a full day, during the middle of August 2019, as below. We will get to photograph Black Skimmers in flight, dueling in mid-air, and on the beach. With luck, we might get some great stuff on chicks and fledged young as the timing is perfect. We have a good chance to photograph Common Tern and American Oystercatcher, both with fledged young. We should enjoy some good gull photography with herring, great black-backed, and even lesser black-backed. Gull predation of fledged young skimmers is likely. We may also have some good chances with several species of migrant shorebirds, especially Sanderling. It goes without saying that as always, you will learn a ton.

Please contact me via e-mail if you would like to join me. Remember that I will be offline from Tuesday, July 23 until late in the day on WED 7 AUG. Call Jim or Jen weekdays at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to register. I will confirm on THURS 8 AUG.

Morning Sessions: pre-dawn (about 6am) till 9:30am: $400.00
Each session includes a working lunch/Photoshop/Workflow/Image review session. Limit 3.

Available: SAT 10 AUG, TUES 13 AUG, THURS 15 AUG.

Afternoon Sessions: 4:30pm until sunset (at about 8:10pm). Limit 3: $300.00.

Available: TUES 13 AUG or THURS 15 AUG.

Full-Days: $600.00. Limit 3.

Available: TUES 13 AUG or THURS 15 AUG.

B&H Event Space Program

I will be doing a B&H Event Space Program — Lessons From the Field BIRDS AS ART-Style — on Monday, August 12, 2019, 1:00 to 3:00 PM eastern time. You can register to attend in person or to view the event live online by clicking here. Here is the location: the second floor of B&H NYC SuperStore at 420 9th Avenue, New York NY 10001. Those planning on attending should register asap as spaces are limited.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We have all but one of the BigFeet in stock (phone orders only for now: 863-692-0906) but are sold out of the new FLN-60 BigFoot that was recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.

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 the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. 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.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page

bedford-logo-w-code

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.

GALAP-2019-composite

Galapagos 2019 Photo Cruise of a Lifetime Early Favorties

Galapagos 2019 Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT Report

It is hard to believe that I first visited the Galapagos in 2005. Until this year — about my 12th trip — 2010 had clearly been the best year for photography. The 2019 trip, however, was at least the equal of 2010. We had superb chances on sea lions hunting and catching tuna and other fish, lots of gorgeous yellow Land Iguanas, piles and piles of Marine Iguanas, two great sessions with Waved Albatross, both chicks and fledged young Blue-footed Booby, numbers of Nazca and both morphs of Red-footed Booby, great flight photography at South Plaza (can you say tropicbird ?), guava-eating Galapagos Tortoises, breeding Flightless Cormorants with nests and and small chicks, a great afternoon panga ride with penguins, an incredibly knowledgeable guide, a great crew, and a superb chef who prepared a variety of local dishes on a consistent basis. The average per-photographer-weight-gain was about four pounds …

After a few too-sunny sessions at the start of the trip, we were blessed with typical June through October weather: cloudy bright with a few light sprinkles. We snorkeled twice; the second session was mega. We saw more than 100 Pacific Green Turtles and several had King Angels and other colorful fish gleaning algae from their carapaces. The skill levels of the nine photographers ranged from experienced to novice. With two couples canceling within ten days of the departure date, we were quite comfy with only 10 passengers on a ship built to carry 14.

SONY Versus Nikon in the Galapagos …

I used my Nikon 500 PF with my souped-up D850 at North Seymour on our afternoon landing on July 23, the first day of the IPT; on the July 25 Punta Albemarle Flightless Cormorant landing — I could not find my SONY 1.4X teleconverter; on the sunny afternoon Hood Island landing; and then again at North Seymour on the visit on our last morning visit. I relied on my SONY gear for the other 16 or so landings and panga (zodiac) and ship-based photo sessions. I did skip one landing.

In low light conditions I used the Induro GIT 204L tripod topped by a FlexShooter Pro head with both the SONY and the Nikon gear. On sunny and cloud-bright days I handheld. For the most part, I used the a7R iii body with the SONY 100-400, often adding the 1.4X TC. With landings that offered good flight photography, I would bring along the a9 to maximize the opportunities. I made many SONY images that I absolutely loved. But I’d still give a slight edge to D850 images when it comes down to image quality and crazy-insane sharpness. Please don’t ask me if I could tell the RAW files from the D850 and the a7R iii apart. And many of the a9 images looked pretty darned good as well and stood up nicely to some healthy crops.

49 of the 60 images in the composite were created with my Sony gear. Why the dependence on SONY? The 0.98-meter minimum focusing distance of the SONY 100-400 was a huge advantage when photographing the tame birds and animals of the Galapagos archipelago. And the a9 killed when photographing seabirds in flight. The handheld SONY 100-400 with the a7R iii weighs 4 lbs, 12.9 oz while the handheld Nikon 500 PF with the gripped D-850 weighs 6 lbs, 4.4 oz. So my favorite SONY rig weighs 1 lb 7.5 oz less than my favorite Nikon rig. The Nikon rig has the reach advantage with and without the 1.4X TC (500mm to 400mm — both at f/5.6 and 700mm to 560mm –both at f/8). But when working with tame birds and animals, working in a group of photographers, and when restricted to often narrow trails, a zoom lens is head and shoulders above a fixed lens.

My Favorites

The early favorites composite that opened this blog post features 60 of my favorite images from the trip. I will likely wind up optimizing another 60 or so images. As I almost always process what I consider the very best images first, it is likely that most of the very best stuff is in the composite. I am hoping to find a few more family jewels during the second edit. I edit after each shooting session. Right now I am down to 1646 RAW files from the trip. One participant filled a 2-TB HD … After my second edit, I will likely get down to well less than 500 keepers.

Your Favorites

Based on viewing the admittedly small thumbnails in the composite above — it will not help to try to enlarge the image– please leave a comment and let us know which three images will prove to be the best. And of course, let us know why you made your picks.

Canon Help Needed

Info Received

If you have a good kitchen or postal scale that measures to a tenth of an ounce, please let me know via e-mail (or comment) the weights of the Canon gear below (assuming that you own it) in pounds and ounces to the nearest tenth of an ounce:

Canon 100-400 II with the hood and rear cap with the lens foot removed.

Lens foot for Canon 100-400 II without a plate.

Canon 5D Mark IV with the loaded battery grip.

This just in: Thanks to Adam Rubenstein and “Bug” Bob Allen for e-mailing me the requested weights.

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 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.

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 :).

August 7th, 2019

Important Notice. And On the Way Home

Important Notice

When we arrived in Guayaquil on Tuesday afternoon, I got a text from Jim at the office stating that a storm had down a tree in our backyard and left us without power, phone, and internet. Power has been restored and phone and internet services are scheduled to be up and running on August 8. Please accept our apologies for any mail order delays or other inconveniences.

On the Way Home

After a truly superb Galapagos trip rife with amazing photographic opportunities, the alarm was set for 1:45am on Wednesday morning. I arrived at the gate at 3:00am for my 5:44am flight to MIA. If I make my connection, I should arrive in Orlando at 2:45pm and then home in time for an early dinner. Lots of photos and lessons soon.

with love, artie

August 6th, 2019

SONY a9 Center Zone AF for Flight. And Two Questions ...

What’s Up?

I will be aboard the Samba for two weeks beginning on Tuesday, July 23 photographing in nature photography heaven, the Galapagos archipelago. I will be offline from then until the late afternoon of Tuesday, August 6. You can reach Jim or Jen by phone weekdays at the office (863-692-0906) if you need help with mail order or IPT stuff. The blog will be published at least every other day while I am away.

B&H Event Space Program

I will be doing (another) B&H Event Space Program — Lessons From the Field BIRDS AS ART-Style — on Monday, August 12, 2019, 1:00 to 3:00 PM eastern time. You can register to attend in person or to view the event live online by clicking here. Here is the location: the second floor of B&H NYC SuperStore at 420 9th Avenue, New York NY 10001. Those planning on attending should register asap as spaces are limited.

FlexShooter Pro Update

We currently have FlexShooter Pro heads in stock here. We have all but one of the BigFeet in stock (phone orders only for now: 863-692-0906) but are sold out of the new FLN-60 BigFoot that was recently re-designed for the Nikon 600 VR. Click here to access the pretty much complete FlexShooter Pro story with videos.

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 the 7D Mark II and the original 400mm DO lens have been dropping steadily. Most recently the price of used Canon 600mm f/L IS II lenses have been dropping like a rock with the introduction of the 600 III. 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.

As used gear sales have slowed a bit in recent months — especially with dSLR bodies, there are lots of great buys right now on the Used Gear Page

bedford-logo-w-code

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.

Royal-Tern-landing-with-imm-Western-Gull-watching-_DSC4532-San-Diego-CA-1

This image was created on January 27, 2018 at La Jolla, CA with the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 560mm) and the blazingly fast AF king, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera ISO: 400. Multi metering at about +1/3 stop as framed: 1/3200 sec. at f/98 in Manual mode. AUTO WB at 9:34am on a sunny day.

Zone AF was active at the moment of exposure.

Image #1: Royal Tern — incoming adult with immature Western Gull looking on

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

SONY a9 Center Zone AF for Flight

With the SONY a9, I go pretty much with Center Zone AF when photographing birds in flight. Initial focusing acquisition is lightning fast, faster then with any camera body I have ever used. Tracking accuracy is also superb, especially with birds flying right at the camera at high speed. A little-realized benefit of Center Zone is that it offers lots of compositional options. It is easy to place the bird off-center while maintaining sharp focus. With today’s featured image, it allowed me to place the bird in the upper right portion of the image and still wind up with a razor-sharp eye.

Note: Patrick Sparkman uses and recommends Wide for flight witht the SONY a9 for even more compositional latitude. I will be trying that in the future.

Royal-Tern-landing-_DSC4532-San-Diego-CA-1

This is a second version of Image #1, created as above with the handheld Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens with the Sony FE 1.4x Teleconverter (at 560mm) and the blazingly fast AF king, the Sony Alpha a9 Mirrorless Digital Camera ISO: 400. Multi metering at about +1/3 stop as framed: 1/3200 sec. at f/98 in Manual mode. AUTO WB at 9:34am on a sunny day.

Zone AF was active at the moment of exposure.

Image #2: Royal Tern — incoming adult wtih immature Western Gull head removed

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Two Questions

Note: Image #1 is exactly as it came out of the camera with adjustments to tonality made to the RAW file in Capture One. To create a second version, I eliminated the head of the young gull using Content-Aware Fill.

  • 1-I made one very minor change with the Spot Healing Brush on Image #2. What was it?
  • 2-Which of the two images do you like, the one with the gull’s head or the one without? Why?

SD-2019-card

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

The 2020 San Diego 4 1/2-DAY BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tour (IPT) WED JAN 8, 2020 thru and including the morning session on SUN JAN 12: 4 1/2 days: $2099.(Limit: 8/Openings: 6)

Introductory Meet and Greet at 7:00pm on the evening before the IPT begins; WED JAN 7, 2020.

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

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

Learning Exposure, Whether You Like It Or Not

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

San-Diego-card-B-2019

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

It Ain’t Just Pelicans

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


san-diego-card-neesie

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

The San Diego Details

This IPT will include five 3 1/2 hour morning photo sessions, four 2 1/2 hour afternoon photo sessions, four lunches, and after-lunch image review and Photoshop sessions. To ensure early starts, breakfasts will be your responsibility. And so that we can get some sleep, dinners will be on your own.

A $599 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your slot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “Arthur Morris) to us at BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 3385, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, will be due on 10/11//2018. If we do not receive your check for the balance on or before the due date we will try to fill your spot from the waiting list. Please print, complete, and sign the form that is linked to here and shoot it to us along with your deposit check. If you register by phone, please print, complete and sign the form as noted above and either mail it to us or e-mail the scan. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance for both big international trips and US-based IPTs is highly recommended as we never know what life has in store for us. I strongly recommend that you purchase quality travel insurance. Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options you can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. My family and I use and depend on the great policies offered by TIS whenever we travel. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check or running your credit card. Whenever purchasing travel insurance, be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.


san-diego-card-b

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

Getting Up Early and Staying Out Late

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

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 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.

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 :).