Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
January 26th, 2020

The Number One Reason That I Gave Up On Nikon: the lack of consistently crispy eye skins at 840mm. Plus a few more

What’s Up?

What started out as totally foggy turned into a mega-morning at La Jolla. Just for the fun of it I left my 600 f/4 in the trunk, loaned my 200-600 to Patrick Sparkman, and shot the whole session with my SONY 70-200mm GM lens. At 9:00am I added the 1.4X TC. We got really close to some beautiful pelicans and then had some even more beautiful birds land right in front of us. I was doing tight head portraits at 280mm. Then a great brunch as usual at the nearby Cafe Vahik.

ps: Patrick fell in love with the 2-6 and will be buying one soon, using my Bedford link with the discount thank you very much.

The plan is that after one last morning session (on Sunday 26 JAN) Patrick and I will get together and create the long-awaited SONY camera body guide video …

Canon EOS-1D Mark II. 8606

Homer Bald Eagle Photography Lessons

Click on the play triangle to learn about getting the right exposure for black and white subjects in sun or on cloudy or snowy days, the best lenses for eagle photography in Homer, creating pleasing blurs, basic and advanced composition, and tons more in this free video. Click on the little broken white square lower right next to YouTube to view the video full screen. Hit Escape to exit full screen. Enjoy!

This image was made with a hand held Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS lens and the EOS-1D Mark II.

If you missed the Homer IPTs announcement (there are two separate trips), or if you are thinking of attending, be sure to see the complete offering here.

Image #32: Bald Eagles: Striking!

More On Homer

For the first trip only, I am offering a $500/person discount for those who sign up with a friend or spouse. You can access the complete trip offering here.

IPT #1: FEB 25 through the full day on MAR 1, 2020. Six full days: $4799.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2.

IPT #2: MAR 3 through the full day on MAR 7, 2020. Five full days: $3999.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2.

Via e-mail from Multiple IPT veteran Greg Ferguson:

I attended this IPT in 2011 and can only say it was the most intensive bird photography I have ever experienced. My arms were tired and sore from shooting so many action photos. It is highly recommended! I called Jim today and signed up for a reprise. Greg

Via e-mail from Multiple IPT veteran Dick Curtain:

I attended the Homer IPT in the past and can only say it was a great experience. Many eagles, beautiful scenery, great instruction, and many fond memories. Don’t miss it.

IPT Updates

  • The Greatest-ever Bald Eagle Experience IPTs:
  • IPT #1: FEB 25 through the full day on MAR 1, 2020. Six full days: $4799.00 (Price reduced to $3999.00!). Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2.
  • IPT #2: MAR 3 through the full day on MAR 7, 2020. Five full days: $3999.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2
  • The 2020 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — MAR 19 thru the morning session 22 MAR 2020: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 4.
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Archipelago Photographic Experience. August 17-31, 2021 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,999.00. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings: 7.

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.

BIRDS AS ART

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

This image was created on August 30, 2019 at Indian Lake Estates. Working fromo my vehicle, I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4E FL ED VR lens, the Nikon AF-S teleconverter TC-14E III, and the Nikon D850 DSLR camera body.. ISO 400. Matrix metering plus about 1/3 stop: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:37am on a clear morning.

Image #1: 100% Photo Mechanic view of Killder

Click on the image to see a larger version.

The Number One Reason That I Gave Up On Nikon

The number one reason that I gave up on Nikon was inconsistent focusing accuracy when working with the Nikon 600mm f/4 VR lens, the TC-E14 teleconverter, and the D850. I AF fine-tuned that rig at 840mm until I was bleary-eyed. I developed new techniques for micro-adjusting. At times I was sure that I had figured something out as I every image was razor-sharp on the bird’s eye with the crispy eye-skins that I love. Then the next day focus would be off — either front-focusing or back-focusing — and it was back to square one.

For the Killdeer image above, I was in my vehicle with the rig on the FlexShooter Pro, I was using a single AF point that was placed right on the bird’s eye. I had plenty of shutter speed and I even stopped down four clicks, 1 1/3 stops from f/5.6 to f/9. Yet the image is clearly back-focused with the sharpest focus on the bird’s bill. I simply could not live with this inconsistency and began to look seriously at SONY.

This image was created on September 29, 2019 on the Fort DeSoto Fall IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 1.4x teleconverter, and the 61-MP Monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless digital camera body. ISO 400. Exposure determined by Zebras: 1/1000 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB at 8:48am on a clear morning.

Image #2: 100% crop of Sanderling

Click on the image to see a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

SONY at 840mm

The Sanderling image was a bit larger in the frame than the Killdeer. Thus, the depth-of-field at f/9 for the Sanderling would be shallower than in the Killdeer image. And the bird was moving. Yet the Sanderling image is clearly sharper and accurately focused on the bird’s eye. As I experimented with the various AF modes, my SNOY results became consistently sharper.

It was at about this time that I decided to work for three months only with my SONY gear as I was still not 100% sold. After only one month, I decided to sell my Nikon gear … I was all-in on SONY.

This image was created on September 28, 2019 on the Fort DeSoto Fall IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304L/FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and the 61 megapixel monster, the Sony Alpha a7R IV Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 1600. Exposure determined by Zebras: 1/1000 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:17pm just before sunset on a partly cloudy afternoon.

Image #3:Brown Pelican tight face portrait

Click on the image to see a larger, inexplicably sharper version.

Plus a few more …

  • 1- 99% razor-sharp flight images especially with the a9 ii.
  • 2- Razor-sharp images at 1200mm.
  • 3- Fast frame-rate camera bodies that weigh well less than half of the top-of-the-line dSLRs.
  • 4- SONY Zebra technology allows you to get the right exposure every time if you know how to set and use them.
  • 5- SONY offers the amazingly versatile 200-600 lens.
  • 6- No micro-adjusting or focus fine-tuning.
  • 7- A variety of effective AF modes including the amazing Flexible Spot (M) with Tracking!
  • 8- SONY has enabled me too consistently create images that I simply could not make with my Canon or Nikon gear. And Patrick and I are still learing new stuff!
  • 8- SONY is fun!

From left to right clockwise back to the center: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill downstroke, Brown Pelican sunrise silhouette, Double-crested Cormorant pre-dawn blur, Roseate Spoonbill flapping after bath, Brown Pelican taking flight, Roseate Spoonbill taking flight, Reddish Egret white morph breeding plumage in flight, and Reddish Egret dark morph breeding plumage in flight.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks on the 2018 trip.

You can click on each card to enjoy a larger version.

2020 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — MAR 19 thru the morning session 22 MAR 2020: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 4.

3 1/2 days on the boat including four morning photo sessions and three afternoon sessions via customized pontoon boat.

Price per day Reduced from the 2018 rates! Please e-mail for details on IPT veteran and couples’ discounts. Pro-rated options may be available …

We will be leaving the dock very early for the morning sessions (weather permitting) in hopes of photographing pre-dawn fly-outs and blast-offs. All sessions are planned for the Alafia Banks Roseate Spoonbill Rookery. We might consider other options in the unlikely event of horrific weather. There will be lots of opportunities for flight photography of several species including and especially Roseate Spoonbill. Also likely for flight photography are nesting Brown Pelican, both morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White and Glossy Ibises, and Double-crested Cormorant. We should have some good chances with birds carrying nesting material. This IPT includes all boat and guide fees, in the field instruction, chest waders (feel free to bring your own of course to assure a perfect fit), and three working lunches on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. For the most part, we will be standing in mid-calf to knee-high water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with mobility or balance problems. Note however that some folks opt to stay on the boat to photograph. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks

The Timing and Tides are Perfect!

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumaged spoonbills … The 2020 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT represents an incredible opportunity to photograph Florida’s most wanted species. I do hope that you can join us. There will be a meet and greet at 7:00pm sharp on the evening of WED 18 MAR, 2020. All of the images on the cards were made on the Hooptie Deux from late-February through March, prime time for the spoonies in mega-breeding plumage. Many folks have written expressing interest so please do not tarry.

Please e-mail to hold your spot. Then you may either secure your spot by calling Jim or Jennifer at the office at 863-692-0906 and leaving the $500 deposit on a credit card or sending your check for payment in full to us as follows with the check made out to:

BIRDS AS ART and sent here via US mail:

BIRDS AS ART
PO BOX 7245
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

If you call to leave your deposit, you will be asked to mail your check for the balance.


hooptie-card-shadle-aa

Images courtesy of our guide; copyright 2017 Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Everybody Loves Spoonbills!

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage…. with long telephoto lenses. A 500 or 600 with a 1.4X TC is perfect for this trip.

Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography often with the birds likely carrying nesting material), Double-crested Cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White) in breeding plumage. Some of the White Ibises may be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition, we may get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips will most likely be back to Alafia Banks for the spoonbills with an option to visit a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather, artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an extensive image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes lunches on the full days with small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

The SONY Zebras Exposure Guide Short Video

If you own a high-end SONY camera body, there is absolutely no reason that you should not be getting a perfect or near-perfect exposure every time with every image even in the most difficult situations — white birds, dark backgrounds, dark birds against white skies, simply pick your shutter speed and aperture and then adjust the ISO on the Control Wheel until you see faint Zebras. It’s that simple. Learn how in the SONY Zebras Exposure Guide Short Video. To order your copy, please send a Paypal to us at birdsasart@verizon.net for $30. Please state in the Paypal that the payment is for the SONY Zebras Exposure Guide Short Video.

Alternatively, you can place a phone order for the SONY Zebras Exposure Guide by calling Jim at 863-692-0906 MON to THURS and most FRI mornings.

Folks who have purchased a SONY lens and/or a SONY body using either my B&H affiliate links or from Steve Elkins at Bedfords will enjoy a $20 discount. If you qualify, please shoot me an e-mail so that I can confirm your discount.

Folks who have purchased the SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens using my links will receive the file for free. If you qualify for a free copy, please shoot me an e-mail so that I can confirm your discount.

After I confirm your discount, you can either call Jim or send us a Paypal (as above).

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 will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

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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 :).

January 25th, 2020

Cleaning Up ...

What’s Up?

I must be getting pelicanned-out, at least in the afternoons. I took off for the. second afternoon it a row! I am however looking forward to meeting Patrick Sparkman at the cliffs early this morning, Saturday, January 25, 2020.

I fly home early this coming Monday.

Cleaning Up: Part I

You can find all the items I talk about in the video in the BAA Online store here.

ps: be sure to see Part II of this video immediately below: Cleaning Up — Duh!

Cleaning Up — Duh!

Well, I left out some important stuff about sensor cleaning so I added Part II. You can order your LensPen and other sensor cleaning accessories in the BIRDS AS ART OnLine Store here. The upper left corner of the sensor of my a9 ii had gotten pretty bad so I had a go of it with a LensPen and missed only a single speck. I will get after that this afternoon. IAC, the improvement as seen in an f/22 sky-test was dramatic. (Sensor cleaning details and the f/22 sky-test instructions are included with the purchase of a LensPen.

Comments and Questions

Comments and questions are of course welcome.

January 24th, 2020

The SONY 200-600 with the a9 ii Kills at Long-Billed Curlew City (aka Morro Bay) Too!

What’s Up?

After enjoying yet another great morning (Wednesday, January 23) with the pelicans on the cliffs at La Jolla, I took my first afternoon off since I arrived in California on January 3rd! Thursday morning was excellent but with not quite as much action as the previous day.

It looks as if there will soon be only single spaces left on both the first and second Homer eagle trips …

Please take a moment to leave a comment and let us know which of today’s featured images you feel is the strongest and do let us know why yoou made your choice.

Homer Bald Eagle Photography Lessons

Click on the play triangle to learn about getting the right exposure for black and white subjects in sun or on cloudy or snowy days, the best lenses for eagle photography in Homer, creating pleasing blurs, basic and advanced composition, and tons more in this free video. Click on the little broken white square lower right next to YouTube to view the video full screen. Hit Escape to exit full screen. Enjoy!

This image was made with a Canon 70-200mm lens and the EOS-1D Mark II at 1/800 sec. at f/2.8.

If you missed the Homer IPTs announcement (there are two separate trips), or if you are thinking of attending, be sure to see the complete offering here.

Image #31: Bald Eagles: No Room on the Ice

More On Homer

For the first trip only, I am offering a $500/person discount for those who sign up with a friend or spouse. You can access the complete trip offering here.

IPT #1: FEB 25 through the full day on MAR 1, 2020. Six full days: $4799.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2.

IPT #2: MAR 3 through the full day on MAR 7, 2020. Five full days: $3999.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2.

Via e-mail from Multiple IPT veteran Greg Ferguson:

I attended this IPT in 2011 and can only say it was the most intensive bird photography I have ever experienced. My arms were tired and sore from shooting so many action photos. It is highly recommended! I called Jim today and signed up for a reprise. Greg

Via e-mail from Multiple IPT veteran Dick Curtain:

I attended the Homer IPT in the past and can only say it was a great experience. Many eagles, beautiful scenery, great instruction, and many fond memories. Don’t miss it.

IPT Updates

  • The Greatest-ever Bald Eagle Experience IPTs:
  • IPT #1: FEB 25 through the full day on MAR 1, 2020. Six full days: $4799.00 (Price reduced to $3999.00!). Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2.
  • IPT #2: MAR 3 through the full day on MAR 7, 2020. Five full days: $3999.00. Limit 5 photographers/Openings: 2
  • The 2020 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — MAR 19 thru the morning session 22 MAR 2020: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 4.
  • The GALAPAGOS Photo Cruise of a Lifetime IPT/The Complete Galapagos Archipelago Photographic Experience. August 17-31, 2021 on the boat. 13 FULL and two half-days of photography: $14,999.00. Limit: 12 photographers/Openings: 7.

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.

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 EOS-1DX, 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.

The Used Gear page has been very hot for the past month with the continuing price drops on both Canon and Nikon gear. And there have been some great buys on SONY stuff too. There are still lots of solid bargains right now on the Used Gear Page.

Recent Sales

BIRDS AS ART Used Gear Page Mega-hot!

IPT veteran Steve Leimberg sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II Lens in near-mint condition for a BAA Record-low $5400.00 (was $5,989.00) in mid-January 2020.
Regular Used Gear Page seller John Bowden traded in his Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens in excellent-plus condition to a local camera store in early January 2020 and kindly sent me a check for 4% of the original asking price of $598.00.
Jerry Barrack sold his Canon 400mm f/5.6L lens (my old “toy lens”) in very good plus condition with some scuff marks here and there for the BAA crazy record-low price of $549.00 sometime in December.
Jerry Barrack sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Digital Camera Body in near-mint condition for $1599.00 (was $1,999.00) and a Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens for Canon EF in mint condition for $300.00 (was $399.00) in mid-January 2020.
Multiple IPT veteran William Schneider sold his FE Sony 400mm f/2.8 GM OSS lens in mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $9,897.00 (was $10,697.00) in mid-January 2020.
Jerry Barrack sold his Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (zoom) lens in near-mint condition for the you-might-as-well-give-it-away-free price of $99.00 in mid-January 2020.
David Ramirez sold his Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II lens in excellent plus condition for the BAA record-low price of $5299.00 (was $5699.00) in early January.
Jerry Barrack sold a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Digital Camera Body in near-mint condition for $1399 (was listed at 1,999.00) in December 2019.
Ken Siegel sold his Sony a7r III in mint condition for only $1949.00 (was $2049.00) in early December 2019.
IPT veteran Joe Randle sold his Canon 500mm f4L IS USM Super Telephoto lens (the “old five”) in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $2499.00 in December 2019.
Multiple IPT veteran Jake Levin soold his Canon EOS 7D Mark II in excellent plus condition for $648.00. in December 2020.
IPT veteran Richard Russ sold his Nikon D850 dSLR in near-mint condition for the very low price of $1996.95 and a Nikon 500mm PF lens in near-mint condition for the very low price of $3,096.95 the first day they were listed on January 11, 2020.
Errol Bellon sold his Nikon 80-400 AFS Nikkor f/4.5-5.6 G ED N VR lens in mint condition for a BAA record-low $1096.95 (was $1396.95).
Jim Lewis sold his Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II lens in like-new condition for a very low $3,198.00, a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III (teleconverter) in like-new condition for only $223.00, a Canon Extender EF 1.4x III (teleconverter) in like-new condition for only $223.00, and a Fujinon XF100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 R LM OIS lens is in excellent condition for $899.00 all right after they were listed on December 21, 2019.
Multiple IPT veteran and good friend Monte Brown sold his used Gitzo GT3530 LSV Tripod in very good condition for the practically giving-it-away-for-free price of $200.00 less than an hour after it was listed on 1/18/20.
IPT veteran Dane Johnson is offering a Canon EOS-1D X in like-new condition (with a low shutter count of < 7,100) along with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens in mint condition for the crazy low price of only $2,399.00 (was 2,599.00), a Canon EF 400mm f/4 IS DO USM Lens in like-new condition for the BAA record-low price of $4,099.00, and a 4th Generation Design Mongoose M3.5 Mongoose Action Head in like-new condition for the crazy low price of only $249.00 all in mid-December. BPN friend Ravi Hirekatur sold his Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS lens (the original 1-4) in excellent condition for the BAA record-low price of $499.00 in late December 2019. Sensibly reducing the prices on the items that did not sell, multiple IPT veteran Jim Miller sold his rarely used Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens in near-mint condition for the new BAA record-low price of $399.00 (was $499.00), a Canon 580 EX II Speedlite in excellent condition for only $99.00 (was $199.00), a rarely-used, refurbished Canon Speedlite 430EX II (flash) in near-mint condition for $49.00 (was $99.00), a Canon Extender EF 1.4X II (teleconverter) in very good condition for $99.00 (was $169.00), and a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM L zoom lens in excellent condition for a BAA record-low $349.00 (was $449.00). All on the first day of the price reductions! By reducing the prices as I suggested Jim now has $1,000 dollars in his pocket rather than having those items collecting dust in his home ... BAA friend and multiple IPT veteran Paul Reinstein sold his Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in near-mint condition (shutter count 40,054) for the lowest-ever-by-a mile price of $1749.00 (was $1899.00). Joe Randle sold his Canon EF 24-70 f2.8L II USM lens in near-mint condition for the very low price of $899.00 in mid-January 2019. Multiple IPT veteran Jim Miller sold his rarely used Canon EOS 5DS R in near-mint condition for the BAA record-low price of $1599.00 (was $1799.00) in early January 2010. Multiple IPT veteran Larry Master sold his Sony a7r IV Mirrorless Digital camera body in absolutely like-new condition for only $2898.00 (was $3098.00) in early January 2020. Top pro-Jim Zuckerman sold his Sony Alpha a7R Mirrorless Digital camera in excellent condition for $1399 in Late-December 2019. Joe Randle sold his Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II Zoom Lens in excellent plus condition for $999.99 in early January 2020.

Sony A7r iii Mirrorless Camera Body

Bob Lester is offering a Sony A7r iii Mirrorless camera body in Very Good Plus condition (shutter count < 14,000) for only $1698.00. The sale includes the battery, the charger, the strap, the papers, the original product box, and insured ground shipping via major courier to lower-48 US addresses only. Photos are available upon request. Your item will not ship until your check clears unless other arrangements are made. Please contact Bob via e-mail or by phone at 1-503-780-6982 (Pacific time zone).

You’ve seen my great Galapagos images; I made tons of great stuff on the 2019 trip with the 7r III and the SONY 100-400 with and without the 1.4X TC. Simply put, the a7r iii is a great camera body. It sells new right now at B&H for $2498.00 and the newer a7r iv is going for $3,498.00! You can save a very cool $800.00 by grabbing Bob’s a7r iii 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 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.

i-Phone 8+ image

Long-billed Curlew Sunrise

The SONY 200-600 with the a9 ii Kills at Long-billed Curlew City (aka Morro Bay) Too!

At La Jolla, the best attribute of the 200-600 is its versatile zoom range. A Morro Bay, the most important attribute of the 200-600 is its light weight which allows you to hand hold while being extremely maneuverable; making good images of the curlews, Whimbrels, and godwits at Morro Bay requires you to move around constantly so that you are properly oriented to the light and are able to maintain correct subject-to-imaging sensor orientation.

This image was created on January 18, 2020 at Morro Bay, CA. I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (at 356mm) with the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 640. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:12am on a mostly sunny morning.

Center Zone Continuous/tracking (C) AF worked perfectly here.

Click to enlarge and enjoy the larger version.

Long-billed Curlew with wings raised

Something Extra …

Don’t get me wrong: well-done portraits of Long-billed Curlews just standing are nothing to sneeze at. Especially if they are made in sweet light in pleasing settings. I was able to create dozens and dozens of those. But for today’s blog post I choose to go with three images that have that something special, a bit of pizzazz that makes them pop. Long-billed Curlews have a habit of holding their wings up when they land. At those moments they are indeed spectacular.

This image was also created on January 18, 2020 at Morro Bay, CA. Again I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (this time at 600mm) with the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/500 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 7:56am on a then partly-cloudy morning.

Wide Continuous/tracking (C) AF worked perfectly here.

Click to enlarge and enjoy the larger version.

Long-billed Curlew ruffling

Ruffling

After preening, shorebirds will often tip forward and ruffle (shake out) their feathers to re-arrange them and get rid of the fluff they create when preening. In such situations, the 15 fps actual frame rate of the a9 ii pays huge dividends. This, the first frame of a 13-frame sequence, was my favorite by far.

This image was created on January 21, 2020 at Morro Bay, CA. Again I used the hand held Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS lens (again at 600mm) with the blazingly fast AF King, the Sony Alpha a9 II Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2000. Exposure determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/2000 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB at 9:15am on a then clear and sunny morning.

Upper Center Zone Continuous/tracking (C) AF worked perfectly here.

Click to enlarge and enjoy the larger version.

Long-billed Curlew in breaking wave

Sometimes You Just Know!

I made this one on our last morning at Morro Bay, the morning that I had the pleasure of meeting and hanging with Jon Pearson. I was really on the move that morning as it was only the second time that we saw the sun at Morro. And the first time was for five whole minutes. I am always moving around more at the beach when it is sunny as I attempt to stay right on sun angle especially when there are multiple subjects. The trick is to decide almost instantly which bird offers the best potential and then go for that one. In this case, I made the right choice!

This bird was foraging for sand crabs when a big wave broke and he stood upright as if to keep from being swept away. As the white water rushed past him I fired off about 15 frames; I was 100% sure that I had come up with something really good. The best news? All of them were eye-skin-crisp and I had a hard time picking the best of the keepers.

From left to right clockwise back to the center: Brown Pelican, Roseate Spoonbill downstroke, Brown Pelican sunrise silhouette, Double-crested Cormorant pre-dawn blur, Roseate Spoonbill flapping after bath, Brown Pelican taking flight, Roseate Spoonbill taking flight, Reddish Egret white morph breeding plumage in flight, and Reddish Egret dark morph breeding plumage in flight.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks on the 2018 trip.

You can click on each card to enjoy a larger version.

2020 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT — MAR 19 thru the morning session 22 MAR 2020: $2599.00. Limit: 5 photographers/Openings: 4.

3 1/2 days on the boat including four morning photo sessions and three afternoon sessions via customized pontoon boat.

Price per day Reduced from the 2018 rates! Please e-mail for details on IPT veteran and couples’ discounts. Pro-rated options may be available …

We will be leaving the dock very early for the morning sessions (weather permitting) in hopes of photographing pre-dawn fly-outs and blast-offs. All sessions are planned for the Alafia Banks Roseate Spoonbill Rookery. We might consider other options in the unlikely event of horrific weather. There will be lots of opportunities for flight photography of several species including and especially Roseate Spoonbill. Also likely for flight photography are nesting Brown Pelican, both morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, White and Glossy Ibises, and Double-crested Cormorant. We should have some good chances with birds carrying nesting material. This IPT includes all boat and guide fees, in the field instruction, chest waders (feel free to bring your own of course to assure a perfect fit), and three working lunches on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. For the most part, we will be standing in mid-calf to knee-high water behind our tripods. We help you get in and out of the boat with your gear. This is likely not the best trip for folks with mobility or balance problems. Note however that some folks opt to stay on the boat to photograph. They usually have lots of chances for flight photography of spoonbills and other species but are almost always pretty far away from the spoonbills that land.

All images on this card were created by me on the Hooptie Deux at Alafia Banks

The Timing and Tides are Perfect!

I recently saw a similar trip advertised two months too late for breeding plumaged spoonbills … The 2020 Hooptie Deux/Roseate Spoonbill Boat 3 1/2 DAY IPT represents an incredible opportunity to photograph Florida’s most wanted species. I do hope that you can join us. There will be a meet and greet at 7:00pm sharp on the evening of WED 18 MAR, 2020. All of the images on the cards were made on the Hooptie Deux from late-February through March, prime time for the spoonies in mega-breeding plumage. Many folks have written expressing interest so please do not tarry.

Please e-mail to hold your spot. Then you may either secure your spot by calling Jim or Jennifer at the office at 863-692-0906 and leaving the $500 deposit on a credit card or sending your check for payment in full to us as follows with the check made out to:

BIRDS AS ART and sent here via US mail:

BIRDS AS ART
PO BOX 7245
Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855

If you call to leave your deposit, you will be asked to mail your check for the balance.


hooptie-card-shadle-aa

Images courtesy of our guide; copyright 2017 Captain James Shadle (aka Froggie). All of the images here were created at Alafia Banks. Card creation and design by Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART.

Everybody Loves Spoonbills!

Roseate Spoonbill is one of if not the most sought after avian photographic subjects in Florida. They are generally hard to find and somewhat difficult to approach. They are relatively easy to find at Alafia Banks—heck, you can’t miss seeing them, but even there they can on some days be somewhat difficult to approach. On some days we may be able to get ridiculously close to them. The huge incentive to get out to Alafia Banks in mid-February is the chance to photograph this species at the height of its spectacular breeding plumage…. with long telephoto lenses. A 500 or 600 with a 1.4X TC is perfect for this trip.

Mornings to Alafia Banks for spoonbills and Brown Pelicans (with lots of flight photography often with the birds likely carrying nesting material), Double-crested Cormorants, ibises (both Glossy and White) in breeding plumage. Some of the White Ibises may be sporting their spectacular, distended, red, naked (un-feathered) throat pouches—typically larger in the females. In addition, we may get to photograph egrets including Great and Reddish, both in full breeding plumage, shorebirds, and more. There will be lots of flight photography opportunities. Afternoon trips will most likely be back to Alafia Banks for the spoonbills with an option to visit a more sheltered inland rookery location for a variety of nesting birds. In the event of horrific weather, artie will either take the group to Fort DeSoto or will conduct an extensive image review/Photoshop session. This IPT includes lunches on the full days with small group image sharing and review and some over-the-shoulder Photoshop instruction.

The SONY Zebras Exposure Guide Short Video

If you own a high-end SONY camera body, there is absolutely no reason that you should not be getting a perfect or near-perfect exposure every time with every image even in the most difficult situations — white birds, dark backgrounds, dark birds against white skies, simply pick your shutter speed and aperture and then adjust the ISO on the Control Wheel until you see faint Zebras. It’s that simple. Learn how in the SONY Zebras Exposure Guide Short Video. To order your copy, please send a Paypal to us at birdsasart@verizon.net for $30. Please state in the Paypal that the payment is for the SONY Zebras Exposure Guide Short Video.

Alternatively, you can place a phone order for the SONY Zebras Exposure Guide by calling Jim at 863-692-0906 MON to THURS and most FRI mornings.

Folks who have purchased a SONY lens and/or a SONY body using either my B&H affiliate links or from Steve Elkins at Bedfords will enjoy a $20 discount. If you qualify, please shoot me an e-mail so that I can confirm your discount.

Folks who have purchased the SONY 600mm f/4 GM lens using my links will receive the file for free. If you qualify for a free copy, please shoot me an e-mail so that I can confirm your discount.

After I confirm your discount, you can either call Jim or send us a Paypal (as above).

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 will be visiting the New BIRDS AS ART Online Store as well.

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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 :).