Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
April 13th, 2021

Marbled Godwit Swimming in Heaven. The Plusses and Minuses of Using the Rear Screen for Ground Level Shots

A Tough Question

If you had to delete one of today’s two featured images, each admittedly superb, which one would you put in the trash? Why? Comparing the strengths and weaknesses (if any) of each image might reveal the answer. Or not. One thing is for sure, comparing the merits of these two images will be a challenge that gets you thinking.

What’s Up?

Monte Brown joined John Johnson and me on Monday morning at Fort DeSoto. Again, the weather forecast was way off, much to our benefit. The original forecast was for clear skies with northwest winds — death for bird photography. Then it changed to light rain with northwest winds — not too good for bird photography. What we got was cloudy followed by intermittent clearing with west/southwest winds. That turned out to be pretty darned good for bird photography! We had an absolutely fantastic morning.

You will be seeing lots more images from that session here fairly soon, along with the tales behind them. I am head-over-heels in love with both of today’s featured images.

On Monday afternoon, we ended the IPT a day early and drove over to ILE for a pool-deck, rib-eye steaks on the grill, big salad dinner and some more fine wine.

Today is Tuesday 13 April 2021. The three of us will be heading over to Stick Marsh early. The forecast if for perfectly clear skies with little to no wind. The three of us are very excited. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took about a ninety minutes to prepare and makes 111 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember to use my B&H affiliate links or to save money at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Camera User’s Guide Note

If you should have but did not receive a link to the final versions of the SONY Camera User’s e-guide or the link to the final version of the BAA R5 Camera User’s e-guide, please let us know via e-mail.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times โ€” I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) โ€” remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) 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 12 April 2021 on the first DeSoto IPT. I used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens (with the lens foot resting on the ground) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2500. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/500 sec. at f/4.5 (stopped down 1/3-stop; should have been wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:36:56am on a still, cloudy morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #1: Marbled Godwit foraging while swimming

Enthralled With the Super-low Perspectives …

I have always loved getting down and dirty and flat on my stomach photographing shorebirds. With age, getting down is not too bad; getting up is a bit harder. Arching ones back is a problem for some including me. For today’s two featured images, created while I was seated on the wet sand, I placed the lens foot on the ground and tilted out the rear screen. This afforded me the super-low perspective that I love so dearly. Without have to lie down in the wet sand.

This image was created on 12 April 2021 on the first DeSoto IPT. I used the Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens (with the lens foot resting on the ground) and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 2500. Exposure determined via Zebras with ISO on the rear dial: 1/500 sec. at f/4.5 (stopped down 1/3-stop; should have been wide open) in Manual mode. AWB at 7:36:58am on a still, cloudy morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Image #2: Marbled Godwit swimming

The Plusses and Minuses of Using the Rear Screen at Ground Level …

The Plusses

  • 1- The super-low perspective produces creamy/dreamy backgrounds (especially at f/4!)
  • 2- Photographs created at the subject’s eye level are decidedly more intimate than images made from higher perspectives.

The Minuses

  • 1- Even with the level on the rear screen active and your reading glasses on (mine were safely in the car when I made this image), it is a challenge for most folks to level the image. And when you are panning along with a moving subject, keeping the image level even more of a challenge. Next time I will bring my Panning Ground Pod.
  • 2- Without having your eye to the viewfinder, you are working somewhat blind. It is difficult to determine the subject-to-sensor-plane orientation and even more difficult to note the head angle.
  • 3- Simply finding the subject is far more difficult than it is when working through the viewfinder, and once you find the bird with your long lens, framing it properly can be a huge challenge. Both of today’s images needed small crops for the rear (and from above and/or below), to move the bird back a bit in the frame.
  • 4-Again, without your eye to the viewfinder, you must have complete faith in your camera body’s AF system. If it does not perform, all of your effort will be for naught. Note: when looking through the viewfinder, you can see the AF point or points at work … That is not the case when using the rear screen.
  • 5- You will get sand on your lens, the lens foot, the lens hood, and on you camera body. (The same would be true if you were lying prone, flat on your belly, looking through the viewfinder …) That is why you always have a soft paintbrush with you in the field.

So what is the solution? Do your best and make lots of images; the shotgun approach can yield amazingly beautiful dividends (as it did in this situation). And the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera’s 30 frames per second Drive Mode is a huge plus in pretty much all situations where the subject is moving.

Note: though there were two godwits swimming along, I am sure — based on some distinctive plumage markings — that the bird in both images is the same individual.

Image #2A: AF Point for one of the Marbled Godwit swimming images

What Can I Say?

My faith in the AF system (set up properly as detailed in the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group e-Mail #1), was completely justified as it nailed the focus in every frame of the 76-image sequence.

Sony Alpha a1 AF Magic …

The AF system of the a1 — set up as detailed in e-mails to the Sony Alpha a1 Info & Updates group, continues to amaze me. Early on, there was lots of discussion within the group with many preferring multiple back button approaches. For me a simple shutter button approach with the right AF settings that yield 99% sharp-on-the-eye images is best. By far. It is super-simple and mega-effective. Note: info on the program that I use to ascertain SONY AF point information is detailed in one of the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group e-mails. I plan on making that information available here soon for all SONY camera users. You guessed it; I am working on a guide. ๐Ÿ™‚

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based advice. We are now up to an astounding 35 folks. Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to birdsasart@verizon.net indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, they can call Jim weekday afternoons at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.

The Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Though a bit long in the tooth (like me), the Fort DeSoto Site Guide will get you to my two favorite morning spots. John Johnson and I killed at DeSoto for three straight mornings.

Typos

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

April 12th, 2021

An Aqua Square. And Loving My SONY Alpha a1!

What’s Up?

Thanks to the very few folks who commented on their favorites in the last two blog posts. They included Michael Shaw, Elinor Osborne, James Saxon, David Policansky, and Paul Campbell. And not a single person commented on the Willet video. You gotta love it!

The forecast for Sunday morning was dire; there was a 76% chance of severe thunderstorms in St. Pete. John Johnson and I headed to Desoto under clear skies. With the wind from the southwest and the sun rising in the southeast and then moving to the south, we had the birds 90 degrees to the light. That is very good for bird photography, unlike clear skies and NW winds in the morning … We enjoyed 90 minutes of lovely light until some thin clouds moved in. The cloudy-bright conditions were fabulous. All in all we had our second straight great morning session.

Then Armageddon arrived. With a vengeance. The house shook, lightning struck, and the streets flooded. As did the campground at Fort DeSoto; good friend Monte Brown — visiting from Indiana — was unable to get his fifth-wheel trailer into his spot for several hours.

With pouring rain all afternoon and 5G internet in our AirBnB, I got a ton of work done. I sent out a link to the SONY Camera User’s e-guide to all who earned or purchased it. And I sent out the final version of the BAA R5 Camera User’s e-guide, again, to all who earned or purchased it. Jim will be sending out the last of the R5 guides on Monday. If you should have received a link to your updated Camera User’s Guide and did not, please let me know via e-mail.

John and I stayed in and napped and worked on images.

Today is Monday 12 April 2021. I just finished sending out the eighth SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group e-mail and the fourth Stick Marsh Site Guide e-mail. The forecast for the morning is for partly-cloudy skies with drizzle early then clearing with a light wind from the northwest. It will likely be a challenging morning. But I have a plan. Monte will be joining us. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took more than an hour to prepare and makes 110 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember to use my B&H affiliate links or to save money at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times โ€” I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) โ€” remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) 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 11 April on the Fort DeSoto #1 IPT. I used the Induro GIT 304L/Levered-clamp FlexShooter Pro-mounted Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens, the Sony FE 2.0x Teleconverter, and The One, the Sony Alpha 1 Mirrorless digital camera. ISO 800. The exposure was determined by Zebras with ISO on the rear wheel: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 (stopped down 1/3-stop) in Manual mode. AWB at 9:54am on a cloudy-bright morning.

Wide/AF-C was active at the moment of exposure and performed pretty close to perfection (see below) by tracking the bird’s eye.

Image #1: Adult Laughing Gull in breeding plumage preening a neck feather

An Aqua Square

The background color here is an accurate representation of the color of the water in the Gulf of Mexico on a cloudy- bright day. I raised the tripod a bit while seated as the near-shore water appears more aqua than it does in the distance. This one is another example of my new-acceptance of perfect square crops as perfect for some images. Photoshop tip: select 1:1 (Square) from the dropdown Crop menu.

Image #1A: AF Points for the Adult Laughing Gull in breeding plumage preening a neck feather image

Close Enough to Perfect!

With your Sony Alpha a1 set up correctly, the AF system is science-fiction-like, even at 1200mm. As always, no matter how amazing the AF performance, it is up to the operator to correctly frame the image …

Sony Alpha a1 AF Magic …

The AF system of the a1 — set up as detailed in e-mails to the Sony Alpha a1 Info & Updates group, continues to amaze me. Early on, there was lots of discussion within the group with many preferring multiple back button approaches. For me a simple shutter button approach with the right AF settings that yield 99% sharp-on-the-eye images is best. By far. It is super-simple and mega-effective. Note: info on the program that I use to ascertain SONY AF point information is detailed in one of the SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group e-mails. I plan on making that information available here soon for all SONY camera users. You guessed it, I am working on a guide. ๐Ÿ™‚

SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group

The SONY Alpha a1 Set-up and Info Group is going great guns as folks chime in with thoughtful questions and experience-based advice. We are now up to an astounding 35 folks. Early on, we discussed the myriad AF options. I gave my opinion as to the best one for flight and general bird photography. More recently, we have been in contact with folks at SONY sharing our thoughts, experiences, and frustrations with the EVF blackout problem.

All who purchased their Alpha a1 bodies via a BAA affiliate link will receive a free subscription to the Sony Alpha a1 Set-Up and Info Updates after shooting me their receipts via e-mail. This same service may be purchased by anyone with an a1 body via a $150.00 PayPal sent to birdsasart@verizon.net indicating payment for Alpha a1 Info Updates. Alternatively, they can call Jim weekday afternoons at 1-863-692-0906 to pay via credit card. New members will receive composite e-mails that summarize all previous discussions.

Image #1B: RawDigger screen capture for the Adult Laughing Gull in breeding plumage preening a neck feather image

RawDigger and Specular Highlights

When you see clipping in all three channels (at the 16000 line), most would assume that this image is hopelessly and irrecoverably over-exposed. Not so fast … Though there are a total of 2078 over-exposed pixels, those are out of 51,000,000 and thus account for 0% OvExp pixels. Furthermore, a look at the enlarged image of the bill we see that all of the OvExp pixels are in the specular highlights on the bird’s (wet) bill. If you tried to eliminate those, the image would be mega-under-exposed. In short, the exposure for today’s featured image is 100% der solid perfect. All of the above is detailed at length in the RawDigger guide and in the included Adapted Histogram video.

RawDigger — not for the faint of heart …

Nothing has ever helped me learn to create perfect exposures to the degree that RawDigger has. I think that many folks are reluctant to learn that most of their images are underexposed by one or more full stops and that highlight warnings in Photoshop, Lightroom, Capture One, and your in-camera histogram are bogus as they are based on the embedded JPEGs. Only your raw files tell the truth all the time. Heck, I resisted RawDigger for several years … Once you get over that feeling, RawDigger can become your very best exposure friend no matter what system you are using. On the recent IPTs and In-the-Field sessions, we have demonstrated that fact. Convincingly.

All of the images were created at Fort DeSoto in April or early May. Click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto IPT card A

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT #2

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT #2. 3 1/2 DAYS. MON 26 APR thru the morning session on THURS 29 APR 2021. $1499 includes three lunches. Limit: 6. Openings: 5.

Not only am I conversant in all three major camera systems used in the US — Nikon, Canon, and SONY (sorry Andy Rouse …), I have used all three within the past four years. Those include both SONY and Canon mirrorless. On both of these IPTs you will learn how to get the best exposure, how to get the most out of your AF system, and how to get close to free and wild birds. And tons more.

All of the images were created at Fort DeSoto in April or early May. Click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto IPT card B

A $499 deposit is required to hold your spot for this IPT. You can send a check (made out to “BIRDS AS ART) to us here: BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855, or call Jim or Jennifer at the office with a credit card at 863-692-0906. Your balance, payable only by check, is due immediately after you sign up. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail. If you cancel due to COVID 19 concerns, all of your payments will be refunded.

All of the images were created at Fort DeSoto in April or early May. Click on the card to enjoy a larger version.

Fort DeSoto IPT card C

Fort DeSoto Spring IPTs Expected Species

With any luck, we should get to photograph the following species: Laughing, Ring-billed, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed Gull; Royal, Sandwich, and Forster’s Tern: Great, Snowy, and white and dark morph Reddish Egret and Great Blue, Little Blue, and Tricolored Heron; Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, and Brown Pelican. We will see and photograph lots of shorebirds including American Oystercatcher, Black-bellied, Wilson’s, Semipalmated, Snowy, and Piping Plover, Marbled Godwit, Willet, Dunlin, Red Knot, Sanderling, and Western and possibly White-rumped Sandpiper.

Typos

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

April 11th, 2021

BTHS Grad with R5/RF 100-500 Kicks Ass at Stick Marsh. With a Vengeance. And Magically Wide Enough!

What’s Up?

With the doom and gloom reports of no birds at DeSoto, John Johnson and I had an absolutely killer morning with gorgeous light, spectacularly beautiful Laughing Gulls in full breeding plumage, and a silly-tame flock of Red Knots. Curious as to how I would edit the morning’s 2433 image folder, I did that with John sitting next to me while recording the session with Camtasia. There is a ton to learn not only about editing so many images quickly, but about natural history and Photoshop, all the while seeing what makes one image better than 10 similars. Or not! The video should be available for sale in a day or three. We worked on several images in Photoshop including John’s two featured Stick Marsh images below.

At about 5:00pm, we headed back to the park to be greeted by a sky full of big black clouds and a big thunderstorm that dropped the temperature about 20 degrees in two minutes. We headed back home early in one long line of traffic.

Today is Sunday 11 April 2021. The forecast is for Armageddon: rain and thunderstorms all day. Time will tell. Wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, I hope that you have a great day.

This blog post took more than an hour to prepare and makes 109 consecutive days with a new one. Please remember to use my B&H affiliate links or to save money at Bedfords by using the BIRDSASART discount code at checkout. Doing either often earns you free guides or discounts. And doing so always earns my great appreciation.

Please Remember

With income from IPTs now at zero, please, if you enjoy and learn from the blog, remember to use one of my two affiliate programs when purchasing new gear. Doing so just might make it possible for me to avoid having to try to get a job as a Walmart greeter and will not cost you a single penny more. And if you use Bedfords and remember to enter the BIRDSASART code at checkout, you will save 3% on every order and enjoy free second-day air shipping. In these crazy times โ€” I am out at least forty to sixty thousand dollars so far due to COVID 19 (with lots more to come) โ€” remembering to use my B&H link or to shop at Bedfords will help me out a ton and be greatly appreciated. Overseas folks who cannot order from the US because of import fees, duties, and taxes, are invited to help out by clicking here to leave a blog thank you gift if they see fit.

New and Better Bedfords Discount Policy!

You can now save 3% on all of your Bedfords photo gear purchases by entering the BIRDSASART coupon code at checkout. Your discount will be applied to your pre-tax total. In addition, by using the code you will get 2nd day air shipping via Fed Ex.

Grab a Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III and save $14.99. Purchase a Canon EOS R5 and your discount will be $116.97. Purchase a Sony FE 600mm f/4 GM OSS lens and save a remarkable $389.94! Your Bedford’s purchase no longer needs to be greater than $1,000.00 for you to receive a discount. The more you spend, the more you save.

Money Saving Reminder

Many have learned that if you need a hot photo item that is out of stock at B&H and would enjoy free second-day air shipping, your best bet is to click here, place an order with Bedfords, and enter the coupon code BIRDSASART at checkout. If an item is out of stock, contact Steve Elkins via e-mail or on his cell phone at (479) 381-2592 (Central time). Be sure to mention the BIRDSASART coupon code and use it for your online order to save 3% and enjoy free 2nd-day air shipping. Steve has been great at getting folks the hot items that are out of stock at B&H and everywhere else. The wait lists at the big stores can be a year or longer for the hard to get items. Steve will surely get you your gear long before that. For the past year, he has been helping BAA Blog folks get their hands on items like the SONY a9 ii, the SONY 200-600 G OSS lens, the Canon EOS R5, the Canon RF 100-500mm lens, and the Nikon 500mm PF. Steve is personable, helpful, and eager to please.



Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs (remember those?) 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 by multiple IPT veteran John Johnson on 9 April 2021 at Stick Marsh during an In-the-Field Session. He used the hand held Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens (at 324mm) and the highly touted 45MP Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 800. Exposure determined via test image and blinkies evaluation: 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1 (wide open) in Manual (M) mode. AWB at 7:53am on a sunny morning.

Zone AI Servo AF (as detailed in the R5 e-Guide) was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: John Johnson
Image #1: Roseate Spoonbill braking to land

BTHS Grad with R5/RF 100-500 Kicks Ass at Stick Marsh

Like me, John Johnson, graduated Brooklyn Technical High School, he, several years ahead of me. John has been to Finland and the Galapagos with me, and on several North American IPTs as well. When he saw what was going on at Stick Marsh, he asked if we could do a morning there before the first DeSoto IPT. That worked out well and we enjoyed a morning of splendid weather with lots of incoming spoonies. The first thing that we did when he got to my home the evening before was to check that his R5 AF settings were correct (as per the R5 guide).

John, whose career was as a recruiter/head hunter in Cleveland, OH, has been married to his second-wife Jinny, for thirty-two years. They winter in Naples, FL. John has been photographing seriously for about two decades. His favorite genres are wildlife, travel, and his granddaughters’ sports teams.

Cover Image courtesy of and Copyright 2021 Brian Sump (Sump scores!)

The BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide

The BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide: $75.00

The guide is 82 pages long: 21,458 words. More than 50 DPP 4 Autofocus-depicting screen captures. And a 31 minute 44 second educational video. This guide took three and a half months of hard work and a ton of help from at least seventeen very helpful and generous folks.

The guide covers — in great detail — all Menu Items that are relevant to bird, nature, and wildlife photography. It does not cover video. The section on AF methods and the AF Gallery has been expanded from the R5/R6 AF e-guide. It remains the one of the great strengths of this guide. I share my thoughts on what I am sure is the single best AF Method for photographing birds in flight. As most of you know, the guide includes a simple and easy way to change AF Methods that was introduced to me by Geoff Newhouse. In the AF Gallery you will see exactly how Face Detection plus Tracking AF works. In the Educational R5 Gallery video, I share my favorite R5 images along with dozens of bird photography tips and techniques.

In addition, I teach you how to get the best exposures with your R5. Detailed instructions on using the great In-camera HDR and Multiple Exposure features will be appreciated by creative folks who like to have fun. The three shutter modes are explained in detail as well. Bruce Dudek solved the can’t-get-to-Auto ISO problem that had stumped everyone at Canon. This information is of course shared in the guide. You will learn how to set up your EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) and Screen toggle options. Not to mention that the mysterious performance of the Q Button is revealed and simplified. Brian Sump’s images reveal how well you can do when using the R5 with EF lenses using one of the three Canon EF-EOS R Mount Adapters (as Donna did with Image #1 below). You will learn how I use Customize Dials to put either ISO or EC on the Thumb Dial and how to set up and save Custom Shooting Modes (C1-C3) that can remember both your Customize Dial and Customize Button settings! That is something that none of the SONY bodies do. ๐Ÿ™ Near the end of the guide I share my all-important MY MENU items with you.

Like all BAA educational materials, the R5 guide is written in my informal, easy-to-follow style. I am quite proud of this guide and look forward to hearing your thoughts on our hard work.

You can purchase your copy of the BIRDS AS ART Canon EOS R5 Camera User’s e-Guide for $75.00 here in the BAA Online Store or by calling Jim in the office weekday afternoons at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

This image was also created by multiple IPT veteran John Johnson on 9 April 2021 at Stick Marsh during an In-the-Field Session. He used the hand held Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM lens (at 186mm) and the highly touted 45MP Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital camera body. ISO 2500. Exposure determined via test image and blinkies evaluation: 1/2000 sec. at f/7.1 in Manual (M) mode. AWB at 7:34am on a sunny morning.

Zone AI Servo AF (as detailed in the R5 e-Guide) was active at the moment of exposure and performed perfectly. Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: John Johnson
Image #2: Roseate Spoonbills: Fourth Hand for Bridge?

Magically Wide Enough!

When I saw John’s original version of this image, I was astounded. Three birds, each holding onto the same long stick, with three perfect head angles, and all three positioned perfectly in the frame. Without cutting off the legs of the trio! Are you kidding me? As both of John’s images were processed on the bright side for my taste, I re-processed each of them on Saturday evening.

Note: the shadow in the center of frame was that of a carelessly standing photographer. In a perfect world, folks would notice where their shadows are falling and if need be, move or get lower …

Image courtesy of and copyright 2021: John Johnson
Image #2: The original for the Roseate Spoonbills: Fourth Hand for Bridge? image

High-Stepping in Photoshop

As with many unique behavioral images, this one required a bit of work in Photoshop to maximize the impact. After converting the image in Capture One:

1- Level by eye: 1 degree clockwise.
2- Crop and Topaz DeNoise AI on a layer.
3- Extensive background clean-up including debris, spoonbill reflections, and telephone pole reflection.
4- Rock wall removal.
5- Foreground grass clean-up.

I am especially proud of the work that I did in the lower left corner leaving the tiny plant that had intersected the reflection of the telephone pole. That with a Quick Mask refined by a Regular Layer Mask.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II).

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a PayPal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand. Be sure to specify Digital Basics II.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II)

The clean-up techniques mentioned above and tons more great Photoshop tips and techniques (with the exception of Capture One RAW Conversions) — along with all of my personalized Keyboard Shortcuts — are covered in detail in the BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here. While the new e-Guide reflects my MacBook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow, folks using a PC and/or BreezeBrowser will also benefit greatly by studying the material on DB II. Note: folks working on a PC and/or those who do not want to miss anything Photoshop may wish to purchase the original Digital Basics along with DB II while saving $15 by clicking here to buy the DB Bundle.

Folks who learn well by following along rather than by reading can check out the complete collection of MP 4 Photoshop Tutorial Videos by clicking here. Note: all of the videos are now priced at an amazingly low $5.00 each.

You can learn how and why I converted all of my Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 in the DPP 4 RAW Conversion Guide here. More recently, I became proficient at converting my Nikon RAW (NEF) files in Adobe Camera Raw. About two years ago I began converting my Nikon and Sony RAW files in Capture One Pro 12 and continue to do so today.

To purchase Capture One, please use this link. Then you can learn more about Capture One in the Capture One Pro 12 Simplified MP4 Video here. The next step would be to get a copy of Arash Hazeghi’s “The Nikon Photographersโ€™ Guide to Phase One Capture One Pro e-Guide” in the blog post here.

You can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and edited by yours truly. Please use this link to purchase NeatImage.

Typos

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