Flash On the Farm « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Flash On the Farm


While you are reading this I am spending Saturday at Gatorland with a group of 5 eager-to-learn photographers. This post marks 127 straight days with a new educational blog post. With so many folks getting in the habit of using our B&H and Amazon links, why quit now? To show your appreciation for my efforts here, we do ask that you use our the B&H and Amazon affiliate links on the right side of the blog for all of your purchases. Please check the availability of all photographic accessories in the BIRDS AS ART Online Store. We sell only what I use and depend on. We will not sell you junk. We know what you need to make creating great images easy and fun. And we are always glad to answer your gear questions via e-mail.

You can find the following items in the store: Gitzo tripods, Mongoose M3.6 and Wimberley heads, plates, low feet, and accessories, flash brackets, , Delkin e-film Pro Compact Flash Cards, LensCoat products, and our unique line-up of educational materials including ABP I & II, Digital Basics, Site and Set-up e-Guides, Canon and Nikon Camera Users and AF e-Guides, and MP-4 Photoshop video tutorials among others.

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 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 visiting the BAA Online store as well.

This blog post took about 1 1/2 hours to put together. Of 7 years if you are counting…. Enjoy!

It’s Not Too Late!

Gatorland Sunday Morning In-the-Field Workshop

7:15am till 10:45 photo session. Lunch, image review, and Photoshop session included: $299.

The cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s Pass is not included.

Only a check in hand or cash on the barrel head will work for Sunday morning. Please e-mail if you would like to join us. Optionally you can call my cell at noon on Saturday: 863-221-2372. Right now there are two in the group.

You can learn more about the Gatorland In-the-Field Workshops by scrolling down here.


This image was created at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at 8:21am on May 21, 2007 with the Gitzo 3532 LS carbon fiber tripod, the Mongoose M3.6 head, the Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens (now replaced by the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens and the EOS-1Ds Mark II–I used and loved that camera for several years) now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop as framed: 1/250 sec. at f/7.1 in Av mode. AWB.

Fill flash with Better Beamer at -? stops in ETTL. With an older Canon Speedlight now replaced by the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT with the Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack for faster re-charging times. Mongoose Integrated Flash Arm with the Canon OC-E3 Off Camera Shoe Cord 3.

Central sensor/Rear Focus AI Servo AF on the female’s face active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Where Was My 200-400 with Internal Extender?

When working on a boardwalk or in other tight situations zoom lenses like the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Lens with Internal 1.4x Extender or the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM ens, the latter usually with a Canon Extender EF 1.4X III in place are almost always more effective than fixed focal length lenses.

Though I had stepped away from the birds and had my back against the boardwalk railing I was still too tight. I would have loved a bit more room above the male bird. Imagine if I’d had the new 200-400 on the tripod for the image of the copulating Cattle Egrets above…. I would have been able to zoom out just a bit. I doubt that I would have gone wide enough to include all of the spread wings but having a bit more room above would have–as noted above–been ideal… Alas, the new 2-4 was not even a dream in 2007.


This image was created at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at 5:20pm on May 117, 2007 with the hand held Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS USM lens and the EOS-1Ds Mark II now replaced by the Canon EOS-1D X. ISO 500. Evaluative metering 2 stops off the white sky: 1/1000 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

On-camera High Speed Sync flash with the Better Beamer probably at 0 in ETTL. With an older Canon Speedlight now replaced by the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT with the Canon CP-E4 Compact Battery Pack for faster re-charging times.

Central sensor/Rear Focus AI Servo AF on the bird’s neck active at the moment of exposure. Click here to see the latest version of the Rear Focus Tutorial. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Flash Flight

While Gatorland can be good for flight both in the morning and the late afternoon, St. Augustine can be very good for flight in the morning and superb for flight in the late afternoon. On most early evenings the opportunities for creating flash flight images are simply outstanding. Learning flash flight techniques is actually easy, and I love the high key look, preferring it in fact to the look of flight images created on sunny days.


All of the images created at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and copyright Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

From top left clockwise to center: Snowy Egret pair in breeding plumage, breeding plumage Cattle Egret with fill flash, large Great Egret chicks in the nest, killer breeding plumage Snowy Egret displaying, flash-as-main light Great Egret chick happy to see mom, Little Blue Heron chicks, Cattle Egret breeding plumage head portrait, flash flight Wood Stork with nesting material, Great Egret landing at the nest, large Snowy Egret chicks.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger version.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Short-Notice IPT. 3-FULL DAYS. Early entry/Late stay. May 5-7, 2014. Meet and greet at 8pm on Sunday May 4: $1299. Two Great Leaders: Arthur Morris and Denise Ippolito

This trip needs four to run; one down, four to go.

Breeding herons, egrets, and Wood Storks. Eggs and chicks in the nest. Some fledged young possible. Breeding behaviors including displaying and copulations. Flight and flash flight. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Cattle Egret, Tricolored Heron, Wood Stork. Early May rocks at the Farm as the weather is usually gorgeous and there should be lots of both small and large chicks in the nest. And you avoid the possibly oppressive heat of June and July.

Includes in-the-field instruction, early entry, late stay, $5/person late-stay gratuity, informal, small group Photoshop and image review sessions. Three lunches.

Not included: your lodging, your St. Augustine Alligator Farm photographer’s pass ($79.95 for the year); we will be more than glad to pre-order your pass for you. Please let us know when you register.

What you will learn:

How to see the good situations.
How to best avoid the clutter of a rookery by choosing the very best perspective.
How to properly evaluate the histogram and come up with the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure
How to see and understand the light.
How to to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system.
Why you must work in Manual mode 95% of the time when photographing at a rookery and how to do it.
How to evaluate and process your images.
Via intensive instruction how to use fill flash flash as main light, and Manual flash.
Flash flight techniques including the necessary use of high speed sync.
And tons more.

Please call Jim or Jen at 863-692-0906 to hold your spot with your non-refundable $299 credit card deposit and then put your check in the mail along with your signed registration form; you can find the form here.

Suitable airports: Jacksonville (JAX), Daytona Beach (DAB), Orlando MCO).

We look forward to seeing you in the nation’s oldest city for three days of fun and learning.

Note: Folks interested in possibly continuing on to Fort DeSoto–great in spring, are invited to shoot me an e-mail.

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1 comment to Flash On the Farm

  • We just found you on YouTube this evening and thoroughly enchanted! There’s so much to learn.
    I love birds! I have a new Canon Reble T3ii, but up to now I was using a Pentex D200k. It’s 1am m now, so will get back to you with a couple favorite shots and questions.
    Thank you for teaching,