Everything Came Together … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Everything Came Together ...


By Sunday morning, my Think Tank rolling bag was packed with the photo gear I will be taking on the Japan trip. On Sunday, I packed one of my two checked bags, mostly with the cold weather stuff, boots, and heavy clothing: 49 3/4 lbs. I will be sharing the cold weather choices I made with you in a blog post after I get back. I sure hope those heated gloves work 🙂

I did my walk, my swim, and all of my exercises 🙂

Gear Questions and Advice

Too many folks attending BAA IPTs and dozens of folks 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.

The Streak: 451

Today’s blog post marks a totally insane, irrational, illogical, preposterous, absurd, completely ridiculous, unfathomable, silly, incomprehensible, what’s wrong with this guy?, makes-no-sense, 451 days in a row with a new educational blog post. As always–and folks have been doing a really great for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major gear purchases. For best results use one of our many product-specific links; after clicking on one of those you can continue shopping with all subsequent purchases invisibly tracked to BAA. Your doing so is always greatly appreciated. Please remember: web orders only. And please remember also that if you are shopping for items that we carry in the BAA Online Store (as noted in red at the close of this post below) we would of course appreciate your business.

This image was created at Fort DeSoto in the spring of 2016 with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 400mm) with the rugged, blazingly fast Canon EOS-1D X Mark II. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 2/3 stops: 1/800 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

Center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF. The selected AF point was barely caught the edge of the lower neck; the four assist points and my Custom AF settings surely helped maintain focus. Click on the image to see a larger version.

FocusTune/LensAlign Micro Adjustment: 0.

Snowy Egret with greenback

Everything Came Together …

Today’s featured image is a seemingly simple one. A bird with a fresh-caught fish walking out of the surf. But on a closer look, most everything is close to perfect:

  • The bird is perfectly square to the back of the camera. I saw the direction the bird was moving, quickly got ahead of it, and began making images as it came parallel to the imaging sensor. This ideal orientation of subject to the imaging sensor lasted maybe a second or two.
  • The raised foot adds a feeling of motion to this still photograph.
  • The head angle is perfect, turned about one degree toward us.
  • The eye, face, and head are perfectly sharp. Thank the AF system for that.
  • The position of the breaking wavelet is perfect, entering the frame from the lower right corner and framing the subject nicely. Images made on the shore where there are breaking waves are often ruined by the line of the break cutting through the bird. Best to have that line above or below the bird … Simply being aware of these lines can help you to know when to press the shutter button thus improving your chances of making a special image.
  • The fish is nicely positioned and the eye is almost completely visible. Chalk that one up to good fortune.

Anything Else?

If you have — by careful observation — noted anything else that contributes to the success of this image, please share your thoughts by leaving a comment.


All things being equal, what might have made this a better image?

How Good?

Do you think that this image would make a worthy major international contest entrant? Why or why not?

This color-corrected version was created by Denise Ippolito.

An Improvement

Thanks to Denise Ippolito for sending along this color-corrected version. The WHITEs are whiter and the color of the background is definitely improved.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: breeding plumage Dunlin, dark morph breeding plumage Reddish Egret displaying, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/front end vertical portrait, breeding plumage Laughing Gull with prey item, Laughing Gull on head of Brown Pelican, screaming Royal Tern in breeding plumage, Royal Terns/pre-copulatory stand, Laughing Gulls copulating, breeding plumage Laughing Gull/tight horizontal portrait, Sandwich Tern with fish, and a really rare one, White-rumped Sandpiper in breeding plumage, photographed at DeSoto in early May.

Fort DeSoto Spring IPT/April 19-22, 2017. (meet & greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19 followed by an afternoon session) through the full day on Saturday April 22. 3 1/2 DAYs: $1599. Limit 10. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

I will be offering small group (Limit 3) Photoshop sessions on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning if necessary. Details on that TBA.

Fort DeSoto is one of the rare locations that might offer great bird photography 365 days a year. It shines in spring. There will Lots of tame birds including breeding plumage Laughing Gull and Royal and Sandwich Terns. With luck, we will get to photograph all of these species courting and copulating. There will be American Oystercatcher and Marbled Godwit plus sandpipers and plovers, some in full breeding plumage. Black-bellied Plover and Red Knot in stunning breeding plumage are possible. There will be lots of wading birds including Great and Snowy Egrets, both color morphs of Reddish Egret, Great Blue, Tricolored and Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, and killer breeding plumage White Ibis. Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork are possible and likely. We should have lots of good flight photography with the gulls and terns and with Brown Pelican. Nesting Least Tern and nesting Wilson’s Plover are possible.

We will, weather permitting, enjoy 7 shooting sessions. As above, our first afternoon session will follow the meet and greet at 2pm on Wednesday April 19. For the next three days we will have two daily photo sessions. We will be on the beach early and usually be at lunch (included) by 11am. We will have three indoor sessions. At one we will review my images–folks learn a ton watching me choose my keepers and deletes–why keep this one and delete that one? The second will be a review of your images so that I can quickly learn where you need help. For those who bring their laptops to lunch I’d be glad to take a peek at an image or three. Day three will be a Photoshop session during which we will review my complete workflow and process an image or two in Photoshop after converting them in DPP. Afternoon sessions will generally run from 4:30pm till sunset. We photograph until sunset on the last day, Saturday, April 22. Please note that this is a get-your-feet and get-your-butt wet and sandy IPT. And that you can actually do the whole IPT with a 300 f/2.8L IS, a 400 f/4 ID DO lens with both TCs, or the equivalent Nikon gear. I will surely be using my 500 II as my big glass and have my 100-400 II on my shoulder.


DeSoto in spring is rife with tame and attractive birds. From upper left clockwise to center: Laughing Gull in flight, adult Yellow-crowned Night-Heron, copulating Sandwich Terns, Roseate Spoonbill, Great Egret with reflection, Short-billed Dowitcher in breeding plumage, American Oystercatcher, breeding plumage Royal Tern, white morph Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret marsh habitat shot.

What You Will Learn

You will learn to approach free and wild birds without disturbing them, to understand and predict bird behavior, to identify many species of shorebirds, to spot the good situations, to understand the effects of sky and wind conditions on bird photography, to choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, and to design pleasing images by mastering your camera’s AF system. And you will learn how and why to work in Manual mode (even if you are scared of it).

The group will be staying at the Red Roof Inn, St. Petersburg: 4999 34th St. North, St Petersburg, FL 33714. The place is clean and quite inexpensive. Please e-mail for room block information. And please call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 to register. All will need to purchase an Annual Pass early on Tuesday afternoon so that we can enter the park at 6am and be in position for sunrise opportunities. The cost is $75, Seniors $55. Tight carpools will be needed and will reduce the per person Annual Pass costs. The cost of three lunches is included. Breakfasts are grab what you can on the go, and dinners are also on your own due to the fact that we will usually be getting back to the hotel at about 9pm. Non-photographer spouses, friends, or companions are welcome for $100/day, $350 for the whole IPT.

BIRDS AS ART Fort DeSoto In-the-Field Meet-up Workshop (ITFW): $99

Fort DeSoto Spring In-the-Field Cheap Meet-up Workshop (ITFW) on the morning of April 22, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of April 22, 2017 for 3-hours of photographic instruction at Fort DeSoto Park. Beginners are welcome. Lenses of 300mm or longer are recommended but even those with 70-200s should get to make some nice images. Teleconverters are always a plus.

You will learn the basics of digital exposure and image design, autofocus basics, and how to get close to free and wild birds. We should get to photograph a variety of wading birds, shorebirds, terns, and gulls. This inexpensive morning workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tours. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal registration fee. Your registration fee is non-refundable. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place one week before the event.

Please Remember to use my Affiliate Links and to Visit the New 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.


Be sure to like and follow BAA on Facebook by clicking on the logo link upper right. Tanks a stack.


In all blog posts and Bulletins, feel free to e-mail or to leave a comment regarding any typos or errors. Just be right :).

10 comments to Everything Came Together …

  • Beautiful Image. Definitely contest worthy.
    Great information provide in the post.
    Thank you Artie.

  • avatar Craig Wiese

    I love that it’s an action shot that’s more or less white on white; kind of unique.

  • avatar Kathleen Hanika

    This is awesome. The only thing that could have possibly have made it better was if you had asked the egret to flip the position of the fish and lower it a little–leaving the fish eye still visible, but its now in front head not intersecting with the egret’s neck. I’m not sure how skilled you are in egret-speak, but thought I’d put in my two cents. 😉

  • avatar Bob Allen

    Sweet! BTW, there is a droplet of water from the bird’s bill. Look just left and above the raised foot.

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    Definitely a winner.
    The fish and bird are razor sharp!
    All of the points you made are great tips, especially your advice to watch for the line of surf (or anything else) that cuts through the bird.
    The framing is beautiful too – i really like how its angled!
    Leaving room to the left of the bird also adds to the shot.
    This is a very informative tutorial!

  • There’s a barely noticeable line just above the bird’s head – presumably another wavelet, that completes the framing perfectly. Also, the soggy sand just at the lower left adds a further texture, which is another reason this image is a winner.

    As to what would’ve made it better? Perhaps a droplet or two from the Snowy’s lower mandible 😉

  • avatar Jackie Milburn

    What a Great educational post. I think this image would be a winner. What makes it for me is the fish. It’s expression is priceless. The transparent dorsal fin in the mouth of the egret and the tail fin add that extra oomph to the image. The motion says it all…gotta hurry before it gets away…The egrets left foot rising out of the water tell he’s on his toes and in a rush to get out of the water before his meal gets away. Love the colors. The white surf sets off the yellow feet and eye and those lovely long black legs. Nice Capture Artie 🙂