On Paying Attention … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

On Paying Attention ...


Jet lag is improving. I took a 15 minute nap on the way up to Gatorland on Friday afternoon. With the light still too harsh at 3:30pm, I walked around for an hour without unpacking any gear to check things out. Then I grabbed my 100-400 II, the 1.4X III TC, a 5D Mark IV, and the flash and made a few good images. There is one promising morning light Great Egret pair with a nest 15 just feet from the boardwalk. And some really nice small chicks in an even closer nest. I meet the two folks in less than an hour. I forgot to mention that I slept well last night.

Be sure to check out the AF Area Selection mode and the selected AF point for each image in this and every blog post 🙂 Cheap learning of the highest form …

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: 478!

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, 478 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 with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and the fast, rugged Canon EOS-1D X Mark II with 64GB Card and Reader. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

One AF point below the center AF point/AI Servo Expand/Shutter Button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell on the bird’s eye. Click on the image to see a larger version.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment = +4.

Dunlin–adult breeding plumage feeding

On Paying Attention …

In following up on the San Diego IPT one participant who was really paying close attention mentioned that it would have been helpful had I talked more about choosing an AF Area Selection Mode and choosing the active AF point in the field. I strive to mention which AF Area Selection Mode I am using in each new situation (and why). Letting the group know during the heat of the action is much more difficult because I am moving the AF point around in response to the bird’s movement, orientation, and behavior. In addition, as the distance to the subject changes I often need to move the AF point as well.

So where exactly is the best place to learn about AF Area Selection Modes and choosing an AF point? For those who pay close attention, the best place to do that is right here on the blog. Every one of our legendary educational captions includes the AF Area Selection Mode, the selected AF point, the location of the selected AF point, and often, what I was thinking at the time of capture.

Study each posted image with care and note the AF Area Selection mode as well as the AF point that I selected. In time, you will gain a better understanding of your camera’s AF system and a good idea of what I am thinking and doing as far as AF is concerned. As I’ve said here before and often, if you are using the center AF point all the time you are not even close to utilizing your camera’s AF system to its full potential …

We should have lots of good chances on breeding plumage shorebirds on the DeSoto IPT. Not to mention terns and Laughing Gulls and herons and egrets, among others. There are only four slots left. See immediately below for the complete details.

Positives and Negatives

Please leave a comment and let us know what you think are the positives and negatives of this image. How is the subject to film plane orientation? How is the head angle? The sharpness? The image design? The exposure? My choice of perspective?


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/Openings 4. To save your spot, please call and put down your non-refundable deposit: $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 Sunday, April 23, 2017: $99

Join me on the morning of Sunday April 23, 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 On Paying Attention …

  • I have few questions regarding this image.

    Do you prefer shooting with Tripod or skimmer ground pod when trying to get this low perspective ?

    Do you prefer sitting on the ground or laying flat to get this perspective ?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I rarely get flat on the ground anymore except on special occasions 🙂 Especially in the mud. So I am using my tripod or “hand holding” on rare occasion. When I do get flat on the ground, I splay the tripod legs. As kneeling to get low is hard on my back and on my knees, I prefer to sit (even in the water). Another advantage of sitting rather than getting down flat is that it is much easier to follow the moving birds.

      It was great meeting and working with you this past weekend on the Gatorland Mini-IPT. BTW, be sure to read my responses to Kevin Hice on working in Manual mode in Monday’s blog post: “Concentration on the Task at Hand Rewarded; Blog Lessons Reinforced! And a Like-new 600 II at the Lowest-ever BAA Price!”

      later and love, artie

  • I really like the low perspective. We will get shore birds in Salt lake and I am going to have fun in the mud laying low.

    The bit of green colors in the Top and perspective are the best par of this this image. Lot of positives, good depth of field to get all the feathers in focus.

    The only negatives for me being the 2 reflections of the leg, beak in the water and the dark mud spot of the bottom right hand.

    Would love to know your views.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Krishna. The legs reflections do not bother me at all, the bill reflection does but I opted to leave it. Using the Patch Tool on the dark mud spot is surely an option. I did do lots of mud clean-up on the TIFF 🙂


  • avatar Tony

    Hi Artie,
    I have several questions.
    First, are you sitting, kneeling or lying down to take this shot? i like the perspective.
    Second, a lot of time you use a lower ISO, and I was wondering the order you set ISO compared to aperture and shutter speed. Do you set ISO first and leave it or adjust it as you go along with f-stop and ss?
    Lastly, if you’re shooting raw, does setting the WB really have an effect on the final image? Or is the “daylight WB” as set in post processing the raw?

    Tony Z

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Good questions Tony. I am pretty sure that I was sitting in shallow water. For feeding shorebirds 1/500 or higher will freeze the motion. Though it looks sunny it was quite early in the day with a bit of haze so I needed ISO 1600 to get the fast enough shutter speed; the low light was the determining factor. With resting birds ISO 800 or even 400 might have sufficed …

      You can change the WB setting during the RAW processing without any noticeable effect. My understanding is that it is always best to set the best WB while shooting though I do not always do that 🙂


  • avatar Tony

    Love the razor thin DOF at f9. Do you think you would have gotten the shot without the LensAlign/Focustune?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      +4 is a fairly significant micro-adjustment … I am therefore, confident that the image is sharper than it would have been at 0.