Coulda Shoulda … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Coulda Shoulda ...

What’s Up?

I began the third of my four School for the Work 4-day aftercare sessions this morning on Skype with a loverly lady from the UP of Michigan. I took my walk and another late afternoon swim. Aside from that I was pretty much a lazy bum. I watched three hours of Jersey Boys and Kinky Boots stuff on You Tube and watched the last round of the Masters golf tournaments even though I knew who won. Congrats to Sergio Garcia who finally won a major after being 0 for his first 72 tries. Tomorrow, it is back to work for me!

Coming Tomorrow

In tomorrow’s blog post I will come clean as to the changes made with Great Egret bathing Image #2 in the “Which One is Phony?” blog post here. So far no one has figured out what I did and thus, there is no proof of anything. Several folks have offered proof of changes that were not made.

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: 26!

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, 26 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.

Gatorland In-the Field Instructional Meet-Up Sessions

Join me in Kissimmee, FL next weekend to photograph Great (with chicks in the nest) and Snowy Egrets in breeding plumage, Cattle Egret and Tricolored Heron in breeding plumage, Wood Stork, American Alligator (captive), and more. We should get to make lots of head portraits of all the bird species and to photograph them building nests, displaying, copulating, and flying. Learn to see, find, and make the shot in cluttered settings. Learn exposure and how to handle WHITEs. Learn fill flash and flash as main light techniques. All of the birds are free and wild.

Next Weekend’s Gatorland Schedule

  • Saturday April 15, morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $100. Lunch and Image Review: $75. Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $100.
  • Sunday morning, April 16, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $75.

Cheap Canon lens rentals available: 600 II, 500 II, 400 DO II, or 200-400.

To pay for one or more sessions in full via credit card, call Jim or Jen in the office weekdays at 863-692-0906. You will be responsible for the cost of your Gatorland Photographer’s pass or passes. Please shoot me an e-mail if you have any questions.

This image was created down by the lake near my home on the morning of Friday, April 7, 2017. I use the BLUBB-supported Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my very favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/800 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -5.

Three AF points up and one to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point rested on the right side of the chick’s neck just below the eye (as originally framed).

Sandhill Crane chick staring right down the lens barrel

Coulda Shoulda …

The original for today’s featured image was a bit wider than the as-presented version and the chick’s feet were cut off. At 1200mm I was simply too tight to fit the whole bird into the full vertical frame. I thought about pressing and holding the AF-On button, framing downward, and creating a source image for a stitched pano but I did not think that the original capture would be cute enough. How did that work out? I was wrong big-time and wound up with this somewhat awkward crop. But oh that face!

As I am now working with shutter button AF more than 95% of the time, I need to have a quick way to lock focus. I do that by setting the AF-On button to AF lock. All that I needed to do in this situation after making two images with the chick staring straight at me was to press and hold the AF-On button and point the lens down a bit to create an image of the bottom half of the crane chick with lots of room below the feet. Next would be to create a simple up and down stitched pano.

You can use the AF-On button to lock focus when working with a small-in-the-frame subject that you need to place in a corner of the frame outside the array covered by the AF array. It takes a bit of practice to learn this technique but is a lot faster and easier than having to switch to One Shot AF. For me at least.


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 2. To save your spot, please call and put down a non-refundable deposit of $499.00.

Call 863-692-0906 or e-mail for late registration discount e-mail.

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 Holiday Inn Express in St. Petersburg. (Write for a less expensive option). 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 :).

6 comments to Coulda Shoulda …

  • avatar Esther Corley

    I am so pleased that you are offering lower-cost accommodations…and senior rates on some of your informative classes, etc…..thank you so much! I still want to send you my baby seagull and mother tugging on a blue string at La Jolla Cove…when you get moved out here, just see what you can photograph! Esther Corley

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      YAW. The San Diego move was an April Fool’s joke; you gotta read all the way down to the bottom 🙂

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Jim Babbitt

    What is your reason for switching from BBF to shutter button AF for most of your shots?

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      It is easier to push one button than two. And having all AF points available at f/8 on an f/4 lens with a 2X TC in place makes it much easier to get an AF point where you want and need it. For birds tucked into the corner I will either use the AF-On button to lock focus or switch to rear focus.

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Mike H

    Hi Artie – I have been experimenting with customising buttons on the 7D2, and you can do the same set-ups with the 5D4, so I was wondering if you have seen this before

    Basically, you can have your AF-On function as you describe but also assign the metering button or the DOF button as a temporary switch of AF function. I know Arash has done this with the 1Dx2 but I was pleased to see you can also do it with the 7D2 and 5D4.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Mike H,

      I am glad that it works well for you. And thanks for sharing it with others. For me I use the KISS system, I believe in “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” and I know that this old dog is not a quick learner 🙂

      later and love, artie