Both Feet Off the Ground … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Both Feet Off the Ground ...

What’s Up?

I spent Sunday morning at Gatorland with two very nice clients from Orlando, Marj and Gary. With dead clear skies conditions were not the greatest but we had fun and they learned quite a bit. With a nice east wind picking up mid-morning we had a few good flight chances. I have decided that I will not be doing a final Gatorland Meet-up in two weeks as it is too close to Finland …

I enjoyed another killer crane sunset down by Lake Walk-in-Water on Sunday evening.

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: 31!

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, 31 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 down by the lake at ILE on the morning of April 14, 2017 with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.) ISO 800: 1/1250 sec. at f/9 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 5.

A single AF point two to the left of the center AF point/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. Though the selected AF point was on the bird’s breast, the image is sharp on the vulture’s eye.

Black Vulture running with its feet off the ground

Both Feet Off the Ground …

For unknown reasons, there have been some dead fish on the peninsula to the south of the long pier at the end of Park Avenue in the development that I live in, Indian Lake Estates, FL. On Thursday night, I moved one large fish to a spot where if I stood with my back to the adjacent canalI would have the sun behind me while I was at eye level to the vultures coming in to scavenge the fish. In today’s featured image, the subject was coming to the fish at full trot. I thought that it was neat that I caught it with both feet off the ground. My NIK 25/25 filter did wonders for the BLACKs.

Aperture Question

There was zero reason to be at f/9. I should have been at 1/2500 sec. at f/6.3. Do you have any idea how I wound up at f/9?


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 :).

16 comments to Both Feet Off the Ground …

  • avatar Rob Stambaugh

    Guessing you’d been shooting at f9 using the 2X (to get a bit more DOF than at the minimum f8) and then you switched to the 1.4X and forgot to open up at that lower focal length.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Bingo! You’d think I’d learn after making that same mistake so many times 🙂

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Kevin Hice

    Hi Artie Being in manual mode and wanting to expose a little more for the blacks moving the exposure compensation dial would have changed the aperture. Thinking that you were in Av. Sometimes stuff happens quickly and forgot that you were in manual mode.My question is seems like you are using AWB lately.I have been shooting in cloudy or daylight mode is the camera better in AWB? Thanks for the blog.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nope 🙂


      ps: Both 1DX II and 5D IV do better with AWB than the previous bodies …

  • avatar Mark Jordan

    If you were at F 6.3 you would have overexposed especially at the shutter speed you selected. So by closing down the aperture to get the correct exposure got you at F9 and still freezing the vulture. Regards.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      What you say is true but does not answer the question. See the Rob Stambaugh comment.

      later and love, artie

  • avatar Guido Bee

    I’d guess that you were ensuring sharpness as the bird came toward the fish (servo on helps here), but it’s not always a sure thing that the vulture would go straight. Also, the feet are interesting in this image, so by setting the focus on the breast you have a better chance to have the feet and the head / eye all in focus. Just a guess.
    All the best.


    f9 Cause subject was a bit close ?

  • avatar David Policansky

    I have no idea why you were at f/9, Artie, but it’s a fine image anyway. The two places where I spend most of my time–Nantucket and central New Mexico–have plenty of turkey vultures but no black vultures.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Black Vultures are primarily a southern species. I do know that they breed in some spot in downstate New York.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    Sounds like you bumped the settings dial a few clicks and the aperture changed unknowingly.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Nope 🙂 If I had accidentally bumbed the dail I would have had the wrong exposure. The clue is in many other blog posts 🙂


  • avatar Mike Cristina

    Maybe you could have used f9 in case you shot a bird with a fish in its mouth and needed a little more depth-of-field?