Oh for Ruffs & Silhouette Photography & Large Zone AF Tips « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Oh for Ruffs & Silhouette Photography & Large Zone AF Tips

What’s Up?

Yes, nothing is guaranteed in nature photography. Rating the quality of our photography in Kuusamo on a scale of 1-10, I’d give it an 8.75. Doing the same with our 3 1/2 day visit to Oulu, I’d give it a 0.75. As noted yesterday, the incredibly late spring combined with cold temperatures and northerly winds left the areas in front of both the morning lekking blinds and the afternoon shore blinds encased in ice. We did find (but not photograph well) a pair of nesting Black-tailed Godwits and some Lapwings. Ruff in breeding plumage was the bird that inspired my trip to Finland; we never saw a single one 🙂

I fly home on Wednesday getting into Orlando at about 10:30pm (after enjoying two four-hour layovers, one in Helsinki and the other at JFK …)

David Hollander’s Fort DeSoto IPT Gallery

Be sure to check out David Hollander’s Fort DeSoto IPT gallery here. All were made with “only” his 100-400 II!

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.

Please Don’t Forget …

As always–and folks have been doing a really great job for a long time now–please remember to use our B&H links for your major and minor 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 on the Fort DeSoto IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (at 560mm) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/640 sec. at f/11 in Manual mode. WB: 7900K.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: 0.

Right Large Zone/AI Servo/Shutter Button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The AF system activated two AF points that caught the bird’s back leg just above the spot where it entered the water. Perfection!

Reddish Egret hunting at dawn.

Silhouette AF Tip

AF often has big problems with bright backlight. My best advice is to focus on the bird’s legs rather than the bird’s body. The legs offer more contrast, a place for AF to grab. Place a sensor on the black blob of a bird’s body and their is often not enough contrast for AF to lock onto anything. Point the lens down and go for the legs.

Large Zone AF Rocks

With today’s featured image, Large Zone AF worked perfectly. It even followed my advice, “In bright backlit situations, go for the bird’s legs.” The more that I use Large Zone AF the more I see the major advantages (along with the sometime disadvantages).

Silhouette Tip

Once you lock focus on a moving subject in strong backlit situation, press and hold the shutter button. Small differences in the background in the series will often make a big difference in the success of this or that image. With today’s featured image the light area behind the bird’s head contributes greatly to the success of the image. Had there been dark or black water behind the bird’s head, the image would have been an instant-delete.


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.

BIRDS AS ART May 20-21 Fort DeSoto In-the Field Instructional Meet-Up Sessions

Join me in Tierra Verde, FL for all or part of the weekend of May 20-21, 2017. 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. These inexpensive sessions are 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.

May 20-21, 2017 Schedule

  • Saturday May 20 Meet-up Morning: 6:30 till 10:00am: $99.
  • Lunch and Image Review: $99.
  • Saturday afternoon: 4pm till sunset: $99.
  • Sunday May 21 Meet-up Morning, Meet-up Morning: 6:30 till 10:00am: $99.

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 with questions.

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 :).

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