Ah, the Elusive Woodpecker! And the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Wreaks Havoc on Finland IPT Photographers/Part II « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Ah, the Elusive Woodpecker! And the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Wreaks Havoc on Finland IPT Photographers/Part II

What’s Up

On Saturday, younger daughter Alissa, the younger of her two autistic sons — my grandson Idris, Jennifer’s two kids — grandson Sam and granddaughter Maya, and I, went to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. What a great way to get some serious airline miles. Sam had a season pass; the cost for the three adults and one child — Idris is eight, was more than $500. Lunch was a nifty $230+ (with a 20% discount thanks to Sam’s annual pass). In any case, we had a fun time. It was not too, too crowded and, with the nice breeze, not too, too hot. The Star Wars characters were the big hit for Idris and I thought that they were pretty neat as well (even though I have never been big Star Wars fan).

I was pleased to learn that girl-Kerry Morris’s old 400 DO sold after being listed for many months.

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.

BIRDS AS ART June 3-4 Gatorland In-the Field Instructional Meet-Up Sessions

Last of the Season!

Join me in Kissimmee, FL for all or part of the weekend of June 3-4, 2017. We should get to photograph several species of nesting herons and egrets as well as Wood Stork, American Alligator (captive), and more. We should get to make lots of head portraits of all the bird species and to photograph both small chicks and fledged young. Learn to see, find, and make the shot in cluttered settings. Learn exposure and how to handle WHITEs. All of the birds are free and wild. 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 see you there.

June 3-4, 2017 Schedule

  • Saturday June 3 Meet-up Morning (early entry): 7:30 till 10:30am: $99.
  • Lunch and Image Review: $99.
  • Saturday afternoon till closing (late stay): $99.
  • Sunday June 4 Meet-up Morning, (early entry): 7:30 till 10am: $90.

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.

This image was created on the 2017 Finland IPT with the Wimberley V-2 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. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop as framed: 1/100 sec. at f/6.3 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -3.

Four AF points up from the center AF point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was on the center of the bill/neck stripe.

Great Spotted Woodpecker in snow

Ah, the Elusive Woodpecker!

It was a somewhat strange situation — we photographed from inside a large blind, actually a room on the side of a house, through special one-way glass. We could see the birds coming to the feeders just fine, but the birds could not see us. We quickly realized that you needed to be close to perfectly square to the glass in order to produce a sharp, distortion-free image. Even at that, many images were less than razor sharp. My thoughts are that the glass messes with the AF … In any case, this one was very sharp on the eye. Most of the time we went with the 600 II with the 1.4X III TC for the smaller birds like Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Brambling, and Yellowhammer. But as the perches were close we needed to ditch the TCs when the Great Spotted Woodpecker came in. Continued below …

Wind Question

Was the wind constant or swirling? How do you know?

Snow Shutter Speed Comments …

Lot of folks like to quote the best shutter speeds for photographing birds in falling snow. This shutter speed will give you specks, that shutter speeds will give you nice streaks. Nobody ever talks about the distance to the subject. The fact is that the distance to the (accurately focused) subject is as big a factor as the shutter speed when it comes to determining the look of the falling snow. So my advice is to vary your (relatively slow) shutter speeds and hope for the best. I have had pretty good success with shutter speeds ranging from 1/60 to 1/320 second.

Do understand that a single large snowflake close to the front of the lens will appear as a big white blob and will totally ruin most images. Another problem can be AF grabbing the snow in front of the subject; depending on the situation switching to rear focus or even One-Shot AF can help. There was no snow at Disney today as the temps today were in the mid-nineties.

This image was created on the 2017 Finland IPT with the hand held Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM lens (at 105mm)and my favorite foot photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/50 sec. at f/6.3 in Av mode. AWB.

Two rows down and two AF points to the left/AI Servo/shutter button AF was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point was right on the purple toe …

Anita North’s broken toe 🙁

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Wreaks Havoc on Finland IPT Photographers/Part II

As is usual with feeder birds, they came in waves. Nothing for ten minutes, then lots of birds. For most of the day, the woodpeckers were scarce. In the mid-afternoon as it began to snow a beautiful great-spotted flew in and landed right in front of Anita and I. We both struggled to remove our teleconverters quickly. I turned off my 5D IV, removed the body, and then dropped it. It hit the table in front of me, bounced once, and fell toward the floor. It squarely struck the first joint of the second toe of participant Anita North who, in the warm comfort of the in-home blind, had removed her sneakers. She went down screaming as if she had been struck by an axe. I knew from her scream that I had broken her toe — it was not the first time I had broken someone’s toe … I felt beyond terrible of course.

Right from the get-go she was such a good sport that it was hard to believe. And in the days that followed she limped around improvising footwear and photographing with a smile. Three weeks later her toe is nearly perfect.


Palouse 2016 Horizontals Card

Why Different?

Announcing the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour

In what ways will the 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour be different from the most other Palouse workshops?

There are so many great locations that a seven-day IPT (as opposed to the typical three- or five-day workshops) will give the group time to visit (and revisit) many of the best spots while allowing you to maximize your air travel dollars. In addition, it will allow us to enjoy a slightly more relaxed pace.

You will be assured of being in the right location for the given weather and sky conditions.

You will learn and hone both basic and advanced compositional and image design skills.

You will learn to design powerful, graphic images.

You will visit all of the iconic locations and a few spectacular ones that are much less frequently visited.

You will learn long lens landscape techniques.

You will learn to master any exposure situation in one minute or less.

You will learn the fine points of Canon in-camera (5D Mark III, 5DS R, and 7D II) HDR techniques.

You will learn to create this look in Photoshop from a single image while winding up with a higher quality image file.

You will be able to share a variety of my exotic Canon lenses including the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens and the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens, aka the “circle lens.”

You will learn to use your longest focal lengths to create rolling field and Urbex abstracts.

You will learn when and how to use a variety of neutral density filters to create pleasing blurs of the Palouse’s gorgeous rolling farmlands.

As always, you will learn to see like a pro. You will learn what makes one situation prime and another seemingly similar one a waste of your time.

You will learn to see the situation and to create a variety of top-notch images.

You will learn to use super-wide lenses both for big skies and building interiors.

You will learn when, why, and how to use infrared capture; if you do not own an infrared body, you will get to borrow mine.

You will learn to use both backlight and side-light to create powerful and dramatic landscape images.

You will learn to create the very popular detailed, slightly grungy, slightly over-saturated look in Photoshop.


Palouse 2016 Verticals Card

The 2017 BIRDS AS ART Palouse Instructional Photo-Tour. June 8-14, 2017. Seven full days of photography. Meet and greet at 7:30pm on Wednesday, June 7: $2,499. Limit 10/Openings: 5.

Call 863-692-0906 or e-mail for Late Registration Discount Info

Rolling farmlands provide a magical patchwork of textures and colors, especially when viewed from the top of Steptoe Butte where we will enjoy spectacular sunrises and at least one nice sunset. We will photograph grand landscapes and mini-scenics of the rolling hills and farm fields. I will bring you to more than a few really neat old abandoned barns and farmhouses in idyllic settings. There is no better way to improve your compositional and image design skills and to develop your creativity than to join me for this trip. Photoshop and image sharing sessions when we have the time and energy…. We get up early and stay out late and the days are long.

Over the past three years, with the help of my friend Denise Ippolito, we found all the iconic locations and, in addition, lots of spectacular new old barns and breath-taking landforms and vistas. What’s included: In-the-field instruction, guidance, lessons, and inspiration, my extensive knowledge of the area, all lunches, motel lobby grab and go breakfasts, and Photoshop and image sharing sessions. As above, there will be a meet and greet at 7:30pm on the evening before the workshop begins.

To Sign Up

Your non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to hold your spot. Please let me know via e-mail that you will be joining this IPT. Then you can either call Jim or Jennifer at 863-692-0906 during business hours to arrange for the payment of your deposit; if by check, please make out to “BIRDS AS ART” and mail it to: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART, PO Box 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL, 33855. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail: artie.

Travel Insurance Services offers a variety of plans and options. Included with the Elite Option or available as an upgrade to the Basic & Plus Options. You can also purchase Cancel for Any Reason Coverage that expands the list of reasons for your canceling to include things such as sudden work or family obligation and even a simple change of mind. You can learn more here: Travel Insurance Services. Do note that many plans require that you purchase your travel insurance within 14 days of our cashing your deposit check. Whenever purchasing travel insurance be sure to read the fine print carefully even when dealing with reputable firms like TSI.

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.


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Amazon Canada

Many kind folks from north of the border, eh, have e-mailed stating that they would love to help us out by using one of our affiliate links but that living in Canada and doing so presents numerous problems. Now, they can help us out by using our Amazon Canada affiliate link by starting their searches by clicking here.


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

14 comments to Ah, the Elusive Woodpecker! And the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Wreaks Havoc on Finland IPT Photographers/Part II

  • avatar Guido Bee

    Regarding the solar eclipse, your sensor etal will require filter, and pretty dark, too. Figure around 15 or so stops worth when the sun is not fully eclipsed (in totality).
    During totality, if you are in that path, you do not need the same level of filtration.
    What I’d recommend is Googling some sites like Eclipse 2017, and lurking around there. There are some knowledgeable people and links with good info.
    I strongly recommend you are fully comfortable with what is being said by those guys / gals who sound to you like they know what it is they are talking about. You can do real and permanent damage to your eyes and camera equipment if not appropriately blocked, and it can be nearly instantaneous. Also ensure that any kids / grandkids are properly protected. There are cheap paper glasses with filters available from the usual sources.
    Hope this helps. B&H has had some info on-line about the eclipse. Good luck.

  • avatar Rick Tuley

    With regards to solar eclipse; your eyes need light
    protection, your camera’s sensor needs protected
    also. Measure the outside diameter of the lens hood
    and get a filter with a somewhat larger inside

  • Hi Artie,
    First many many thanks for your great blog, and all the info. you share.
    We have the Aug. 21st solar eclipse coming up. I understand the need for solar glasses to view the partial, but, I see they say your lens need a solar filter also.
    I plan to shoot the partial with a Canon 5 D Mark III, and a 600
    Canon F 4 IS I lens. Where or what kind of filter is needed?

    Many thanks,


    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for your kind words. No clue on the solar eclipse stuff. I am hoping that someone here can chime in.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Obviously a good sport! Did that once with my wife’s surgery and the wife and all the kids really lit into me! (:>)

    In case anyone is interested in following this plan, I installed one-way mirror in my modest observatory beside the open hole with droopy mesh and it works like a charm with only the most nervous birds like the magpie noticing lens movement (most birds quickly acclimatize to the lens hood). Mounted a gimbal up-side-down and used EF 300 2.8 II since my 10′ elevated props are at close to MFD. Remote camera monitoring to a small LCD TV beside the comfy chair where I sit and read until someone shows up. I stand and shoot out of a small bell tower, I added to my scaled down barn/shed, in the attic. Electric heater too for winter. Since the shed is away from the house and close to a grove of trees it’s more attractive to birds.

    Decreasing IQ the mirror also adds an undesirable tint so I would never shoot through it although I’m tempted since a small plate feeder sits inches from the mirror (the birds often admire themselves or their perceived mate). It’s great to see their features from that distance and observe behavior!


  • avatar Ron Gates

    I’m going against the grain on this one. I believe the wind is fairly constant because the snow streaks appear to be relatively parallel. Some of the OOF one’s in the background do appear to be slightly different though. I’ll still vote for fairly constant.

  • avatar Pat Fishburne

    I’ll call Jennifer or Jim Monday morning and, if you aren’t full, we will see you Sunday morning at Gatorland! We already have yearly passes.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Great. It will be nice to see you both.

      with love, artie

      ps; SAT would be a bit better as we generally get in earlier 🙂

  • avatar Tony

    Glad Anita’s toe is ok. How about the camera?

  • avatar ARNIE LLOYD

    A total of 840mm focal length @ 1/100 shutter speed. Art, you must have the steadiness of a brain surgeon.Amazing!!!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Arnie. Nothing really special, just good sharpness techniques, plus the 4-stop IS is fantastic … Really, with a bit of practice most anyone can do 1200mm at 1/60 sec.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Peake

    Ouch for the toe Anita North. Wind was swirly from the different directions of the snow flakes in the image. Very nice image of the great spotted woodpecker.

  • avatar PKUK

    Easy question today, the wind was obviously swirling as seen by the varied angles of the raindrop trails.