Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Chance … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Chance ...


I started micro-adjusting my 500 II with all three camera bodies early on Thursday morning. By 11:30am I was headed into town to have my teeth cleaned, pick up two new pairs of reading glasses — I recently lost two pairs in the field, and pick up 1,500 British pounds from the bank to pay for the gannet boat trips. I did a meditation walk in Publix, that followed by a bit of shopping and a visit to the chiropractor. I was home by 3:30 and was quickly back at the micro-adjusting. By 5pm I had finished up with the 500 II alone with all three camera bodies, and, the 500 II with both of my 1.4X III TCs on all three camera bodies. Most of those were re-checks so they did not take too long. If the combo has already been micro-adjusted I will simply run an AFC consistency test in FocusTune using the old value. All of those tests were either still perfect or within one. No worries — if you have no clue as to what I am talking about it will all be in the new LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjusting e-Guide. That should be done by early August at the very latest. Or possibly a lot sooner than that.

At 6pm I got in the pool and enjoyed my half-mile swim. And again, I ate well.

Mongoose M3.6 Heads Sold Out

For the first time in months, we had seven Mongoose M3.6 heads in stock last week. They are all gone. Your best bet is to call Jim at 863-692-0906 right now to order yours. We will not bill your card until we receive our next back-order and ship yours.

The Streak

Just in case you have not been counting, today makes 15 days in a row with a new educational blog post 🙂


I could not secure the lodging that I needed for the UK Puffins and Gannets IPT in Dunbar, Scotland, so I went from Hotels.Com to Booking.Com and was pleasantly surprised. I found the rooms that I needed with ease at a hotel that was not even on Hotels.Com, and it was a nice hotel that I had seen in person. And the rates were great. If you’d like to give Booking.Com a shot, click here and you will earn a $25 reward.

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 the BAA 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 2016 Fort DeSoto Fall IPT with the Induro GIT 304L/Mongoose M3.6-mounted Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens, the Canon Extender EF 2X III, and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/1600 sec. at f/8 in Manual mode. Daylight WB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: -5.

Three AF points up from the center AF point/AI Servo/shutter button AF on the side of the bird’s neck was active at the moment of exposure.

Sanderling, double overhead wingstretch

Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Chance …

When this bird stretched both wings overhead I struggled to acquire focus and then pressed the shutter button. At that moment I figured that my chance of success was about one in 100. But heck, it’s digital, so I took a shot at it. What would have happened if the image was not sharp? I’d delete it. But in this case, my long shot came in. Remember, you can’t win it if you’re not in it.

The Image Optimization

This image needed some counter-clockwise rotation. How did I know? I used the Ruler Tool (my personalized shortcut R) and drew a line from the tip of the bill of the actual bird to the tip of the bill in the reflection. Then go Image > Rotate > Arbitrary. Better yet, learn to set up and use my personalized keyboard shortcut, Command + /. Then I used John Heado Content Aware Fill to fill in the added triangles of canvas. It did a pretty good job with the wings in the upper right so I did my best at cleaning that up a bit. Otherwise there was not much to do after I converted the image in DPP 4.

Everything above plus tons more is detailed in the new BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II), an instructional PDF that is sent via e-mail. Learn more and check out the free excerpt in the blog post here Juts so you know, the new e-Guide reflects my Macbook Pro/Photo Mechanic/DPP 4/Photoshop workflow.

You can learn how and why I and other discerning Canon shooters convert nearly all of their Canon digital RAW files in DPP 4 using Canon Digital Photo Professional in the DPP 4 RAW conversion Guide here. And you can learn advanced Quick Masking and advanced Layer Masking techniques in APTATS I & II. You can save $15 by purchasing the pair. Folks can learn sophisticated sharpening and (NeatImage) Noise Reduction techniques in the The Professional Post Processing Guide by Arash Hazeghi and yours truly.

The BIRDS AS ART Current Workflow e-Guide (Digital Basics II) will teach you an efficient Mac/Photo Mechanic/Photoshop workflow that will make it easy for you to make your images better in Photoshop (rather than worse). That true whether you convert your images in DPP 4 or ACR. See the blog post here to learn lots more and to read a free excerpt.

You can order your copy from the BAA Online Store here, by sending a Paypal for $40 here, or by calling Jim or Jennifer weekdays at 863-692-0906 with your credit card in hand.

If In Doubt …

If in doubt about using the BAA B&H affiliate link correctly, you can always start your search by clicking here. Please note that the tracking is invisible. Please, however, remember to shoot me your receipt via e-mail.


Obviously folks attending the IPT will be out in the field early and stay late to take advantage of sunrise and sunset colors. The good news is that the days are relatively short in October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

The Fort DeSoto 2017 Fall IPT/September 22 (afternoon session) through the full day on September 25, 2017. 3 1/2 FULL DAYs: $1649. Limit 8.

Fort DeSoto, located just south of St. Petersburg, FL, is a mecca for migrant shorebirds and terns in fall. There they join hundreds of egrets, herons, night-herons, gulls, and terns who winter on the T-shaped peninsula that serves as their wintering grounds. With luck, we may get to photograph two of Florida’s most desirable shorebird species: Marbled Godwit and the spectacular Long-billed Curlew. Black-bellied Plover and Willet are easy, American Oystercatcher almost guaranteed. Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Great Blue Heron, and Tricolored Heron are easy as well and we will almost surely come up with a tame Yellow-crowned Night-Heron or two. We should get to do some Brown Pelican flight photography. And Royal, Sandwich, Forster’s, and Caspian Terns will likely provide us with some good flight opportunities as well. Though not guaranteed Roseate Spoonbill and Wood Stork would not be unexpected.

Folks who sign up for the IPT are welcome to join us on the ITF/MWS on the morning of Tuesday, September 26 as my guest. See below for details on that.

On the IPT you will learn basics and fine points of digital exposure and to get the right exposure every time after making a single test exposure, how 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 choose the best perspective, to see and understand the light, 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’re scared of it).

There will be a Photoshop/image review session after lunch (included) each day. That will be followed by Instructor Nap Time.

This IPT will run with only a single registrant (though that is not likely to happen). The best airport is Tampa (TPA). Though I have not decided on a hotel yet — I will as soon as there is one sign-up — do know that it is always best if IPT folks stay in the same hotel (rather than at home or at a friend’s place).

A $500 deposit is due when you sign up and is payable by credit card. Balances must be paid by check after you register. Your deposit is non-refundable unless the IPT sells out with ten folks so please check your plans carefully before committing. You can register by calling Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand or by sending a check as follows: make the check out to: BIRDS AS ART and send it via US mail here: BIRDS AS ART, PO BOX 7245, Indian Lake Estates, FL 33855. You will receive a confirmation e-mail with detailed instructions, gear advice, and instructions for meeting on the afternoon of Friday, September 22.


Fort DeSoto in fall is rich with tame birds. All of the images in this card were created at Fort DeSoto in either late September or early October. I hope that you can join me there this October. Click on the composite to enjoy a larger version.

BIRDS AS ART In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session (ITF/MWS): $99.

Join me on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 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 afternoon workshop is designed to give folks a taste of the level and the quality of instruction that is provided on a BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-tour. I hope to meet you there.

To register please call Jim or Jennifer during weekday business hours at 863-692-0906 with a credit card in hand to pay the nominal non-refundable registration fee. You will receive a short e-mail with instructions, gear advice, and meeting place at least two weeks before the event.


BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT.

Fort DeSoto Site Guide

Can’t make the IPT? Get yourself a copy of the Fort DeSoto Site Guide. Learn the best spots, where to be when in what season in what weather. Learn the best wind directions for the various locations. BAA Site Guides are the next best thing to being on an IPT. You can see all of them here.

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.

Those who prefer to support BAA by shopping with Amazon may use the logo link above.

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 :).

11 comments to Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Chance …

  • avatar Barrett Pierce

    Very nice Sanderling Photo. How do you decide to frame/crop (in my case it is crop), the image when photographing a bird with a reflection? How much of the image and reflection do you keep or clip? Does the framing or cropping depend on the quality of the reflection? Was the reflection and water in front blurred during capture by DOF? Would any of this change for vertical vs horizontal shots? THX.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Hi Barrett,

      In this case the crop decided itself 🙂 See the guidelines for cropping front-end verticals and my comments on reflections in The Art of Bird Photography II (ABP II — 916 pages, 900 + images, on CD only), especially in the section on Advanced Composition and Image Design. The only time I strive to include the whole reflection is when the water is like glass. The more distorted the reflection, the less of it I include. I think that the reflection in front of the bird is blurred in part because of some scuzz on the water, or possibly on the fact that the water is disturbed … The considerations are the same H or V.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Kerry Morris

    WOW. I love this image Artie. It’s classic you!
    the left underwing looks a little bit over-exposed or bright compared to everything else.
    I love the position of the bird, the wing-stretch, and the colors in the water.
    The reflection is wonderful!
    I love how the water around the bird is still and in focus, and the background and foreground are OOF. I also really like that the reflection is a bit blurry – it adds movement and interest to the shot. Looks like some clouds in the reflection too!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Many thanks. From here the WHITEs look perfect. On the TIFF, the brightest WHITE RGB values are in the low 230s.

      with love, artie

  • avatar David Policansky

    I love this image, Artie!!

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    This is one of my favorites of yours. Love the subtle colors and the unique cropping. Could it use just a tiny bit more rotation counterclockwise? The water surface gives me that feeling.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks. The tip of the bill on the bird and the tip of the bill in the reflection are on a perfect straight line; that is as good as I can do.

      with love, artie

  • avatar Craig Weeson

    Looking forward to the focus tune tutorial. Thanks Artie