When Everything Goes According to Plan. And a wonderful e-mail … « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

When Everything Goes According to Plan. And a wonderful e-mail ...

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A Wonderful e-Mail

From Multiple IPT Participant Greg Ferguson of Atlanta

Artie, I’m writing to thank you for everything you did to make the Bosque IPT a photographic success. As Dizzy Dean said about his pitching performance “It’s not bragging if you can do it”, and you can say the same thing about your IPTs. On your recent IPT you certainly demonstrated that you can put your students in the right place at the right time for outstanding shooting opportunities. We were in perfect position to catch a snow geese blast-off silhouetted against the pre-dawn glow. After only about two minutes of continuous shooting you yelled “We have one minute before we leave for our next location.” Warren Hatch and I started laughing because we thought you were kidding. Why leave when we were getting good shots? Well, much to our surprise, we left and found out why. At the next location we were much closer to the geese and got them blasting off directly toward us right over our heads.

So you aren’t bragging about getting people in the right position at the right time because you can do it. Thanks for the wonderful shooting opportunities and the personal care and attention from both you and Denise. Greg

What’s Up?

On Thursday I spent most of the day working on the LensAlign/FocusTune Micro-adjusting e-Guide and getting some image files off my laptop.

I recently shared an early draft of the new guide with Bill Hill who wrote via e-mail:

Artie, Just a note as a progress report and thanks again. I got my 500 f4 back from Canon, a very good experience, and focus-tuned it with my 2x III converter. AWESOME. It came out to -3; I have never gotten such sharp images at 1000mm. Thanks to MT, AM and Canon! The info in your guide is essential to anyone who wants to use learn to use Focus Tune. Bill

The guide will likely be published no later than early September. Pricing will be as follows: for folks who purchases LensAlign/FocusTune through BIRDS AS ART and can provide proof of purchase in the form of a receipt from the BAA Online Store, the price will be $40. For those who purchased elsewhere, the price will be $50.00.


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.

The Streak

Today marks thirteen days in a row with a new educational blog post. This blog post took less than an hour to create.


I finally updated the IPT page to properly reflect the recently completed trips. If you doubt that I am really slowing down do click here to see the meager IPT schedule. Right now there are only two US-based IPTs on the schedule. Best news is that I turned up the missing registrant for the Fort DeSoto IPT so that will run. Do consider joining us if you would like to learn from the best.

Photographers Wanted

If you would like to learn to be a better bird photographer, consider joining me on the Fort DeSoto IPT in late September. Scroll down for details. With just one person signed up, you will be enjoying practically private instruction. And you can tack on the In-the-Field/Meet-up Workshop Session on the morning of Tuesday September 26, 2017 for free.

Best Advice for Improving Your Bird Photography

1-Subscribe to the blog and read and study it here.

2-Purchase and study the information in the two-book bundle here; these two will become your bird photography bibles.

3-Sign up for an Instructional Photo Tour (IPT) by clicking here.

4- Join BirdPhotographers.Net and start posting your images either in the Avian Forum or the Eager to Learn Forum.

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 2017 Japan IPT with the hand held Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (at 312m) and my favorite bird photography camera body, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. ISO 800. Evaluative metering +2 stops off the grey clouds: 1/500 sec. at f/5.6 in Manual mode. AWB.

LensAlign/FocusTune micro-adjustment: +1.

Two rows down and one AF point to the right of the center AF Point/AI Servo/Expand/Shutter button AF as framed was active at the moment of exposure. The selected AF point fell on the tip of the bill of the bird on our right. The assist points surely helped in this low light/low contrast situation.

Click on the image to enjoy a larger, more dramatic version.

Red-crowned Cranes taking flight late in the day

When Everything Goes According to Plan …

It was late in the day and most of the photographers and most of the cranes had already left Tsurui Itoh Sanctuary. Heck, most of my group had given up and was already back at the lodge. I saw these two birds near the top of the ridge so I moved away from them by walking to my left to get a bit lower. With the wind from my left, I knew that the birds would be taking off toward me. I had already metered plus two stops off the sky and set that exposure manually. Unlike most folks I am fine with 1/500 second for flight. I saw the pink sky and I saw the trees. Heck, I saw the final image in my mind’s eye. Since I wanted the birds in the lower right part of the frame I selected an AF point two rows down and one to the right. This was an estimate. All of the decisions above were made and carried out in less than ten seconds. Then the birds leaned forward and took flight right at me. I acquired focus, and, as is my usual style, fired off only two frames. Today’s featured image was my favorite.

I love that in bird photography you often have to make several important decisions –focus, exposure, shutter speed, and framing for starters — in just a few seconds and do everything right to have any chance of success. What a challenge and what a thrill when everything goes according to plan. Learn to see and think like a pro by joining me on the Fall DeSoto IPT or on the January 2018 San Diego IPT.

Your Call

What are your thoughts on this image? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Could I have done anything better in the field to make it better? Could I have done anything better during the image optimization to make it better? Your honest thoughts are appreciated.

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.


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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 :).

8 comments to When Everything Goes According to Plan. And a wonderful e-mail …

  • avatar Elinor Osborn

    Perfect composition to my eye. If the birds were dark and blended into the dark, OOF background forest I wouldn’t like it. But they are white and sharp against the OOF forest so they stand out.

  • avatar frank sheets

    There are things I don’t like about the image, but considering all that had go come together to get what you got, its pretty amazing, I think the thing that bothers me the most is the birds bifurcated by the horizon. If you had gotten on your on your knees you may have gotten a separation between the birds and the horizon and that my have been a better image. But your prediction of exposure, af point selection and where to be are all signs of a pro at work. Something many (most) of us would not have thought of. Otherwise, all else considered, pretty great shot!

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Frank! And to think, if I had gotten on my knees I could have gotten behind the fence!

      See you Sunday evening, Monday morning at breakfast at the worst.

      with love to you both, artie

  • avatar Jack D Waller

    Guess I’m a Maggi Fuller type of person. Somehow the birds just don’t stand out with all the distractions such as the perspective of the snow and background almost appearing to be a tilted camera.

    I presume this is not a case of being able to track the subject and just the luck of the draw being able to capture the birds at the moment of entry into the frame. Was there any tracking? Was the distance pre-focused? Would shutter lag of around 2/10 of a sec. come into play? Is this cropped at all? Just beginner curiosity.


  • Hey Arthur, really like the snow under the cranes feet it gives a nice separation from the background. The only thing i can think would be to have the cranes slightly higher in the frame.

  • avatar Scott Borowy

    I agree with Maggi; a brilliantly executed image. Technical success not withstanding, not letting the hills interfere with the shape of the cranes took great awareness of situation and was the make-or-break composition factor for me. The cranes almost “pop” visually off the foreground.

    My preference is to try and stop motion, but at 1/500, it really lends itself to the overall story of the image. You understand that the cranes are about to go flying towards the left side of the captured image. I feel if this was taken with a high enough shutter speed, and motion frozen, the impact of the photo would have been lost.

  • avatar Maggi Fuller

    No doubt a brilliantly executed image as usual, but for me, the background is far too distracting. I had to look hard and then again, to make out what the birds were & how they were positioned/flying. Not for me Artie, sorry…. with a plain black background, it would be amazing!

  • avatar Jake

    Hi Artie, I really like the colours and gradient of the sky and the silhouette of the trees against the pink sky. I would try isolating and enhancing the pink of the sky slightly. I don’t like the small intruding into the frame on the left (I don’t think that would be difficult to do with the clone stamp tool). It also bugs me that the top of the big tree is clipped at the top, I would try shortening the branches with the clone stamp tool.
    On to the poses… I don’t like that the rigt hand bird’s right foot overlaps with the left hand bird’s left foot, but that is a very minor thing. Another minor thing is that the wing of the left crane protrudes out from behind the right crane.
    Great image. The niggles are all minor and I do not think that there is anything you could have done about the poses,